I'm going to do something a bit different on this post. Actually, two somethings different. First, I'm going to use a patient's real name, and without her consent. Before anyone asks, yes I know what I'm doing, and no I've not gone crazy. The second different thing will be that I'll be veering away from medicine, something I've been loathe to do here.
The very keen reader will notice that the previous paragraph doesn't make sense. But like everything I write, it will all (I hope) make sense by the end.
The patient I will discuss is sick. Very sick. Very VERY VERY VERY sick. She's been sick for a long time, and recently she's gotten even sicker. I have been following her for quite some time, though I am not smart enough to fix her. I'm not sure anyone is.
Her name is the United States of America (her real name™).
I'm sure most of you saw that coming the proverbial mile away.
That's right people, I'm going to talk politics on this blog for only the second time (I think). Though I follow international politics (looking at you, Brexit), I tend to avoid talking about it like naturopaths avoid evidence. If you really want to lose a friend, bring up politics. Pick any topic you like. Chances are you'll be A) disagreed with, B) quickly, and C) vehemently. No one can seem to agree on anything.
Except Donald Trump.
Everyone seems to agree that he is a misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, racist asshole. Yet over 60,000,000 people voted for him. Let that sink in for a moment - over sixty million people voted for the Apprentice guy, a man who has never held public office, whose biggest claim to fame is being a "successful" businessman (whose success is measured by not paying taxes because he lost nearly a billion dollars) and reality television star, and who seems to anger every ethnic minority (and many ethnic majorities) by spewing bile and bilge at every turn.
And he was just voted president of the United States of America.
Keep in mind that I have no dog in this fight. This is not my circus, and these are not my monkeys. I am an outsider looking in, but I can faithfully and without reservation say that if this were my circus and if they were my monkeys, I would not have voted for Donald Trump. Not in a million years. It has little to do with the fact that Trump inexplicably still believes that vaccines cause autism (I'm sure you knew that was coming) or that vice president-elect Mike Pence denies evolution and believes god created the universe in exactly six days, but more with the fact that Donald Trump is a misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic, racist asshole (where have we heard that before).
But he won anyway. His win without a doubt reveals one thing with incredible clarity: the United States is dreadfully ill. The fact that such a man could be elected its leader stunned me, but it didn't surprise me (I'll explain). Anyone who didn't see this coming doesn't follow American politics or its international effects.
Racism and hate in the United States was supposed to be solved by its first black president. Barack Obama was supposed to fix it with hope and change. Racism was to be relegated to history books. Not only has that not happened, but the racial divide has actually deepened (from my perspective). This has been highlighted by the numerous protests, change.org petitions, "NOT MY PRESIDENT" chants, tweets, blog posts, and newspaper articles about how horrible Trump is, how horrible his presidency will be, how he will be impeached, how they wish he will be a terrible president, and how Hillary Clinton should still be elected despite losing. THAT IS NOT HELPING.
Over three million people have signed this petition (EDIT: now nearly 4 million) calling on the Electoral College to elect Clinton rather than Trump because Clinton received more popular votes. While it may seem like that should seem to be a win, the American electoral process is not designed that way, and it has not been set up since its inception. Just like George W. Bush in 2000 and 3 other US elections, Trump received more electoral votes, and he is therefore the winner.
Any argument about the Electoral College being obsolete and needing to be overhauled or abolished is irrelevant at this point after the fact. That would be akin to demanding at the end of a football match that the game be extended by 10 extra minutes because your team hasn't scored yet. You may not change the rules after the fact. THAT IS NOT HELPING.
This election is and always was about a broken country. The people wanted a change, and they got it, most probably more than they bargained for. But the chanting, marching, complaining, whining, and backlash is not helping. The anti-Trumpers who are protesting are feeding into exactly the same division that allowed Trump to be elected in the first place. They are driving a wedge between them and the pro-Trump crowd, widening the rift, and IT IS NOT HELPING.
And this isn't just about black versus white. It isn't just about men versus women. It isn't just about poor versus rich. It is fully half the country versus the other half. Believe it or not, Trump had black, female, young, gay, Hispanic and wealthy supporters, and Clinton had white, male, old, straight, and poor supporters. Looking at the numbers broken down it is clear that there were certain dividing lines along which folks tended to vote, but there was no group that voted 100% for either candidate. Somehow despite what Trump has said about women, he still had the support of 42% of them, and despite what he said about Mexicans, 29% of Hispanics voted for Trump. To me, that speaks volumes. If it does not speak volumes to you, then you do not understand the problem and ARE NOT HELPING.
Lumping in all Trump supporters as racist, misogynistic, half-breed idiots is exactly the thing that you were fighting against when Trump claimed that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists. It's the exact same thing you were fighting against when Trump endorsed closing the US borders to Muslim immigrants. You are generalising while fighting generalisations. THAT IS NOT HELPING.
Worse still, a New York Times book review on Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939 published about 6 weeks ago made absolutely no effort to conceal a thinly veiled comparison of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. A teacher was suspended this past week for comparing Trump to Hitler. There are other articles all over the internet making the same comparison. As much as I disagree with Trump's philosophy, I find the comparison to one of the planet's most reviled humans in history absolutely revolting. Again, I do not agree with Trump, but the comparison is disgusting and IS NOT HELPING.
This is the same situation that Obama has been in for the past 8 years as I have heard claim after claim that he is the next Fidel Castro and would destroy the United States by leading it into communism. This has obviously not happened as the United States is just fine and is still (last I checked) a democracy.
I am not saying that capitulation is the right move. I am not saying that you should give in or give up. If you want to change the system, then fight to change the system. If you want your candidate in office, fight for it. But fight for it NEXT TIME. Fight for a candidate you believe in, whose policies you endorse, and get that person elected. NEXT TIME. But fighting it after the fact because you don't like the result is denying the democratic wish of half the country and IS NOT HELPING.
If you want to wait for Trump to screw something up so royally that he gets impeached or is forced to resign, fine. Do I think that will happen? No I do not. Wishing that it would happen is only wishing ill on the entire country, and THAT IS NOT HELPING.
I will take a moment here to repeat that I support neither Donald Trump nor the vast majority of what he has said and done throughout his campaign. That said, I also would not have supported Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein for various (and altogether different) reasons. Hell, I would have voted "DocBastard 2016" if given the opportunity, and I guaran-damn-tee you I would have made a better president than ANY of these goddamned clowns.
Regardless, the people of the United States need to take a good look in the mirror, take a deep breath, and figure out how exactly they want to proceed, and how they want the next 4 years of their lives to shape up. Fighting and whining and complaining and protesting will not solve anything, it will only make things worse and guarantee a 2020 win for Trump.
As usual, I don't have all the answers. Hell, I don't even know if I have any answer. Except perhaps this one: