Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election 2016: Buyer's remorse

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 5:05 AM

ILLUSTRATION COURTESY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Illustration courtesy Shutterstock
What do you say on Election Day when you have a presidential election that features two of the least liked candidates in memory? When the energy is ginned up so high that your keyboard practically needs an "unfriend" button? When choosing a candidate from a major political party becomes a referendum on one's political identity? And causes people to scream at you in all capital letters online?

Which will you choose? The hated blowhard whose followers seem supercharged with jingoism, nativism, and racism? The triangulating opportunist who mouths platitudes toward the people while championing fracking and the military-industrial complex, and wallowing in corporate money?

Or are you one of those "crazies of conscience" who'd rather "throw their vote away" by voting for one of the alternatives to what has become a system that offers two widely loathed choices? If so, it is the sin of self-satisfaction that allows you to make choices that will, in the end, hurt other people. Hope you're happy with that!

Now that all that is out of the way, if I may hazard a few predictions:

Whoever wins the presidential election will become the most-hated president freshly entering the Oval Office.

Whoever wins the election, we will see more misery, more arrogant displays of military power, more inequality, more environmental degradation, and more alienation from our government.

Whoever wins the election, the supporters of that candidate will feel buyer's remorse almost immediately, as all the promises made during the campaign are swiftly broken, or "deferred" while more important business is dealt with.

We are heading into a period of radical disillusionment for the American people. In the heat of a general election, passions always run high. But as the results of today's election become clear, I expect a lot of Americans are going to feel that disorienting sensation that they've been had. They'll rub their eyes, look at how the world remains the same, and feel misled.

But is that such a bad thing? Ultimately, it seems that disillusionment is long overdue in American life. As George Carlin once said, "They call it the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." The breaking of the enchantment, the shattering of the illusion, should revive the good sense of the electorate and help it find agreement in the coming years.

For instance, one of the social networking posts that eased the tension for me this election season was one that seemed to have no illusions. It said, "Voting is a suggestion box for slaves."

It's cold, it's hard, and I'm not sure I totally believe it. I watch the municipal elections carefully, and I'll be voting in those because I believe they can produce good results. County and multi-county elections, less so. State elections, given all the gerrymandering and other funny business, I'm even less hopeful about.

But presidential politics? With billions of dollars being spent by corporate players who don't have to disclose any information, the two major candidates were bought and sold long before little old me (or you) ever had a chance to influence their beliefs. And I really don't believe either of the major candidates will do what they say they will anyway. They'll do what is expedient for them. Clinton will serve her big-money backers. And Trump will ... well, Trump will remain as self-serving as he appears to be.

Instead of celebrating the person who wins this election, we should be meeting immediately afterward to oppose the winner. I mean that quite earnestly. We should gather and work out plans to stop the coming wars, the increasing austerity, the TPP, the growing security state.

The election isn't about settling who's going to win so much as who's going to be running a game on the American people for another four years. We have finally perfected the game of lesser-evilism by providing the least-liked presidential candidates since they started keeping records on it. But once backers of both candidates find they've lost, we'll have gained something.

In that sense, buyer's remorse will bring us together. Well, that's something, isn't it?

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