Today is Election Day, and we are each and all on the verge of something new. Something unknown. The campaign has been a time of trial—a time of bad dreams, friction, and more than a few out-and-out breakdowns. Charisma, in the form of Donald Trump, has ruptured fault lines in the Republican Party and the nation that existed already. Because of his candidacy, we as a nation and as individuals have gained some self-knowledge the hard way, which is how self-knowledge is always gained. He has tested us, exposing our weaknesses, our normally veiled resentments, our various gnawing dissatisfactions.
Americans need. Some truly live in a state of want, but others are fearful of the future, sensing decline and the increasing challenge of securing work and access to opportunity. Others, not in need, want something other and better than what they already have, and, for that, they’re ready to trade something away. Certainly, this is true of Republicans who have enjoyed considerable political power but insist the political order should be delivering something better than what it has managed to create so far.
Twitter sometimes delivers thought-provoking jewels, such as a tweet this morning quoting Gerald Ford: “Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go.”
Hillary is not an innocent, but someone who has winked at the order herself and at acts within her province that are immoral or unseemly. She is a tarnished political heroine, this ‘First Woman’—the other choice that all our earlier choices have made. Many will vote for Hillary as a symbol of something she doesn’t really stand for, then expect her to wring something better from federal government and the political establishment. She is the good-enough candidate, particularly in the eyes of those who feel no urgency about political change, whose hearts may have stopped bleeding some time ago.
Whatever we stand on the verge of, it is best to acknowledge our complicity. Whichever future we’re on the verge of, it will feature a world of political work that the republican model calls on ordinary people to perform. My hope is that the election will usher in a period of broad ideological ferment and political reorganization, necessary precursors to restoring what is unifying and wholesome in American culture.