Tuesday, May 9, 2017

I'm discouraged.

I should say, right off the bat, that I'm easily discouraged. I'm a defeatist by nature, a pessimist. So take all of what follows with a grain of salt.*

Remember, about two years ago, how comical it was to think of Donald Trump as a candidate for president of the United States? I recall his announcement; I stopped what I was doing to watch it. And I watched it again later and made my wife watch it as well. What great television! Wouldn't it be something, I thought, if the Donald disrupted the whole Jeb! coronation? This could make Hillary's path to the White House that much easier. I have to confess I was positively giddy at the Republicans' misfortune.

Perhaps the universe is now getting even with me. You know, be careful what you wish for.

Trump ended up winning the GOP nomination (can you believe our good luck?) and, like many others, I wondered on election day just how big Hillary Clinton's margin of victory would be. Would her coattails extend into the House and Senate?

And then, again like many others, it slowly became apparent on election night that not only would the vote be a lot closer than we had thought but that Trump was going to be competitive in places like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. What?

I went to bed that night pretty much knowing that Trump would win. I couldn't sleep, though, and at about two o'clock in the morning I received a one-word text from my son in California: FUCK. I figured the networks must have officially called it for Trump. Since I couldn't sleep anyway I got up to watch the carnage on TV. I stayed up all night (I normally get up at 4:30) and sleepwalked through the next day.

But then Trump became president in January and proceeded to do just about as poorly as everyone expected. And after the House abandoned its health care bill about a month ago I thought his presidency would end up even worse than Jimmy Carter's.

But . . . then last week the House passed its disastrous bill and now it's moved on to the Senate. And I'm starting to feel nervous, depressed, discouraged. What if these guys really do repeal and replace Obamacare? What if they pass a tax plan similar to the one they've outlined? Could this really be happening? Will Republicans succeed in making life nasty, brutish and short?

No one really thought Trump would run for president, no one thought he could get the Republican nomination, no one thought he could win the presidency, and no one thought he could actually get anything done in Washington. Now it's looking like we may have been wrong on all counts.

But here's where my gloomy mood comes in. I've been reading, like I'm sure you have, that the House's vote on health care will lead to massive Republican losses in 2018.

I'm not so sure about that.

What if we're wrong again? I hate to say it, but Bill Maher may be right: we live in a stupid country. Can't you see Trump's voters losing their health care and voting for Trump again anyway? Either he'll say they haven't lost their health care or their new health care is better than the old or it's the Democrats fault anyway and his voters will buy it.

I've heard lately that Gov. John Kasich may be thinking of challenging Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination. Good luck! Trump will wipe the floor with him just as he did last time. (Same with Bernie Sanders and/or Hillary Clinton, if they decide to run again.) What do people think has changed? As for the Democrats retaking the White House next time, it's awfully difficult to beat an incumbent. If George W. Bush won reelection a con artist like Trump surely can too.

In short, I'm very discouraged right now. I feel like my fellow Americans are letting me down. Letting us all down.

I've always told my son that while my wife is short-term optimistic/long-term pessimistic I'm just the opposite. My wife wakes up every morning with a smile on her face but is convinced she'll end up homeless someday. Me? I wake up mad at the world but have always been confident that it will all have a happy ending. Like my parents and grandparents before me, I expect to die of old age. (My uncle used to joke that he wanted to "live long enough to be a burden" to his children. Not a bad goal.)

But right now I'm not only short-term pessimistic but longer-term pessimistic. I always thought Trump's shtick would get old when his white working class supporters woke up one day and said, "Hey, where's that great job Trump promised me? Why haven't they reopened the GM plant in Janesville? Is this guy a . . .  fraud?"

But now I'm beginning to think Trump's supporters will stay bullshitted.

I'm currently reading a book about Vietnam, The Nightingale's Song, and I'm getting a feel for how people my age must have felt when it became clear that America was going to lose its first war. In 1968, the year of the Tet Offensive, when many Americans began to give up on the war, my dad was 49 years old. A veteran of World War II, I'm sure he felt like everyone else that America just couldn't lose a war. And yet he had to come to grips with the fact that, yes, we could and we would and we did. I don't remember him saying anything about it, but it must have been a loss of innocence for him and other adults at the time. And I feel like I'm experiencing something similar. All my life, I thought America was special and that we would never, ever elect someone like Donald Trump to the "highest office in the land." You know, Leader of the Free World. And now I'm having to deal with this loss of innocence just like an earlier generation did with Vietnam. Turns out we're not so special after all. Just because things went pretty well for over two hundred years doesn't mean our luck can't run out at some point.

For those of you who are still optimistic and members of the "resistance," keep up the good work. One of my readers wants to be a precinct captain in his local Democratic Party. And Jimmy Kimmel may turn out to be the face of universal health care. As for me, I guess I'll just keep on writing.

* I noticed the other day that since beginning this blog back in the fall of 2008 I've had almost half a million pageviews. That's not nothing, but if it was truly successful I'd have that many pageviews in a month. Still, someone must be reading this besides just a few friends and relatives. I don't know if I've come across as optimistic, pessimistic, positive, negative or what, but in any event, thanks for reading.

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