Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cassandra without portfolio

Well, the chipper feeling of that last post didn't last long.

I didn't see this coming, did you? In academia, we knew it couldn't happen because the candidate was racist, sexist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, crude, a liar, etc. etc. etc. plus not being able put any plans or logic together, and everyone must hate this and see what we did. Right? Right?

But I feared it. Looking back there were some little nagging things, like something you catch out of the corner of your eye, weren't there?  Like the guy who predicted all the elections correctly?

Back in the mid-NAFTA-1990s, I went around asking, "But if all the jobs and factories go abroad, who's going to have living wage jobs to buy all the junk we will now be able to buy so cheaply?" (something I also asked on the blog) and was told "Shut up! Knowledge economy! Jobs for everyone! Don't worry about it!" which sort of worked a little bit for some people in the tech boom and then not so much because of a lot of corporate reasons involving outsourcing jobs and moving their corporate headquarters abroad. Same with the 2008 housing collapse: the lending principles didn't add up, but I figured that it was my stupidity and not their mendacity.

One day I came into the room and told Spouse, "I'm worried, because you-know-who is talking about job loss and H1B visas and the Democrats aren't doing that as much." But then with every revelation about his prejudices and actions, the pundits would say x group certainly won't vote for him now (evangelicals, women, etc.) because it would offend their moral sensibilities and I would think, they absolutely do not care, regardless of what they say they value. Yes, I saw the charts, and yes, I know that higher-income voters voted for him and that too many white women did, too.  It was horrible but true what he said about being able to shoot someone down in cold blood and still people would vote for him.

And then Hillbilly Elegy, along with all those economic hopelessness articles in WaPo, became part of an economic conversation about rural areas that we were not having, or not having enough of, in the academic vortex of Twitter. Michael Moore called it (as 
xykademiqz told us today)  and so did David Wong, who basically says that our president-elect is a brick thrown through our windows of privilege.  [Edited to add: Matt Taibbi has an analysis at Rolling Stone and Elizabeth Drew at The New York Review of Books.]

Now we who were with Her are left in the aftermath of the election trying to take meaningful action in this country* and maybe to think about what Ethan Coen said in his satirical "thank you notes" in the NY Times: 
6. All our media friends. Thank you for preserving reportorial balance. You balanced Donald Trump’s proposal that the military execute the innocent families of terrorists, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced pot-stirring racist lies about President Obama’s birth, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced a religious test at our borders, torture by our military, jokes about assassination, unfounded claims of a rigged election, boasts about groping and paradoxical threats to sue anyone who confirmed the boasts, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced endorsement of nuclear proliferation, against Hillary’s emails. You balanced tirelessly, indefatigably; you balanced, you balanced, and then you balanced some more. And for that — we thank you. And thank you all for following Les Moonves’s principled lead when he said Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damn good for CBS.”

And the Republicans? They got their whole wish list--President, House, Senate--but I can only imagine that they are now like the couple at the end of The Graduate, wondering what they've gotten themselves into.

* Here's a pro tip for those who have dramatically exclaimed that they'll move to Canada: It is very, very hard to immigrate to Canada as a U. S. citizen, unless you already have dual Canadian or British citizenship: you'll need a job offer in a field that they don't have enough of (spoiler alert: humanities grads--they've got 'em!), then a path to landed immigrant status (hard to get, and you have to be there 5 years before even being considered for citizenship), then money for lawyers, and so on. If you have bad vision, health problems, age problems (as in being over 45), they want to know about that, too, and not in a "we'd like to take care of you!" way, either. Yes, they want to see a recent set of chest x-rays, too, or used to.

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