Yesterday, if I am honest with myself, I went to the polls not really feeling I had a candidate. But as a woman, I thought well maybe the time for a female president had come, although I know full well the political history of Hillary Clinton. But also as a woman with a brain, I knew in my heart of hearts Donald Trump was not my guy.
I went to the polls an Independent. I woke up still an Independent in what feels like almost a skewed reality. Like everyone else who couldn’t stay awake last night, I woke up with the most unlikely U.S. President since well…Andrew Jackson. No, I did not invent that comparison. Truthfully I first ready about it in The New York Times in February (February 16, 2016) when they said:
….Mr. Trump’s rhetoric resonates with a particular American political tradition. Voters may not know the details of that tradition, but they feel it viscerally when a politician taps into it. Mr. Trump has done just that by emulating a classic model of American democratic leadership….
Consciously or not, Mr. Trump’s campaign echoes the style of Andrew Jackson, and the states where Mr. Trump is strongest are the ones that most consistently favored Jackson during his three runs for the White House.
What Mr. Trump borrows from Jackson is not an issue, but a way of thinking about the world. Mr. Trump promises to fix his supporters’ problems, no matter who else is hurt. He’s a wealthy celebrity always ready for a fight, a superpatriot who says he will make America great again. He vows to attack government corruption and defend the common man. All this could be said of Jackson….
Riding his fame to the White House, Jackson captured the imagination of ordinary citizens who’d never voted in such numbers before. He crushed rivals who considered him crude, barbaric and even a danger to the republic.
Jackson had a captivating style, and not just because of his wild hair. He did what he wanted, and demanded respect. In an 1806 duel, he shot and killed a man who had insulted him in a newspaper. Mr. Trump’s Twitter broadsides at his critics are gentle by comparison.
Like Mr. Trump, Jackson made his fortune in real estate….And again like Mr. Trump, a former Democrat and independent, Jackson did not worry about consistency.
Other political pundits and television talking heads prattled on about the same thing last night as the returns came in, but I first read about it in The New York Times.
Last night the results and the election were described as a “rejection election” as well. And I do not think honestly that America rejected Hillary Clinton because she was a woman. They rejected her because she’s Hillary Clinton, with (like it or not), a literal path of bodies in her political wake.
But Donald Trump? As a friend texted this morning:
No other US Presidential candidate in memory has given offense so freely and been so battered by scandal, and lived to fight on and win.
Well…except for Andrew Jackson. Now one thing about the Andrew Jackson Presidency is during it there was a major financial crisis that according to a historian I know, historians are still trying to figure out. Of course we can also thank President Jackson for the Indian Removal Policy. Yes, think Trail of Tears.
Back to the banking and financial crisis of Andrew Jackson’s tenure in office. Wikipedia sums it up nicely:
Removal of deposits and censure
In 1833, Jackson removed federal deposits from the bank, whose money-lending functions were taken over by the legions of local and state banks that materialized across America, thus drastically increasing credit and speculation. Three years later, Jackson issued the Specie Circular, an executive order that required buyers of government lands to pay in “specie” (gold or silver coins). The result was a great demand for specie, which many banks did not have enough of to exchange for their notes, causing the Panic of 1837, which threw the national economy into a deep depression. It took years for the economy to recover from the damage, but the bulk of the damage was blamed on Martin Van Buren, who took office in 1837. Whitehouse.gov notes,
Basically the trouble was the 19th-century cyclical economy of “boom and bust”, which was following its regular pattern, but Jackson’s financial measures contributed to the crash. His destruction of the Second Bank of the United States had removed restrictions upon the inflationary practices of some state banks; wild speculation in lands, based on easy bank credit, had swept the West. To end this speculation, Jackson in 1836 had issued a Specie Circular requiring that lands be purchased with hard money—gold or silver. In 1837 the panic began. Hundreds of banks and businesses failed. Thousands lost their lands. For about five years the United States was wracked by the worst depression thus far in its history.
The U.S. Senate censured Jackson on March 28, 1834, for his action in removing U.S. funds from the Bank of the United States. The censure was a political maneuver spearheaded by Jackson-rival Senator Henry Clay, which served only to perpetuate the animosity between him and Jackson. During the proceedings preceding the censure, Jackson called Clay “reckless and as full of fury as a drunken man in a brothel”, and the issue was highly divisive within the Senate; however, the censure was approved 26–20 on March 28. When the Jacksonians had a majority in the Senate, the censure was expunged after years of effort by Jackson supporters, led by Thomas Hart Benton, who though he had once shot Jackson in a street fight, eventually became an ardent supporter of the president.
Well, the financial markets were already reacting to the real possibility of a President-elect Trump last night when I went to sleep. They are terrified of him.
I said to friends on Facebook before I went to sleep to never discount the power of Pennsyltucky. Hold onto your hats as financial markets react. From one extreme to the other, here we go. I kinda felt Clinton had lost when I went to bed a little after midnight. When I woke up it was confirmed.
So here we are.
I am uneasy. I am uneasy primarily because of healthcare. Obaamacare is seriously flawed, no doubt. But repealing it will cause millions of us to be completely and utterly screwed. Including people like me who has always kept myself covered even if through self-pay before there was even an Obamacare.
But I am a giant pre-existing condition as a five year breast cancer survivor. I was already screwed this year by Aetna who officially dumped all those people on the Exchange in PA, and then dumped those of us who were self-pay by removing all of the plans that allowed us any kind of acceptable care for one low tier bullshit plan at premium prices that was once basically their lowest of the low covers nothing plans. When I contacted them they told me in spite of my desire to keep the care team which literally saved my life, as an active cancer patient still in treatment because I am on breast cancer meds for five more years, I was told I could pick new doctors.
I couldn’t. So I got forced onto the Exchange. In Pennsylvania, so our part of the state unless you are on a larger corporate plan (and if corporate plans don’t allow for spouses or domestic partnerships you also end up on the exchange), pretty much we are all Keystone or Keystone. So I found an Independence Blue Cross Plan I could afford for 2017, but what will happen to all of us once Trump becomes president?
So Trump is the hand political fate has dealt us.
I read an essay in The New Yorker when I woke up. It was published at 2:40 a.m. I think people should read it. I am only going to excerpt a couple of brief bits:
The New Yorker NEWS DESK
…Trump ran his campaign sensing the feeling of dispossession and anxiety among millions of voters—white voters, in the main. And many of those voters—not all, but many—followed Trump because they saw that this slick performer, once a relative cipher when it came to politics, a marginal self-promoting buffoon in the jokescape of eighties and nineties New York, was more than willing to assume their resentments, their fury, their sense of a new world that conspired against their interests. That he was a billionaire of low repute did not dissuade them any more than pro-Brexit voters in Britain were dissuaded by the cynicism of Boris Johnson and so many others.
….Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate but a resilient, intelligent, and competent leader, who never overcame her image among millions of voters as untrustworthy and entitled. Some of this was the result of her ingrown instinct for suspicion, developed over the years after one bogus “scandal” after another. And yet, somehow, no matter how long and committed her earnest public service, she was less trusted than Trump, a flim-flam man who cheated his customers, investors, and contractors; a hollow man whose countless statements and behavior reflect a human being of dismal qualities—greedy, mendacious, and bigoted. His level of egotism is rarely exhibited outside of a clinical environment.
So here we are. A new President-elect, but still a country divided. American politics which I used to love is now something I find exhausting.
And I still feel left out. Where do those of us in the middle go from here? Where is that place for those of us neither far right, nor far left?
I think I am going to try to take a page out of a friend’s book. My friend Gwen says the following this morning:
What do we do? Take a day to cry or gloat, as the case may be. But then we have to move on. The popular vote was split–there are just as many people on both “sides.” But the secret is that the vast majority of us live in one middle ground, with the louder people on either edge purporting to speak for us.
I think the next few years are going to hold stark realization for many. Whether you’re hoping for wholesale regulation repeal and a giant wall or you think that you’re going to lose your livelihood, rights and health insurance, you’re going to be surprised at what you do and don’t get. (The exit song was “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which I believe was prescient.) None of us really knows.
Our problems didn’t disappear overnight, and they’ll need hard work and compromise to overcome. All we can do is control what we can control and work for what we think is right. Treat people with respect. Stop reading garbage, divisive websites. Listen to the other side, learn what you don’t know, and try to find common ground. Get involved in the process. Raise your kids to be good people. But, if you really love this country, you can’t give up, live in hate, or ruminate. We’re better and stronger than that.
Her words are wise and measured. Change can be a tough pill to swallow. But we are still Americans, right? Do we really need politicians to help make America great again? Or are we already great because we are Americans?
We need to be our authentic selves. We need to try. We need to stop hating each other because of political perspectives. We need to remember those who died to give us those freedoms to squabble over politics.
Today, no matter what side we are on, we are experiencing a literal political hangover. It’s a damp and rainy day and we all stayed up way too late watching the returns come in.
It’s time to take down the signs, put away the sharp and nasty words and breathe and be. Democracy spoke, and like it or not we have our new president. While he gets to celebrate victory, we still have lives to lead.
Time to get back to it. Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party, Libertarian. We are all Americans. We are still free. We are still us.
That’s all I have got. Day after, we are still us.