Long View — 2016

Confessions lead to perspective.

Confession 1: I did not vote for Barack Obama.  Try not to be shocked.  And yet, a month after his first election I wrote an upbeat essay with a generally positive outlook for the United States and its new president. Remembering 1968; Honoring 2008

I recall very well watching his inauguration, in the living room of our friends, the Kroesens, in Amsterdam. I beamed with pride for my country.  I was happy that they saw me glowing. Happy that the world saw our country aglow. We were in the spotlight, and in a good way for a change.

We were showing the world how it’s done.  No, not the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural parties, celebrations, balls and lime-light performers.  Toss in an eloquent speech.  That’s all just puffery. Rather, I was proud of how we had an election that nearly amounted to a revolution; yet the transition was smooth and peaceful.

An inaugural swearing in is a historical event.  Obama’s even more so. People of all shades and political persuasions were invited to — and attended — the inauguration. Politically and culturally they were diverse; as citizens they were united. It’s hard to believe now, but President Obama enjoyed very favorable ratings among Conservative and Republicans in his first days as president, per Gallup. How quickly things changed.

Confession 2: I did not vote for Donald  Trump.  Try not to be shocked.[1] Combined with confession 1, and the fact I vote in every election (but only once), this puts me in a very, very tiny minority. Nearly alone, I’m pretty sure, and with a very special perspective. It’s like I’m perched on high, on city hall’s mezzanine veranda, looking out over a vast and busy city square with its throngs of people: many going about their business in the market, yet many, many others worked up and fussing about in emotional tizzies. The more they talk with each other, the deeper their dithering tizzies become.  From this perspective I find it difficult, if not impossible, to be upbeat.

We are as divided as we’ve ever been.  Scores of politicians, personalities and pontificating people find it necessary to not only reject the incoming president, but to make it a point to protest and not participate.

I ascribe much of our deep political divisions to the behavior of our last two presidents, particularly #44 [2], and to the apparent total inability of either major party to come up with a likeable and “clean” candidate.

Yes, Trump speaks, acts and tweets divisively.  Even childishly.  I cannot condone that.  Reacting in kind does nothing to unite us.

I know scads and scads of people who supported and voted for Mrs Clinton.  Since I’ve not voted for a presidential winner in nearly three decades, I should be able to understand how  they feel.  Yet I don’t. I feel miles and miles away — a universe away. I’ve never experienced such depth and breadth of disdain for a president-elect in my entire adult life. This doesn’t bode well. Can’t people at least wait until he’s president, and in the meanwhile celebrate our American democracy, with its bloodless changing of the guard?

I also know quite a few Trump supporters. Not one is racist, homophobic, stupid, unthoughtful, hateful or a Troglodyte.  They seemed to me to go about their citizens’ duty with a sort  of  grim determination, like a detective investigating a grisly crime.  “I’m not happy about it, and it’s dirty work — but is has to be done.”

Quite a few left-leaning luminaries will be attending Mr Trump’s inauguration.  I applaud them.

Begin with the Clintons.  Together again.

Jimmy Carter.

And of course, Barack Obama.

And the 200 or so Democratic Senators and Congressmen who will attend.  Good for them all.  This is not their day to grandstand.  It is America’s day.

If we cannot stand united to honor our democratic functions, then we have little chance of uniting when destiny calls upon us to deliver our very best in her hours of greatest need.


Joe Girard (c) 2017

[1] I almost wear this as a badge of honor.  I vote for losers.

[2] Almost immediately after the 2009 inauguration, President Obama took to belittling, lecturing and (legislatively) ignoring Republicans.  With both houses, he lectured: “Elections have consequences.”  And “We won, you lost.”  And finally, “Eat your peas.”

This demeaning behavior was the cake. The thick icing was a nearly perpetual state of campaigning, and passing of legislation without so much as consulting the other side of  the aisle, nor soliciting a vote of support.  Message: you’re not needed here.

6 thoughts on “Long View — 2016”

  1. Lee

    We voted for libertarians for decades until we figured out we were wasting our votes. I voted for O in ’08, Chris didn’t (I still don’t know who she voted for). In ’12 we both voted for McCain although we aren’t proud of it. We both voted for the braggart egotistical Trump in ’16 hoping he’ll come to his senses (or his advisors will control him) and he’ll really bring the USA back economically. That’s mostly what we care about, our debt and the unemployment of the lower class working people. They’re the secret to making the U.S. great again — they MUST be given jobs, no welfare, for the country to come back and for the ghetto families to have fathers again. Sure hope he gains some sense in the White House…but I seriously doubt it…

    1. Joe Post Author

      Hey Lee. Hope I described your sort accurately and fairly. You couldn’t have voted for McCain if you voted for O. You must’ve meant Mitt (’12). Joe

  2. Mark

    I tried not to be “shocked” over confession #2, but I was, as I would have bet my last penny you would have been fed up with what has happened to our Country after 8 years and where our Country was headed. Sue and I along with a lot of other Americans decided it was time to cast our vote for the party that would “Make America Great Again”. Now we’ll see if we made the right decision. Mark

  3. Carmen Ennis


    I like your essay. Let’s hope the changing of power does not result in violence this week! I can’t stand all the whining; but, I do understand and appreciate peaceful protesting. Out country has serious problems that require serious solutions. I am optimistic about the future of our country! i believe our democratic process worked and works! The whiners need to figure out how they can positively and effectively contribute to solve National problems that benefit all the people not just line their own pockets.

    I think the incoming administration needs to refrain from or better filter their social media as they are giving away their strategy and plans to the whole world. I think they need some discipline to hold back as they have eliminated the effective element of surprise. I do think some very smart folks are being brought into the cabinet though they are controversial. I think we need a shakeup in Washington to solve the serious issues facing our country. I also like how there is a mix of young and old as far as advisers go. I think we should have representation from all generations etc to develop intelligent and effective solutions that impact all generations, including future ones.

    Looking forward to the outcome! You know what is cool about our voting process is that it is private. Everyone does not have to announce who they voted for they just have to accept that the process works and support the new Administration so we are United against all enemies domestic or foreign.



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