I have lived through 12 U.S. presidents and 17 presidential elections before this one. From what I can remember, each one resulted similarly: Half the citizens of our country celebrated the longlast coming of the savior, while the other half bemoaned the arrival of end times. But in every single case, neither occurred. I am confident that this trend will continue.
After so many decades, it almost pains me to note that most of our lives don't seem to change after an election—regardless of how you vote, whether you vote at all, or which way the current political winds blow.
Recall how we were recently bemused by bright shiny objects held before voters' eyes in the form of outlandish pronouncements by Donald Trump. First, he planned to deport 12 million undocumented Mexicans. Then, only some of them. There was a wall, then a fence. Then, the banning of Muslims from entering America ... but allowing some after "extreme vetting." He expects to punish women who choose to have abortions. But, then, maybe he won't.
Many of us marveled at how many shifting winds could come from one source. We were entertained because we knew that all of this would soon be behind us, when Hillary Clinton won by a landslide.
On Sept. 28, a hurricane named Matthew struck, and suddenly we reacquainted ourselves less from the consequences of a blowhard and more from a hard, damaging blow. In little more than one week, that uncontrollable weather killed upward of 1,600 souls. Life as many knew it would be disrupted for decades to come. Millions suffered real economic and health harm, and more than $10 billion in damage was done.
Much of the world jumped into action. Tens of thousands of victims were housed in Red Cross shelters. They were fed and hugged by volunteers—people of goodwill and big hearts. The U.S. Navy and Marine helicopters brought food and supplies to starving people in Haiti. FEMA and various National Guard units deployed to hard-hit areas in Florida, Georgia, both Carolinas and Virginia. Then, all too quickly, the drama of unleashed nature lost its hold on our attention, as social media and cable news shifted back to the entertainment of presidential politics.
That is how Americans are with our attention—quick gut reaction, selfless response, then back to our screens. Remember the "Bernie Revolution," as it once was called? Previously apathetic young voters turned out to caucus in record numbers. The "revolution" blew in with hurricane force. Then, much like Matthew, it fizzled out.
Silly me, I thought that the hundreds of thousands of people who lined up at polling places to vote for Sen. Sanders wanted all of the things he stood for: better jobs, affordable education, living wages, affordable health care, LGBTQ rights, tax reform, fairness to immigrants, etc.
Evidently, it was none of those. It seems that many Americans were simply infatuated with the idea of revolution, and didn't realize it requires more than a few signs and rallies. Sanders tried to keep his revolution alive throughout the election process, but it wasn't to be. His revolutionary guard jumped to the trending new shiny object, Trump.
Trump stands for nothing that Bernie supporters loved. Yet, many Berniacs became moths attracted to the Donald flame. He showed that his "art of the deal" is to find any parade to jump in front of. He renounced his prior progressive positions for a new right-wing agenda. As he had done before with bankers, business contractors and mail-order students, Trump adjusted his truths to appeal to the audience of the moment. He projected all the observations ever made about him onto his opponents. Lying Donald, who never let truth get in his way, called out "Lyin' Ted." Then, after Trump won, the Ted formerly known as "lyin'," was rehabilitated back into a good guy. Trump labeled House Speaker Ryan "weak," but now Ryan is a good guy, too.
Will Trump's Supreme Court be anti-LGBTQ? Sexist? Anti-human rights? Will he reduce taxes for the 1 percent and increase the burden for the lower 20 percent as reported by The Wall Street Journal? He built his career telling people what they want to hear, while equally screwing bankers, small business contractors, students looking for a better life, his own employees, and women. But, still, if you follow stock markets and culture news, you expect him to be honest.
After Sanders lost the primary, he feared the Trump Armageddon and raced around the country trying to convince people to get off their butts and vote progressive to keep his vision alive. But, many of you who came out in brute force for the Bernie revolution forsook him in a heartbeat.
Locally, you still had the power to use your loud caucus voice to change Utah Legislature, to improve the transportation system, to improve air quality, to protect water and to maintain the wonderful outdoor recreational mountains that you love. Well, as we know, a lot of you didn't bother.
Are any of these things as important to you as they were when you stood in line for hours during the caucus? If so, why did you give up and let the one-party system prevail as it does in Vladimir Putin's Russia?
In Utah, candidates who champion progressives had really counted on you. Those candidates who ran on your issues—like Suzanne Harrison, who lost by just five votes—will never be your voice in the legislature if all you continue to do is complain on Facebook.
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