I didn’t vote in the US elections this year, although I took the time to ask for my overseas ballot. It wasn’t apathy. I suffered from a feeling of cognitive dissonance so great that I froze. As a right-leaning Libertarian, I could pick a man who I found to be distasteful on a personal level, proposing ideas that I either mildly supported, or which I disagreed with, but considered unlikely to be implemented. Or I could choose a woman who I found to be distasteful on a personal level, proposing ideas that I either generally disliked, but which I found her perfectly capable of pulling off.
I went to sleep on November 8th fully expecting a Clinton presidency, and feeling a moderate level of unease. I woke up to a world where the inmates had taken over the asylum. Friends were calling electoral college votes and giving a countdown to the Clinton concession speech. Other friends were trying to figure out how to leave the States as quickly as possible, while culling their Facebook friends list of any dissenters. Meanwhile, I was chatting with my first ex-husband, a diehard Libertarian now living in the Bay area, who voted proudly for Gary Johnson. Our word of the day: schadenfreude.
Schadenfreude is the third most human of emotions, right behind love and hate. It is the delicious tingle you feel when someone else is miserable, and you aren’t. Given my almost universal acceptance of agnosticism in my personal life, I used to believe that I experienced this state more than most. But after a decade of living in Israel, I’ve come to accept that Jews have turned this into an art form. One key concept of Jewish humor is the mighty who have fallen, and those who expect great things, but receive bupkis.
After a few days of complaining, most of my liberal friends calmed down, although a few still preached doom and gloom. And that is the way of the world. Human beings aren’t built to live in a state of continual panic. We need a chance to reset, so that the next apocalypse can be experienced with the appropriate amount of hysteria. Even the chic Pantsuit Nation group stopped talking about the overthrow of the patriarchy, and got back to the rising costs of vegan chia seed muffins.
But the inauguration stoked the fires once more. And in place of pantsuits, someone knitted pink “pussyhats,” which protesters could wear as a show of strength. Because, as Betty White has expressed, those things can take a pounding. And a grabbing. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of women and male allies gathered around the country and in selected places around the world to speak out against… well, what exactly?
This is where I get fuzzy. What are the protesters expecting? In Facebook discussions, some of my liberal friends have said they want to remind Trump to be compassionate in his choices. I have some serious doubts that a movement that can be comfortable with Ashley Judd referring to the president’s cabinet as “Nazis renamed” can expect Trump to listen to their concerns.
Others said the protests were a reminder that more than half of the voters didn’t support Trump as president. True. Of course, less than 60 percent of those eligible to vote actually chose to do so. And many of those people aren’t exactly excited about the current protests, given that they take place before President Trump has done anything substantive that the left could expect to be changed.
I get it. You don’t like his cabinet choices. Given his campaign promises, these nominations are what can be expected. No amount of protesting is going to get him to choose someone you’ll like for those posts. Other than that, he’s cancelled a mortgage policy that, far from helping the middle class, actually encourages them into financially risk home buying strategies; the same types of strategies that led to the collapse of the banking system. I’ve got to say, that doesn’t sound so bad.
I’m willing to support protests about actual issues, with a clear plan for accomplishing change. Once Trump or his cabinet picks try to enact legislation that is racist, sexist, genderist, or whatever other “-ist” that pops up, bring it up, and I’m behind you… or in front of you, if that’s your preference. But until that happens, I’m not planning on buying tickets to the Pussyhat Dolls latest concert. It’s time to sweep the stage and go home.