There’s a trend I’ve noticed in the comments section here and also in some of the emails I’ve been getting: quite a few people admonishing me that I should shut up like a good apparatchik and take one for the Trump Team in terms of criticizing him, and that if I don’t, I’m responsible (not solely, of course, but in my own little way) for the election of Hillary Clinton and every evil that follows from that. This was summed up rather elegantly recently by one person who wrote that I was now “just part of the media anti-Trump chorus.”
What is the goal of a blog? Some exist to make money; alas, not this one, not much (although heartfelt thanks again to all who contribute in that way). Some exist to lead the cheerleading for a political movement; not this one, either. Some exist to rouse the rabble with rabble-rousing nastiness, whipping them up into a two-minutes hate a la Nineteen Eighty-Four. Nope, not me. Some exist to sell something, or to provide a service (soft-core porn, anyone?).
And I guess you might say I provide a service, and that sevice (the intended one, anyway), is to provide a forum in which to disuss politics and just about everything else under the sun in a rational, fact-based, logical, sometimes playful and/or humorous, mostly respectful, way. I also try to provide a place where political changers feel very much at home.
So that’s the service I originally wanted to provide for others. But I was (and am) doing something for myself, too. For just about all of my life I’ve had what someone close to me calls a “seething cranium,” meaning that I tend to ruminate on a lot of things. I can get a bit long-winded—just a trifle!—in real life, and it’s not an experience completely unknown for me to see the occasional eye glaze over when I try to talk about something near and dear to my heart. But here, here, I can talk about whatever I want and get it off my chest or just plain share something I find fascinating, and I draw like-minded people whose eyes maybe won’t glaze over so readily.
But there’s more. Because of my political change experience, I call them like I see them, and in doing so I try as best I can to tell the truth. I believe that the truth will help us all make the best political decisions. Back when I was a liberal Democrat (or thought I was), every time Ronald Reagan said something that I thought sounded smart, I might pipe up about it to a few of my fellow-liberals, who would sometimes look at me funny, with suspicion (through their somewhat-glazed eyes, that is). Later, if George W. Bush didn’t sound all that dumb to me, I might say so, too. And if I thought the 2000 election was really a toss-up, and I was willing to abide by the Court’s ruling that Bush was the winner (despite my bitter disappointment), I said that, too.
In other words, I wasn’t a political shill for the left or the MSM then, and I certainly don’t intend to be one for the right now.
Yes, Hillary Clinton is terrible, horrible, vile. But if I see Donald Trump as also terrible, horrible, vile—although in a different way and with different faults—it behooves me in this election to try my best to sort out who’s who and what’s what and in what ways each would be terrible, and act accordingly in the voting booth. I have already said I cannot envision ever voting for her and have trouble envisioning ever voting for him—and although I might do the latter, he’s been making it more and more difficult lately to the point where it’s close to possible. I say that with terrible sorrow, because I consider this election year a tragedy for America and for the world. We had many choices that I think would have been excellent, and I believe that we (I speak collectively, not personally) made the wrong choices.
I consider it my duty as a voter and a human being to explore the question of who to vote for with as much truth and integrity and good judgment as I can possibly muster, and I am deeply offended at the idea that I’m required to lie or cover up what I see as my assessment of Donald Trump. Fortunately for Trump supporters who think I should keep quiet about his flaws (and should look away even if he shoots someone on Fifth Avenue), I don’t have that much influence in the world. But still, I have to do what I see as my duty, which is to tell the truth of what I see and the way I evaluate it, so that I can make the best decision possible. Asking me to keep quiet begs the question, because it only would make any sense at all (forget the moral dimension; I’m just speaking practically now) if in fact we knew who was better and who was worse, and I contend that we do not.
And about that “responsibility for the election of Hillary and everything she does” part—if she is indeed elected, the responsibility for that would lie in:
—the voters who chose the execrable Hillary Clinton in the primaries.
—Donald Trump himself, who is what he is and says what he says, and mounted a losing campaign.
—Hillary Clinton herself, who is what she is and says what she says, and mounted a winning campaign.
—The people who voted for Hillary Clinton in the general.
And what would I be responsible for if I don’t vote for Trump? I would be responsible for failing to help to elect Donald Trump. By not helping to elect Donald Trump, I would be part of preventing his presidency, and whether you think that’s a good or bad thing depends on the very question we’ve been debating here so mightily and for so long: who would be the worse president of the two, and why, and how?
In that endeavor, Hillary is the more known quantity—and thus in recent months I’ve devoted less attention to her—and Trump the unknown quantity. Some people say that argues in his favor, but I don’t see that as necessarily so. But that’s an issue on which reasonable men and women can disagree.
I wish I had the proverbial crystal ball to see the two alternative futures, President Hillary Clinton versus President Donald Trump. Short of that, though, we have to puzzle it out ourselves, and that requires honesty. And even after the election comes and the winner is inaugurated and begins the task of being president, and the potential becomes reality and then history, we’ll never know the alternative history of what might have been.
If Hillary is president, we’ll know what she does as president, but we don’t know what Trump would have done. Would he have been much better, as his supporters will no doubt argue as they blame those who didn’t vote for him? We’ll never never know (unless he were to be elected in 2020, and even then it would be at a different point in history). Would he have been worse, as others will say? We’ll also never know. And the opposite is true, of course, for speculation about a Hillary presidency if Trump were to be elected. And although I think we’d be on much firmer ground if we are trying to guess what she would have done, because she has much more of political track record, we still would never know for sure—although if a President Trump does good things, I think we could be pretty certain he’s better than she.
Kundera describes his vacillating hero, Tomas, in the throes of making a decision about whether or not he is in love with a certain woman:
“He remained annoyed with himself [for not knowing what he should do] until he realized that not knowing what he wanted was actually quite natural.
“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come…There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live our lives without warning, like an actor going on cold.”
In making both in our personal and in our political decisions, we can weigh things. We can look at the facts. We an make lists of pros and cons. We can bring all our forces of logic, knowledge, experience, and intuition to the solution of our dilemma. But we can never know what the alternative would have brought. We can only do our best.