You say you’ll change the constitution/Well, you know/We all want to change your head/You tell me it’s the institution/Well, you know/You’d better free your mind instead
– The Beatles
In the days, weeks and months to come after the last ballot is cast in what most right-minded people have described as the Worst. Election. Ever. A lot of ink will be spilled trying to figure out how we got here. How did it come to be that, in a first-world nation of 300 million people, our two major parties chose two of the most unpopular candidates ever to be nominated to be President? And, more to the point, why was one of them Donald Trump?
From this corner of the internet, it seems like all the usual party machinations gave us Hillary Clinton. The cynics will tell you that it was the money and “the corruption.” The reality of it is, Hillary Clinton has spent the last forty years working toward this moment, with varying degrees of accomplishment and success. If you don’t think Hillary Clinton, likable or not, deserves to be standing where she is today, I don’t know what to tell you.
The more alarming case is Donald Trump. The good folks at 538.com are this morning telling us that a majority of Clinton voters are voting for Hillary Clinton, while a majority of Trump voters are not voting for him – but against Hillary Clinton.
There are many takeaways from that: some people just don’t like her and never will. Some people are still suffering from late ’90s Clinton fatigue. Some people are victims of Clinton-era triangulation and free-trade agreements that did unions and the working class no favors. Some are just misogynists who have a very real problem with women, and in particular smart, successful ones who don’t “know their place.”
But one of the even more alarming justifications I’ve heard for voting for Trump, and against Clinton, is that Clinton simply represents elitist Washington D.C.. She is part of a system – no, the system – that needs to be burned to the ground and replaced with… something. And in this case, no matter how racist, misogynist, cruel, and incompetent Donald Trump is, he is somehow the preferred alternative over the system. A vote against Hillary Clinton is a vote against government. Against your constitutional democracy.
That’s legitimately frightening.
So frightening that avowed liberals like Bill Maher are calling for the return of moderates like Mitt Romney. So frightening that conservatives like David Frum are calling for a complete rejection of Trumpism and a return to traditional conservatism of low taxes and small government.
Today I cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton. There are a lot of reasons I did that, and a great many of them have to do with the candidate herself. But my overwhelming impulse was to reject Trumpism’s burn-it-down agenda and the mob’s call to dismantle institutions that have served as a bulwark against demagoguery for two centuries.
A vote for Clinton today is a vote for our Constitutional Democracy. It’s a vote against mob rule, and the flaming garbage fire of bigoted nationalism that Trump has cynically used to fuel his rise back into relevance.
It will be tempting to believe that, tomorrow, the crisis of faith in our institutions will have abated when the demagogue retreats to his gold tower and his new media deals. But it’s not going to work that way. And our ability to stem the tide on the assault against our institutions will depend entirely on good people getting involved and making their voices heard.
Hence, the return of Planet Grafton.