The Sunday Edition

How could we — I — get so much so wrong? - Michael's essay

"There are three things to think about right away: One, it's not our country; Two, he's not our leader and Three, Armageddon is not about to break out."
A demonstrator's face is painted with a rainbow flag during a protest in Los Angeles, following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. November 10, 2016. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)
Listen5:01

On the morning after, an early warming sun lit up the street now covered in freshly fallen leaves. A beautiful young woman walking briskly on the other side of the road suddenly looked over and smiled beatifically. Everything was as it should be in the serene November weather.

Except that it wasn't.

A week ago, I sat on a stage in a Port Hope, Ontario, church and told a couple of hundred people to relax, to exhale. I told them he will not be elected. That his winning the presidency of the United States would violate every known political norm. 

It would shatter history, tradition, the laws of mathematics and who knows, the Natural Law itself.

I feel now I should write to those good people in that little church and apologise for my misleading them.

How could we — I — get so much so wrong? What signals, what signs did we miss over the past 18 months? Why did all the pundits, all the pollsters, those of us who live inside the journalism bubble overlook or ignore the scattered shards of evidence? The only one to get it right, to nail the conclusion early on was Michael Moore, the documentary maker.

There are three things to think about right away: One, it's not our country; Two, he's not our leader and Three, Armageddon is not about to break out.

The United States, home of my maternal ancestors, has a storied tradition of xenophobia, of racism, of misogyny. But those dark purveyors of hatred have rarely had so public a tribune, so open a champion. They have been validated and encouraged to come into the light.

The American political culture has been transformed. Emotion has replaced truth. How you feel is now more important that what you know to be true, to be real.    

The shattering pain of the campaign won't go away sometime soon. Echoes of all the lies and threats and bile will hang in the chilly January air of Inauguration Day.
(Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for MoveOn.org Political Action)

It is conventional wisdom these days that the winner doesn't have to carry out the promises he or she made as a candidate.

But if this winner carries out his promises, he will strip health care coverage away from 20 million Americans.

If he does what he promised, people of the Islamic faith will be shut out of the United States.

If he does what he promised, deportation squads will expel 11 million people without proper documents.

If he does what he promised, he will appoint a special prosecutor to seek the imprisonment of one Hillary Clinton.

If he does what he promised, environmental protection will be reduced to a few selective tweets.

In the fateful words of the late Hunter S. Thompson: "How low do you have to stoop in this country to be president?"

I ask myself how I would feel this morning if I were an African-American man or an American Muslim or an American Hispanic, or the American father of a young daughter.

I can only try to imagine.

When Richard Nixon resigned his presidency in 1974, his successor intoned, "The long national nightmare is over."

Nightmares do end. Dawn does break.

One of my favourite novels is All the King's Men, about a southern demagogue named Willie Stark, loosely based on the life of a real demagogue, Louisiana governor Huey Long.

Near the end, Robert Penn Warren writes:    

"After a great blow, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over, for the story which we think is over is only a chapter. And it isn't the game that is over, it is just an inning, and that game has a lot more than nine innings. When the game stops it will be called on account of darkness. But it is a long day."

Click the 'play' button above to hear Michael's essay. 

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