Grumpy Old Man: Gimme shelter

There’s been a lot of reaction to Donald Trump’s election, and it just might turn out that a storm indeed is threat’nin’.

November 17, 2016 18:33
4 minute read.
US election

A Trump supporter adjusts her hat as she waits at President-elect Donald Trump’s election-night rally in Manhattan. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Ooh, a storm is threat’nin’/
My very life today/
If I don’t get some shelter/
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

(The Rolling Stones)

Donald Trump won. Who’da thought? Most probably, not even the candidate himself. But now the die is cast and all we can say is that barring the unexpected – and this leaves a lot of leeway, considering everything that’s happened – the mold that’s emerging remains quite unsettling.

True, we might all be pleasantly surprised.

Long seen by many as an extremist and an unrepentant terrorist (and frighteningly portrayed by Mapai moms as a bogeyman who’d come after their kids if they didn’t behave), Menachem Begin became prime minister and made peace with Egypt. Ariel Sharon, who Begin only half-jokingly said might someday surround the Prime Minister’s Office with tanks, became prime minister through peaceful means and went on to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Having to bear the weight of the responsibility thrown into your lap when you’re actually in charge can do that to you. It could even do it to a dark, spiteful and crude narcissist like Trump.

But many think not. They’re taking to the streets, insisting that Trump will never be their president. They’ve blocked traffic, burned an American flag or two, smashed windows and confronted the cops. It could go on, and it could get worse.

ON THE one hand, you can’t blame them. In fact, you can blame Trump.

On election night in 2012, when there were signs that Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney might end up with more popular votes than President Barack Obama but insufficient electoral votes to actually win, Trump tweeted the following: “We can't let this happen.

We should march on Washington and stop this travesty….” And this: “Lets [sic] fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us.” And finally this: “The electoral college [sic] is a disaster for a democracy.”

And of course, during his campaign for the Republican nomination, he hinted (threatened is more the word) that his supporters would riot if he were to be denied the crown. And it was he who coyly refused to say, right up to the end of the general election, whether he’d accept the outcome if he lost.

I’d venture to say that many of those who’ve been taking to the streets were horrified when Trump made such comments, yet here they are, putting his words into action when they don’t get their way. That’s a double standard.

So on the other hand, these protests are a bit off-putting – though not nearly like the celebs who said they’d leave the country if Trump won (can’t wait to see what they do now) or the rabbi who said congregants felt a “need to sit shiva” or the campuses that announced they’d be offering therapy dogs and even Play- Doh and coloring books for distraught students.

In the conservative British magazine The Spectator, journalist Brendan O’Neill wrote this: “If you want to know why Trump won, just look at the response to his winning. The lofty contempt for ‘low information’ Americans. The barely concealed disgust for the rednecks and cretins of ‘flyover’ America…. The haughty sneering at the vulgar, moneyed American political system and how it has allowed a wealthy candidate to poison the little people’s mushy, malleable minds.”

And he’s right, for we can’t help but have noticed during the campaign and in its aftermath all the sneering disdain brought on by little more than sheer elitism. But there is every justification for sneering disdain – no, make that a Munchian scream – over the fact that Trump and many of his supporters trampled wantonly on basic decency, and continue to do so.

A PART of me loved the idea of shaking things up in Washington, just as I love the idea of shaking any sluggish system out of its lethargy and inertia. Yet I’m absolutely frightened by the hatred that’s bubbled to the surface, and dismayed at the way Trump not only allowed it, but seemed to encourage it with an endless blathering of ambiguities and non sequiturs. Now, with his victory, I’m even more frightened that the haters have become emboldened.

It doesn’t help, either, when Trump decides to keep his pal Steve Bannon around, and in a position of great power, too. You know Bannon – the one who gave a safe space to Stormfront subscribers, the one whose ex-wife once accused him of choking her and saying he didn’t want his daughters going to school with Jews because they “raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats.’” If you voted for Trump because you wanted change, and not out of bigotry, misogyny, homophobia or xenophobia, it’s up to you to turn to the haters he lured from under their rocks. You must call them out. You must do so using the most vile adjectives you can conjure up.

And you must tell them that there’s no place for such ideologies in a decent, democratic society.

What’s more, you must tell this to Trump himself. It doesn’t matter what all those young people in the streets might think about him – surely, he’s your president.

That wet stuff on your faces? It’s not rain. But it’s a good sign of a coming storm.

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