MORNING IN AMERICA: MANOS A LA OBRA
DONALD TRUMP’S BID FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
It’s morning in America, Donald Trump is President Elect, the sun is shining, the water in my shower came on, I’m at work in my office at the university surrounded by the Big Burro Mountains that remind me of Shangri-la, life goes on. Aha! But there’s a lot to do: manos a la obra—let’s get to work!
For a while I thought it was Donald Trump’s Messianic turn that would do him in—when he proclaimed himself as the voice of the “forgotten.” At that moment I truly expected Trump to reach into his inside coat pocket and pull out a parchment with Trump’s Ten Commandments. Turns out, he didn’t need them.
When he was just qvetching and schlepping his brand and tactics hither and yon and putting his name writ large on buildings he was a tolerable nuisance but not a comer. Sensing himself as the lightening rod of a political movement with bountiful if not boundless potential, Trump began to see himself as Il Duce. That’s when his behavior turned antic, his character became buffoon, and his rhetoric brimmed inchoately cloacal. Seems like none of that mattered to Trump’s disciples who managed to squeeze out a plurality victory. Odd how nationally, Donald Trump has won 47.5% of the vote, with Hillary Clinton taking 47.7% – yet this has translated into 278 electoral college votes for the Republicans and 228 for the Democrats.
Considering that the 2016 presidential election was one of the most consequential in American history, the election was never really Trump’s to win as it was to lose. While he did amass a significant following, it never appeared tumultuous enough to gain him the presidency as evidenced by the Republican apostates who publicly disavowed him. And no wonder, considering all the groups he alienated starting with the Mexicans, referring to them as the worst of Mexicans sent to the U.S. by Mexico. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. . . . They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” (“Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime” By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Washington Post, July 8, 2015).
Compounding the situation, Trump vowed to build an impenetrable wall between the U.S. and Mexico insisting that Mexico would pay for the wall. The situation got sticky when Trump went after Prisoners of War and John McCain specifically, made worse when Trump went after American Muslims as an invasive plague and wrangled on national TV with Khizi Khan, Gold Star father of a slain American Muslim soldier. African Americans did not fare better either in their characterization by Trump who sees them as a ghettoized aggregation huddled in hoods.
What stood out passing strange in the fray was Trump’s hauteur seemingly drawn from the Napoleonic era of the French empire, a dismissive hauteur that blocks out self-correction and binds even tighter William Blake’s mind-forged manacles of self destruction. Trump seemed doomed, especially since he has turned out to be the most crass and vulgar presidential candidate in American history surpassing Andrew Jackson (7th President of the U.S. 1829-1837).
As a man of the people, Jackson was the most polarizing political figure of the 1820s and 1830s. And it appears that Trump has become the most polarizing figure of the early 21st century. Once president, Jackson was accuses of adultery and debauchery. How will Trump fare after his victory?
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, hoed a rougher row than Trump: one, as a woman seeking the U.S. presidency; and two, as the wife of an ex-president straddled with pecadillos. Despite the prospective triumph of the first and the experiential edge of the second, Hillary Clinton’s rendezvous with history was, as it turned out, not a shoo-in.
Given the considerations of her competition and the upset of the election, Clinton has borne well the travails of the political race for the White House. Unlike Trump’s egregious attacks on her—though she has given as good as she got—Clinton preserved a more judicious and tempered engagement of their encounters, championing unity and diversity throughout her campaign. In the end this was the less perilous of her approaches to the White House—but it was to no avail. Trump is now echoing Clinton’s diversity posture.
Ironically, here are the Sun Bets odds offered yesterday on the outcome:
Odds from Sun Bets – get the latest
Hillary Clinton to win – 1/6
Donald Trump to win – 4/1
Hillary wins and has affair with intern – 69/1
Trump wins and declares war on Mexico – 1846/1
As for Clinton, the motto of the Order of the Garter suits her well more so since her loss: “Honi Soit qui Mal y Pense” (Shame on him who evil thinks). That loss signals the heavy lifting Chicanos, Hispanics, and Latinos have to do to make their growing numbers count. Manos a la obra!
Copyright 2016 by Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Scholar in Residence (Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Public Policy), Western New Mexico University; Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English, Texas State University—Sul Ross