As I turn 65, my faith in the innate goodness and intelligence of the American people is at an all-time low. I wrote in my initial editorial about how I could see quite a number of silver linings in our current political situation. As I write this, less than three months later, that tepid optimism I shared then has been beaten down more and more with each passing day.
The results in last night’s Montana special election to replace their single, statewide member of US Congress can only be described as monumentally depressing – not just because of a single race in Montana but more so because of what it says about the total lack of response to Trump and to the Republican agenda.
Now maybe it is just yet too early, and people who voted for Trump are still just defiantly saying “I could not possibly have been that wrong”. Maybe, scandal or not, when next year’s election comes around, they will finally, reluctantly admit that this experiment may have been borne out of a fatalistic optimism that anything at all is better than the status quo. But they put their trust in very likely the single worst individual to ever be entrusted with their faith.
The extremely troubling thing about the Montana results is that Republican gerrymandering played absolutely no role in that result. If nothing else, that clearly should tell Democrats that while gerrymandering is indeed a monumental issue to overcome, you can’t just continue to say that is the main reason why people are not voting … if not for Democrats, at the very least against Republicans.
You look at the state map of Montana showing how people voted and it is mind-boggling – very much like the U.S. map after the last election. Yeah, Democrats make a big deal about how Hillary won 3 million more votes than Trump, but just look at the damn map. The country is almost completely red with just pockets of blue almost exclusively in metropolitan areas.
I can understand, though certainly not agree, with how the majority of the wealthy and the privileged can justify being part of a movement that says “I earned (or inherited) what I have, so damned if I will subsidize anyone or anything else that does not specifically benefit me, or will I ever pay anything at all to make this country or our world a better place for future generations.” But for such an entire swath of our country, who are obviously neither wealthy nor privileged, to think that is better for them … how is that even possible?
Gianforte in Montana couldn’t even beat the Democrat for Governor when the state voted for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016. Yet he still wins the statewide race for U.S. Congress even after all of the things we have seen in the past four months, and it is obvious he will likely be yet another rubber stamp for Trump. Again, I’m sure Rob Quist will be blamed for being a poor candidate for the Democrats, and I don’t totally disagree. He struck me as a Willie Nelson wannabe who carried some personal baggage and no elected experience, although in current political environment, you would have thought that should have been a plus.
But given what has transpired in the past four months, simple logic should have dictated that virtually anyone running against Gianforte would have been elected if for no other reason than to not give Trump another rubber stamp for the most incomprehensively cruel, misguided agenda ever put forth to the American people.
Thank God that Trump has not yet been able to push through much of anything that he has wanted and also that he has reversed position on so many of the pathetic things that he shamelessly bait and switched his voters with in the election.
The temptation is to think that this all has only been about Trump and the huge mistake that it was to elect him to any office, much less the Presidency. Therefore, many people cling to the hope that if he is removed from office then somehow everything will have to get better. His supreme arrogance, gross stupidity and utter narcissism, in addition to his obvious admiration for authoritarianism, should make his not lasting a full term, much less being reelected, almost a no-brainer. But that is no sure thing by any means.
Even if he is removed, that does not change the fact that the United States is now almost a completely red nation. Rather than falling back on smugly rationalizing for having recently lost two elections where the Democrat won the popular vote but lost the electoral college, not just Democrats, but the entire country should try and figure out why 85% or more of the physical U.S. still votes predominently Republican even when the Republican agenda should not represent the views of a large portion of rural America, much less well more than half of them.
Those silver linings I spoke of now look much more like the pipe dreams of a madman in the wilderness. This is the least optimistic I have been since November 8th.