11 p.m. Tuesday night. The unthinkable had happened. Donald Trump had rolled over Hillary Clinton, winning every battleground state except Colorado, holding his base in the South and Appalachia. He will be our next president.
Karen and I left jubilant Republicans and disconsolate Democrats in their separate but equal ballrooms at the Antlers, and headed for our favorite neighborhood bar, Thunder & Buttons in Old Colorado City. We sat in a booth and did shots with our friend Katie Lawrence, a veteran server.
“My American dream just failed,” said Katie.
So had mine. Maybe I’d spent too much time reading opinion writers for The New York Times and The Washington Post, too much time unfriending Facebook acquaintances who were too noisily pro-Trump and too much time listening to the future president.
Build the wall? Lock her up? Reverse all of Obama’s executive orders on Day 1? Appoint empty-headed puppets of the Federalist Society to the Supreme Court? Encourage Japan and South Korea to build nukes and deal with North Korea on their own? Let the Russians run things in Eastern Europe? Slap ruinous tariffs on imports, and bring on a new Depression?
Crazy stuff, but maybe we should listen to the music, not the words. Unlike any president since Richard Nixon, Trump is not troubled by deeply held beliefs or unshakable principles. He’s applications-oriented, ready to do whatever seems to work on a given day and equally ready to reverse course the day after. He has surrounded himself with useful idiots, but appears to trust only his family members. Of them, his sensible daughter Ivanka is clearly primus inter pares, so in Ivanka we also must trust. It may not be an exaggeration to say that America’s fate depends on a canny 35-year-old Manhattan entrepreneur.
We could do worse.
And Hillary? Should we consign her to the dustbin of history? Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are no second acts in American lives,” but Hillary has had nine or 10 — student activist, Rhodes Scholar, women’s rights activist, attorney, Arkansas’ first lady, first lady of the United States, author, U.S. senator, failed presidential candidate, secretary of state, email sender and, once again, failed presidential candidate. She’s not done.
Trump is not troubled by deeply held beliefs or unshakeable principles.
And neither is our budding local superstar, Electra Johnson. She came within 4,500 votes of beating Republican Stan VanderWerf in the District 3 race for county commissioner. Given that no Democrat has been elected to the deep-red Board of County Commissioners since 1970, and that she was running against a particularly competent, thoughtful and well-qualified opponent, it was an amazing showing.
“I’m not f…ing done,” she said. “I’m going to Italy for 10 days on the 14th, and then I’ll think about it. I’m not done!”
How did the pollsters get it so wrong? Maybe they were so obsessed with crunching numbers that they ignored what was right before their eyes. I know I did.
At the July Trump rally held at UCCS, I was struck by the size, enthusiasm and composition of the crowd. The venue was too small, and thousands waited outside to cheer their candidate.
Twenty years ago, political observers would have taken note; I just dismissed it as an outlier, a one-time Colorado Springs phenomenon. Then there was The New York Times reporter who rode his motorcycle across the Midwest, sticking to the back roads. He saw hundreds of Trump signs, and not a single one for Hillary.
On this bright Colorado morning, I’m tempted by hope. Maybe everything will be OK; maybe Trump will be a decent president — maybe not.
In 1939, Nathanael West’s book “The Day of the Locust” imagined Los Angeles hurled into mob rule by dispossessed Americans with “eyes full of hatred who had come to California to die.” West’s title is taken from Revelation 9:1-6:
“And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
“And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
“And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.”
No wonder the pollsters messed up — next time, poll the locusts. End times, here we come…