Donald Trump Victory Reaction: The American Left Struggles To Regain Perspective

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Rather than following through on their much-publicised threats to leave the country in the event of a Clinton defeat, Donald Trump’s most vehement left-wing opponents are now making plans to stay in America and become completely insufferable instead

There is something to admire in Michael Krikorian’s instruction to his readers to rediscover their courage, stand and fight against the incoming Trump administration for what they believe in, delivered in his latest LA Times Op-Ed.

I particularly like the acknowledgement – largely missing among the mass hysteria – that America has indeed been through “far worse” before, and survived:

No one’s moving anywhere. My friends Dahlia and Chris aren’t going to Mexico, and Alexis is not going to Copenhagen. My gal Nancy’s not permanently packing up and moving to Umbria, and Duke is not moving to Thailand with his cousin Jake.

And you?  You aren’t going wherever the heck you say you are moving to now that Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States of America.

What we all do is this: We stay and fight.

First, we wait and see. Even Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

But if we don’t like what happens, we fight it. We take to the streets and rekindle memories of the anti-Vietnam War protests and civil rights marches. We don’t run and hide. We don’t abandon America.

This is all good. Yes, there will likely be much that is objectionable about the coming Trump presidency, for conservatives and libertarians too, as well as those on the Left. But there is no need to sit under a coffee table and cry like you are five years old and still scared of monsters or fireworks or loud noises. Rediscover some backbone and composure. We are all adults here.

But then just as Krikorian is on a roll of common sense, he goes on to remark:

I feel, strangely, not what I thought I would “the morning after.” I’m more patriotic than I was yesterday. More in love with my country than I have since, I guess, Sept. 11, 2001.

Oh dear. A tacit suggestion that the outcome of this election is the worst thing to befall America since 9/11. To be fair, Krikorian does temper that comparison with this observation:

Yesterday, a guy I know from the streets showed me a knife he had in his waistband. A killing knife. It made me think of “Saving Private Ryan”and a brutal, achingly sad scene:  room-to-room fighting, a German soldier slowly pushing a killing knife into the chest of an American soldier.

When I went home, I Netflix’d “Saving Private Ryan” with the intention of forwarding to that scene, but instead I started watching from the beginning. The first 25 or so minutes show the first wave of Allied forces landing on the beach at Normandy, D-Day, 1944. It’s one of the most powerful  movie sequences ever filmed, and it ends with a panorama of bloody corpses washed along by the tide.

What happened Tuesday doesn’t compare to those days. Everyone walking around like it’s the end of civilization now that Trump is in? It’s not. We’ve  been through far worse. A perceived threat is not as bad as a punch in the face.

So the election of Donald Trump is traumatic enough that it provokes the same resurgence of shock-induced patriotism as 9/11, but bearable enough that watching thousands of British, American and allied soldiers being mown down by machine gun fire on French beaches in Saving Private Ryan puts things back into perspective. Okay, got it.

Do these people ever stop to listen to themselves? Do they ever pause to wonder how those who do not share the same political views are likely to react when they openly declare “I consider you getting your way in a national election to be the worst man-made disaster to befall this country since 9/11”, or “the temporary prevalence of your worldview reduced me to the brink of despair, until I watched a man being bayonetted to death and realised that things could be worse”?

I shouldn’t snipe. Krikorian’s is one of vanishingly few voices from the American Left to tentatively suggest that America still has a future and that the end of the world was in fact likely not set in motion on November 8. And by and large, Krikorian is counselling against hysteria and self-pity, which is an admirable thing to do.

But when some of the coolest heads on the American Left are reacting to Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Donald Trump by counting themselves fortunate not to be storming the beaches on D-Day then it seems we still have some way to go before the two Americas are in a position to talk to one another respectfully or productively.

 

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