I'm a long veteran of mindful exploration, and when the hobby manages to stay this side of narcissistic navel-gazing, I've learned a thing or two about the workings of that oddity called the Mind of Mercurious.
One thing I'm aware of is that the old noggin has an interesting way of concocting its own stories. The stories it hatches sometimes ask to be called "truth," but close examination shows that pretty much every story contains a good measure of fictional story-telling. When in a buouyant, jubilant mood, deep looking reveals an inner story that is preposterously upbeat; and when in a melancholy mood, you'll often find an inner story with a rather dismal plot line.
There is no right or wrong to this, and I'd be the last to suggest that there is some kind of "power of positive thinking" dumb-ass self-help advice to be had here. It's just the way it is: the mind tells stories, and sometimes those stories are bright and happy, and sometimes they are dour and discouraging or frightening. Period.
Since Tuesday evening, I've been in as discouraged a mood as I can ever recall, a melancholy bordering on clinical depression. The catalyst, of course, is the election of the Orange Ogre. The depth of this melancholy has puzzled me a little, since incompetence in public officials is nothing new in the world, and in my lifetime I've rolled with Richard Nixon, agonized over Johnson, lamented over Carter, fumed over Reagan, laughed at W.
So why, I wondered, is Donald Trump's election hitting me so goddamn hard?
I've begun to see the reason in just the last day or so. The inner story I've been telling myself has a plot synopsis something like this: "Fifty-nine million of my neighbors and coworkers and distant family members voted for the Orange Oaf because they like his racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, lying bullshit. My nation is full of bad human beings who don't give shit about anybody but themselves."
That's enough to depress anybody, I suppose, especially if you have believed that people are basically good. It's like waking up and discovering that your father was actually Hitler.
But in the last day or so, I've come to understand that while Trump is indeed a lousy waste of oxygen, quite a lot of his non-deplorable voters were acting on another inner story, the opening lines of which went something like this: "Fuck Washington. My kids are drinking poisoned water, my faucets are blowing methane gas from frack explosions, and the goddamn bankers get richer while I'm working at Walmart for $7.00 an hour and can't afford health insurance."
The reality is that for a good chunk of America, Washington—both Democratic and Republican Washington—has betrayed them, again and again. They voted Trump because he was the one guy who didn't represent Washington, and they voted for him for the same reason Bernie Sanders gave Hillary a hard time, and for the same reason that Trump beat all those polished Republicans in the primaries. He was different. The others were all the same. And this time, anyway, being different was more important that being good or even decent. Hillary is a far better human being than Donald Trump, but she is life-long politician, and middle America knows where that story leads.
Pretty sure I'm right about this, because now that we're finally listening to those middle Americans, what we're hearing is that a whole bunch of Obama voters from 2012 voted for Trump this time; that a number of Bernie voters ended up casting their lot with Trump. In a race this close, that's the ballgame, folks. A Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would very likely have won Ohio, Pennyslvania, Michigan, Wisconsin—and then my inner story looks much different.
So I offer something of an apology to the young Democrats, among them my daughter and some offspring of other Geezers. We had it wrong. I'm not sure if Bernie Sanders was the guy, but it needed to be somebody outside the box. If I had it to do over again, I would have hoped for Elizabeth Warren, who is as feisty as Bernie Sanders without being mean, who REALLY would take it to the banks and Wall Street, and who is scary smart. If the young democrats are shrewd enough to chuck the old school once and for all and nominate a revolutionary next time, Orange Otis will be out on the streets in four years.