November 9th, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
First of all, it’s always important to remember that elections determine who has the power, not who has the truth. The stunning upset doesn’t mean that the alt-right is correct to view nonwhites as inferior, that voodoo economics works, whatever. And you have to hold to the truth as best you see it, even if it suffers political defeat.
That said, does it make sense on a personal level to keep struggling after this kind of blow? Why not give up on trying to save the world, and just look out for yourself and those close to you? Quietism does have its appeal. Admission: I spent a lot of today listening to music, working out, reading a novel, basically taking a vacation in my head. You can’t help feeling tired and frustrated after this kind of setback.
But eventually one has to go back to standing for what you believe in. It’s going to be a much harder, longer road than I imagined, and maybe it ends in irreversible defeat, if nothing else from runaway climate change. But I couldn’t live with myself if I just gave up. And I hope others will feel the same.
Personally, I think Camus said it best with The Myth Of Sisyphus. That is the most that the Left can ever hope for: to push a boulder up a mountain. We do not ever reach the top. The story is never over. There is no winning. There is only the struggle. In good decades, we move the boulder a bit up the mountain. In bad decades, the boulder rolls down the mountain. And that is it for the Left. It never gets better than that. We all need to brace ourselves to be Sisyphus.
There’s also a vast disillusionment that as of now I think of as the end of the romantic vision of America (which I still love).
What I mean is the notion of US history as a sort of novel in which there may be great tragedy, but there’s always a happy ending. That is, we tell a story in which at times of crisis we always find the leader — Lincoln, FDR — and the moral courage we need.
It’s a particular kind of American exceptionalism; other countries don’t tell that kind of story about themselves. But I, like others, believed it.
Now it doesn’t look very good, does it? But giving up is not an option. The world needs a decent, democratic America, or we’re all lost.