Look, endings are always rough. If it were otherwise, nothing would ever end. And so here we are, at the end of all things, minus Sam to help us through the dark patches.
The above clip would be the perfect expression of a Donald Trump America, except there won’t be any eagles in a few years to save us after they’ve been wiped out by the Chinese hoax of climate change.
But this isn’t about how Donald Trump is a disgusting piece of shit. Anybody with an internet connect knows he ran a white supremacist, xenophobic, misogynistic campaign that spewed an endless mix of lies and hate. It wasn’t subtle, either. He didn’t allude to these things as candidates had before, with wink-wink asides and heavy-handed language. His entire candidacy was predicated on racism and sexism – they were the issues he chose to argue before the public. You can argue about whether Trump is actually racist, xenophobic and misogynist, or whether he was playing to the crowd in an effort to win votes, and for my money, it’s pretty obvious where to land, but what you cannot argue is that his campaign was built upon such sentiment. His pitch was predicated on the idea that a dog whistle was too subtle. And who am I to argue? He won the presidency, after all.
We’ve got 4-8-12 soul crushingly brutalizing years to lament Trump’s presence in the political landscape, if the world survives that long. Lots of time to write about it while drinking heavily.
His opponent is headed out for the curb on heavy trash day. What do we make of such a remarkable public figure? What’s the epitaph? Well, first, and to be clear, Hillary Clinton is not a particularly good person. She is unethical. A warmonger. A money grubber. Yes, she was undone in this election by forces out of her control, by an assault of sexism that was painful to watch, but it does not alter the record of her time in the public sphere. She was – always – a terrible candidate for public office.
She is also a calculating politician and deeply ambitious, the two often going hand in hand. I don’t much mind these last two, after all, I’m not looking for a buddy to have a drink with, I’m looking for government service. Who in politics isn’t calculating or ambitious? My guess is it’s a pretty small number, and most of them are about to take their pension.
Still, it’s this last part that stands out to me. Ambition. Had she not run, Trump would not be in the White House. Does anyone doubt it? We come to the end of Hillary Clinton’s intensely driven political ambition at the moment it forced Donald Trump upon us.
This is somewhat unfair, of course. It’s massively unfair, actually. She did not operate in a vacuum. The DNC is as much to blame as Hillary, force feeding her to the electorate. Still, the culpability rests ultimately on her shoulders. It must. She chose to run, blind to her own faults. She could never see what was so obvious to everyone outside the Democratic party machine – she was a terrible candidate.
She had other options. Other paths to take. After 2008, she could have been a kingmaker. She wanted the crown for herself. And now she’ll live with the knowledge that she must shoulder the blame, partially or fully, for Donald Trump winning the white house. It’s sad, really. Part of me hopes that she’s immune to self reflection, that she’ll choose to blame her enemies (of which there are plenty to choose from) and the agents of chance rather than look inward.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, too. Our candidates, our elections, our public servants are all a reflection of who we are as a people, as a country. I should have done more. I should have shouted from the rooftops. Given more money. Volunteered more time. Convinced more people. We all should have done more to keep Trump from power. Collectively we will pay the price.
In the most cynical version of apportioning blame, it was her naked ambition that blinded her to the reality that her candidacy was always an uphill battle, that she risked the betterment of the country/world in her own mad quest for power, but this seems unduly harsh, an overreach. In the charitable version, which is the one I subscribe to, it was Hillary’s unwavering belief that she was the best person for the job. A genuine belief borne from a lifetime of struggle, persecution, hard work and passion for a better world. That she was never able to look at herself objectively and make the supreme personal sacrifice is hardly the worst thing to say about someone, and if anything, it makes her incredibly human.
I like to think that. It cuts a sympathetic figure. Someone who wanted something good and decent for this world. Maybe it doesn’t matter at all. We’re here. At the end of all things. And she did everything in her power to make it so.