One take is that the system worked once again. Just as the Republic survived Watergate, it has survived this. Yes, in the same sense that two boxers beat each other to a bloody pulp, and one staggers but stays on his feet, while the other falls to one knee and stumbles to his corner. The physical and brain damage will be measured later — sometimes years later — and it’s impossible to know at the time which one suffered the worst. It’s not necessarily true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Another take is that Trump Derangement Syndrome is not a fiction. A large part of the news media and the political establishment lost its senses, became consumed with hatred, and pursued a vendetta against the legitimately-elected president of the United States, who they believed, in spite of a lack of any credible evidence, had stolen the election. Vendettas are honor-based wars of personal destruction. It’s impossible for either side to back down, inevitably leading to tragedy.
Early in the 20th century, the news media proclaimed the intention to become an impartial truth-seeking establishment, separating reporting of events and facts from opinion and analysis. There is no longer any doubt that this ideal has been abandoned, if it was ever taken seriously to begin with. Anyone in the media who says they played this one straight down the middle is either deluded or a liar. Everyone took sides, with the vast majority on the anti-Trump side. No sensible person can any longer ignore the reality that the “mainstream media” is liberal/leftist, and that the worst of it has become a shill for the left. The disgrace is nearly universal, the damage to reputations immense. There should be deep soul-searching and numerous apologies. If there is any common sense left in the media companies’ managements, the most egregious offenders will be fired, and they will attempt to establish something resembling balance and impartiality. But I won’t hold my breath. Whatever is lacking among the practitioners of the profession, self-righteousness and ideological blinders are in ample supply.
There is a saying, attributed to Churchill among many, that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. One need look no further than American presidential politics for proof, starting with the contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1800, which set the bar for political skullduggery at ground level. The election of 2016 will enter the history books as one of the lowest points in a record that has few high points, but not because of vote-rigging, incontinent rhetoric, or any of the other usual, disreputable reasons. Instead, because the losing party refused to accept the results and did everything in its power to destroy the duly-elected president. One need not be an admirer of Donald Trump (and I’m not) to realize this. The danger to the Republic in this case didn’t come from the winner, but from the losers. And, even more incredibly, it would appear that, as of this writing, they still have no intention of accepting the loss and moving on to the next election. See Trump Derangement Syndrome above.
Both political parties need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves: In 2016, was this the best we could do? Couldn’t we find a better candidate than this lowlife? One was a talentless, unaccomplished, ruthless hack and probable felon so lacking in charisma and confidence that she had to conspire with the powers in her party to make sure a socialist didn’t get the nomination. The other was a crude, egotistical, “reality TV” star proud to be unprincipled and filthy rich, a serial womanizer who humiliated multiple trophy wives, also probably a felon, whose primary attraction was that he violated every rule of the political game, including common courtesy to the other candidates of his own party. Pathetic. If they can’t do better than this, who needs them? Here’s a suggestion to start rebuilding shattered reputations: Close the primaries. Only bona-fide party members should be allowed to nominate their candidates.
So, who profited? Only our adversaries, who succeeded in dividing this nation more bitterly than it’s been since at least the 1960s, and arguably since the 1850s. Of course, that’s what enemy intelligence services live to do, but, incomprehensibly, this time they had the full cooperation and assistance of a large part of our own political and media elites. Who knew that “useful idiot” was a real thing?
Kenneth D. Gough of Elizabethton is a semi-retired businessman.