The Bomb

“I know a lot of liberal, college-educated, intelligent people who voted for Trump,” said a visiting friend last week. (paraphrase)

“They call him The Bomb.”

I knew just what she was talking about. I’ve been thinking something similar.

The question is, will it have been worth it?

In 2000, Ralph Nader, when asked how he would feel if his candidacy resulted in a win for George Bush, responded: A bumbling Texas governor would galvanize the environmental community as never before,'' he said. ''The Sierra Club doubled its membership under James Watt.

I hadn’t liked Ralph Nader before that statement, but that one sealed the deal for me. I became, in parlance that had yet to be invented, a Never Nader.

And yet.

Would there have been a Women’s March rejoicing at the election of Hillary Clinton in the numbers and with the fierce determination of that which rejected the ascendancy of Donald Trump? Would so many people have flocked to so many banners proclaiming The Resistance? Would there have ensued so many, so horrifyingly many occasions on which the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic underbelly of the nation’s perpetually unacknowledged could make their voices heard?

How much longer could we have pretended that they didn’t exist or, if they did, that we need pay them no nevermind.

Yes, Hillary Clinton’s presidency would have been a feather in the cap for all women, a mighty blow to the assumption that a woman could not lead the most powerful nation in the history of humankind. And then ……..?

And then she would have faced a Republican Congress, who would continue Mitch McConnell’s promise from 2008 – to make her fail. Perhaps the only mark she would have been able to make so far would have been to veto the tax bill. Her policies would have been a continuance of the Obama era, but without a Democratic Congress to get at least one thing done in the first year, no improvements could have been made.

She could be an effective President, given a cooperative Congress, but she could not and would not have been an inspiring one in the way that Obama could be, even in the face of ostensible failure. With the McConnell/Ryan panzer attacks against her, I can’t see one single legislative victory she would have been able to call her own.

Where would we be today, without The Bomb?

Would so many women be running for office? Would we be here, surf boards at the ready, expecting that Big Blue Wave?

And yet …

Would children have been forcibly separated from their parents at the border?
Would Unite the Right have felt empowered to gather in Charlottesville?
Would fewer people have died in Puerto Rico?
Would the Supreme Court be in danger of rescinding rights for gays and women?
Would the Environmental Protection Agency have begun to dismantle so many regulations on air and water quality?
Would the investigation into the poisoning of Flint, MI water have been cancelled?
Would we feel so alone in the world?

It has been said an attack on their home soil brings a nation together as nothing else could. In the United States today, a great number of us feel we have been attacked from within by an adversary whose existence we have negated for too long. An adversary who had been, in turn, energized by the election of a man many of them considered anathema.

I voted for Hillary Clinton because I liked her, even though I knew she was unlikely to have many successes with the Congress she would have inherited. I would not have voted for The Bomb, even if I had been able to foresee the outcome. I would not have been able to reconcile myself to the collateral damages.

Even so, I cannot but be re-energized myself as the country hurtles towards an historical vote on November 6th. The political conversation has been impassioned, the interest in points of constitutional law has been very nearly unprecedented (to overuse a term), and the determination to take our country in hand seems to be in the very air we breathe.

The Bomb won’t be entirely defused by this election, even should we prevail. The collateral damage is still there in the persons of disaster survivors, traumatized children, and victims of re-poisoned air and water that is certain to affect us through the lack of regulation.

Was it worth it? Without it, we would likely have gone along with same-o, same-o. Hillary Clinton would have given State of the Union speeches asking for spending on infrastructure and education and better health care and climate change. A Republican Congress would have ignored her. The country would likely have blamed her.

And yet …