Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Aftermath

It's been an interesting day. Professionally, of course, I rotate in academic circles, and despite expecting some gloom, I have been surprised at the sheer level of depression among academics -- I mean, we are talking over-the-top, edge-of-despair kind of stuff. They are just utterly, utterly devastated. It comes out in email, in person, and in their actions. It is astounding. It's like the aftermath of a natural disaster, with everyone walking around in shock.

But, of course, what I see are professionals who, being intellectuals in the real sense of the world, are largely abstracted from the visceral feel of it and professionally disinclined to display it when they do feel it. That there is a whole 'nother world out there is seen on Twitter, which has been nearly twenty-four hours of nonstop angst and fury, with a lot of lashing out and remarkably little soul-searching.

All of this is minor, though; I can sympathize to a point, although it's sometimes difficult not to smile at how over-the-top it has become, and it will no doubt become tiresome if people aren't moving on by next week. But the anti-Trump protests people are having in various cities are annoying me. Are they protests of specific voting injustices? No. The protesters are protesting voting itself. I have no sympathy whatsoever for this. It is, frankly, revolting, as if the United States were some tinpot fresh-from-dictatorship little country, without any sense of due process or the importance of elections, both essential to American honor. Good-faith negotiation is one of the key principles of a free society; and if you have a problem with the fact that you can be outvoted by people whose views are distant from your own, protesting the fact now is a sign that your participation in the election was not in good faith.

Most people are not in such bad faith, however; these are protests of hundreds and a thousand here and there, not large scale. And there is another side to American life.

As I was getting ready to help out with confirmation classes, I stopped to get dinner at a local cafe. There was a table near mine, with about five older women, probably all at least in their fifties and probably from a church group, and they were talking about the election. I try not eavesdrop on other conversations in a restaurant, but bits and pieces of their conversation kept drifting over to my table. As near as I can tell from the fragments I heard, they had all voted against Trump, and had a diversity of reactions to his win. One was really shocked at it, although I didn't hear details of it; another said that while she had been, she had made peace with it and thought it might not turn out as badly as some thought. They talked about the possible implications for their own lives, involving jobs, for instance, and what they might do to take it into account, although I did not catch very many of the specifics. It was reasoned, it was thoughtful, it was practical. And at one point one of the ladies said, "And one thing we will all have to do is pray." And after some discussion, as their dinner ended, pray they did, and they paid their meal and discussed their next meeting and continued on their way.

That, my friends, is rational politics.

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