And then there was Trump
After the night of our most distinguished election, I couldn’t help but think of the opening lines of a Yeats poem, The Song of the Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head
The whole thing was burning me up and I couldn’t help but feel like a fool for getting so wrapped up in it. Especially me, who has so many things in life to be grateful for. I’m usually the kind to step back and see the bigger picture.
Even as a passionate observer of politics, I try to stay away from partisanship. I vote a purple ballot.
In 2004 I voted for George W Bush. I was a different person then but I don't regret that vote. I understand that person and what they believed in.
In 2008 I voted for Obama. I liked John McCain very much, especially after the boldness of his 2000 primary bid but I was put off by the compromises he made to endear himself to certain groups and the Palin pick was just untenable. Not to mention Obama was a great candidate.
In 2012 I voted for Gary Johnson. I knew my vote didn't matter but I felt the extrajudicial behavior of the executive branch was the most pressing issue of our time. (A position I feel one hundred percent justified in taking now.) I didn't know much about Johnson but the idea of supporting a candidate who might restore the 4th amendment was electrifying to me. And I couldn't bring myself to vote for anyone who would maintain the power to decide who should live and who should die for themselves.
Then came 2016. I shied away from the Bernie v Hillary conflict. I appreciated Bernie's consistency but at the same time distrusted his populist politics. I'm skeptical by nature and populism is one of those things that rings too good to be true. I also believe that international trade has been good for the world in ways so deep, we can't even begin to appreciate it.
I've watched races from all sides, first from the right, then from the left and now from somewhere else. As such, I have been ideologically opposed to many candidates up and down the ballot over the years. But I've never felt that a candidate's election was fundamentally morally wrong. That it would undermine our system. That it, even in the slightest of chances could lead to the collapse of our basic institutions.
And then there was Trump.
And now, I can't stop thinking about what is about to happen. Everything might be fine but it might not. This thing is consuming me. I need to get this out of my head. I’m losing all perspective.
And that Yeats poem, it goes on to tell a bigger story. There’s a fish that transforms into a girl. And the poem’s narrator follows her to the ends of the earth seeing beautiful days and enchanted nights.
I used to think it was just a fanciful poem but I understand it now. It’s about how the beautiful things in life can, even by accident, make you forget the anger and frustration.
For me, I can’t forget but I’m going to do the next best thing. Rather than let those thoughts, the fire in my head burn me up, I'm going to write about them, once a week, until the fire burns out.