However, they can only be blamed so much. As I've mentioned before, his voters simply gave in to manipulations that started long ago. The rise of right wing media and the demonization of mainstream media helped prime the target audience. The constant drumbeat that failed policies, like Supply Side (Trickle Down) Economics can work. The misdirection of being continually told that the nation's problems were the fault of, well, pick a group: Democrats, liberals, socialists, elitists, immigrants, minorities, feminists...
The list of the demonized is a long one.
Those of us that claim progressive values didn't help. We demonized them right back. We called them stupid, gullible, hateful fearmongers. We shoved our agendas down their throats, and expected them to swallow it without complaint. Between the actions of the manipulators and those of us who only wanted to push the nation forward, at all costs, those poor marks were no longer able to tell what was good or bad, anymore.
I didn't help that we had international trade deals created by elites, for elites. Sure, for many, trade deals are great! A lot of people made tons more money, primarily corporate interests. But not enough care was given to the industries and workers who were affected negatively. Even programs created to offset the bad side effects of these trade deals, like Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), have only invested a fraction of the profits American companies make off them. For every dollar they got, those losing factories and jobs got pennies, and the newer jobs paid less.
It was only natural that the white, working class populations of red states, already primed to distrust the rest of us, would only grow to resent the rest of the country. It was only natural that they would counter progressive messages of unity, love and equal rights for all, and instead, would be drawn to messages of intolerance and division.
All it took was a Master Manipulator to drop into the arena, like a nuclear bomb. All it took was one man that could help focus all the misinformation, all the outright lies posing as facts, all the mistrust, all the intolerance and hate. All it took was a true cipher, a blank slate upon which they could project their despair and aspirations. The rest is history, assuming there will be such a thing as history left.
So, while I want to hate them, I can't. Better yet, I won't. What's the point? My hate doesn't affect them. It only affects how I feel about them. If it does have any effect, it's only to further alienate them, further drive them away.
And now the hatred is spreading. I'm not talking about the rise of the alt-right, as white supremacists prefer to be called, now. I'm talking about the hatred I alluded to in the inaugural post for this blog, the finger pointing and shaming going on within generally progressive camps. Many of us are mad at Jill Stein voters. Many of us are mad at the people who voted for Gary Johnson. Many of us are mad at those who opted to stay home and give us the lowest turnout in twenty years.
But they were also victims. The far left was just as susceptible to the fake news and conspiracy theories. Many more pragmatic Republicans that couldn't pull the lever for the Worst Case Scenario opted for Johnson. Many tentative voters didn't know what to believe, or were absolutely disgusted by the campaigns. They saw no reason to go to the polls. They didn't see the danger. Like me, they believed the polls. They didn't have to vote to prevent an electoral tragedy.
Like Brexit, there was plenty of remorse in the days following the election. The difference, however, is that we're not just going to be pulled back from the global market. With a majority in both houses of Congress and a conservative Supreme Court, he's essentially been handed a blank check, despite the fact that most Americans didn't vote for him.
Yet, those who defiantly voted for a third party candidate remain defiant. They stand by their choice, by their insistence that their consciences would not allow them to vote for such a "vile" woman. It makes hating them, too, very easy.
Don't! We can't afford to. We can't afford to hate anyone, even the Hate Pumpkin, himself. We should hate acts, deeds, not the people committing them, anyway.
We can't afford it because when the honeymoon is finally over, when the rest of us finally see the reality of this country's choice, only by uniting will we be able to head off any impending disaster, or at least soften the blow.
I'm not claiming to know how bad things will get. Despite the title of this blog, I don't have any crystal ball to tell me this presidency, unchecked, will lead to the end our grand experiment in democracy. Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe he will end up just being a footnote in American history: mostly harmless. Maybe not, though.
And if not, it's going to take the kind of unity never seen in this nation to put an end to it. We're going to need everyone we can get to rise against even the slightest threat of tyranny, the smallest attack on our freedoms, especially speech. They may be able to shut a some of us up, but they can't shut us all up.
None of this is possible in the state that we're in now. We'll just be a bunch of fools shouting at each other, floundering while the world burns.
Stop unfriending people you don't agree with. Stop calling the friends you've kept names. Understand that they are also hurting. Understand that they also want to see a brighter future for their children. Understand that we've all been conned, to one degree or another. For some, it will take longer for them to see that. Some may never see it.
The best advice I can give you, right now, is to take whatever grudge you're harboring, whatever ill will, give it one last glance, know you never want to be there again, then let it be.