Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
My recent post, “Devastated By The American Presidential Election,” evoked the expression of similar sentiments from friends and readers. Some particularly insightful comments on the topic were shared by my friend Chris Crawford. Chris, who runs the website Erasmatazz, is a highly successful computer game designer, polymath, seer, and overall smart guy—he has a master’s degree in physics and that’s a hard one to earn! I highly encourage you to visit his site for great material about computer game design and politics, and for moving personal blog posts. (The blog is named after Erasmus (1466 – 1536), the Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian. That any non-philosophy major would know of him is itself impressive.)
Here is his correspondence in full:
I too have been struggling with my reaction to the election. My wife’s reaction was the same as mine, with the volume turned way up. She is furious; she is terrified; her attitude is now “America can go to hell!”
So what exactly is it that is so devastating about this election? I see it terms of four factors. In order of increasing importance, they are:
First, the defeat of Ms. Clinton. We were so excited that, at long last, we’d have a woman President. And not just that: probably the best-prepared candidate in a long time. This woman has magnificent credentials for running the country. She would certainly have been one of our finest Presidents.
Second, the idiocy of some in the left for turning their backs on her because she wasn’t liberal enough. Couldn’t those idiots see that she was the only person standing between Mr. Trump and the White House? How could they be so STUPID?!?!
Third is the election of Mr. Trump. If Ms. Clinton had been beaten by, say, Marco Rubio, I would have been intensely disappointed, but I would not have been devastated. The American system could survive another George Bush II, perhaps with an acceptable loss in blood, treasure, and prestige. But Mr. Trump will be a catastrophically bad President. I don’t need to articulate his disastrous lack of knowledge, intelligence, or temperament — we all know that. His Presidency will cement the downward spiral of America, ending all hope of the country maintaining to its position as leader of the free world.
But the fourth, and truly devastating factor for me is what this election reveals about the American voter. I now realize that a controlling portion of the citizenry is racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-rational, intolerant, shamefully naive, gullible, bereft of ethical standards, nationalistic, and antagonistic towards the ideals that have constituted the very soul of the American experiment. The nation that even an globalist like me admired for its ideals has been thrown aside by a wave of ugly, vicious fascists. I recall in my youth reading a pundit who observed that when fascism came to America, it wouldn’t be with swastikas, Brownshirts, and goose-stepping soldiers; it would wrap itself in the flag, mother, and apple pie — which is precisely what has happened. Perhaps we have begun a downward spiral to fascism.
The good news is that I really don’t think we’ll end up with a fascist state. Yes, the people who voted for Trump want that, but remember, they are still a minority; more Americans voted for Ms. Clinton than for Mr. Trump. My expectation is that two personas of America are no longer compatible. The ignorant rubes who hate gays, Mexicans, Muslims, and intellectuals, and who think that a woman’s place is barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen will never go away, but the Americans who still believe in tolerance and justice for all remain a powerful force. The two sides are now too far apart to be able to find any middle ground for compromise. The conflict between them will only grow more intense with the years, until ultimately the hotheads on both sides start the violence, at which point a divorce between the two sides will be the only option. I hope that Americans find the decency to carry out that divorce with a minimum of violence, but I fear that the fascists among us will not readily give up their power over the economically more productive half of the nation. The dissolution of the USA is now inevitable. That is what terrifies me.
I thank the time Chris took to craft these thoughts. Again his is a voice worth listening to. A man with a nimble and analytical mind, unlike so many of the ignorant pundits who occupy the airwaves.