I Would Love to Share in Your Incredulity by Thomas S. Harrington

March against Trump, New York City

Image by mathiaswasik via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

by Thomas S. Harrington
Common Dreams, Nov. 10, 2016
November 13, 2016

I would love to share, my liberal friend, in your sense of incredulity about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of United States. I would love to stand with you in the sense of woundedness that, while certainly painful up front, carries with it the secondary compensation of a warm and nurturing solidarity. I would love to sit with you and fulminate in righteous anger about the unparalleled vulgarity and cruelty of Trump and his followers.

As much as I’d like to do these things, I won’t.  Why?

Because I know you, perhaps better than you even dare to know yourself. I know you well because I have watched you with great and detailed care over the last three decades and have learned, sadly, that you are as much if not more about image and self-regard as any of the laudable values you claim to represent.

I have watched as you accommodated yourself to most of the retrograde social forces you claim to abhor.  I have seen you be almost completely silent before the world’s greatest evil, unprovoked war, going so far as to embrace as your presidential candidate this year a person who cold-bloodedly carried out the complete destruction of Libya, a real country with real people who love their children like you and me, in order—as the Podesta emails make clear—to further her personal political ambitions.

I watched as you stood silent before this same person’s perverse on-camera celebration of the murder by way of a bayonet thrust to the anus of the leader of that once sovereign country, and before the tens of thousand of deaths,  and hundreds of thousands of refugees, that  war provoked.

I watched during the last eight years as you sought refuge in the evanescent qualities of skin color and smooth speechmaking so as to not to confront the fact that your “liberal” president was almost totally lacking in actionable convictions regarding the values you claim to be about.

I watched as you didn’t say a peep as he bailed out bankers, pursued whistleblowers and deported desperate and downtrodden immigrants in heretofore unimaginable numbers.

And I didn’t hear the slightest complaint (unlike those supposedly stupid and primitive libertarians) as he arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens in cold blood as he and he alone deemed fit.

I monitored you as you not only completely normalized Israel’s methodical erasure of the Palestinian people and their culture, but made cheering enthusiastically for this campaign of savagery the ultimate litmus test for social and political respectability within your ranks.

I watched as you breezily dispatched the memories of the millions of innocent people destroyed by U.S. military aggression around the world and damaged police brutality here at home in order to slavishly imitate the unceasing orgy of uniform worship set in motion by the right and its media auxiliaries in the wake of  September 11th, 2001.

In short, since 1992, I have watched as you have transformed a current of social thought once rooted in that most basic an necessary human sentiment—empathy—into a badge of cultural and educational superiority.  And because feeling good about yourself was much more important to you than actually helping the afflicted, you signed off, in greater or lesser measure to almost all of the life-sapping and dignity-robbing measures of the authoritarian right.

And now you want me to share in your sense of shock and incredulity?

No, thanks, I’ll save my tears for all of the people, ideas and programs you heedlessly abandoned along the road  to this day.


Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently published book, Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

from the archives:

Chris Hedges: The Liberals Gave Us Trump–What Will a Trump Presidency Be Like?

Chris Hedges: Trump Will Crush Dissent With Even Greater Violence and Savagery (#NDAA) + Hedges: The Surrender of the Left to Neoliberalism Gave Us Proto-fascism

Ralph Nader: The Biggest Divide And Rule Tactic Is The Constant Drumbeat That We Are Highly Polarized

Abby Martin: John Podesta Exposed

John Pilger: Hillary Clinton May Well Turn Out To Be One Of The More Dangerous Presidents

The U.S. National Bird Is Now a Killer Drone by David Swanson

Abby Martin: The Demolition of Palestinian Homes for Israeli Settlements Reached a 10-year High in 2016

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28 thoughts on “I Would Love to Share in Your Incredulity by Thomas S. Harrington

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  8. I think the US needs a completely New Constitution fit for a totally re-conceptualized ‘new world’ ~ with a radical redefinition of security, and a thoroughly effective & practical Charter of Universal Entitlement; including the ecological rights of other species ~ even planetary ecosystems!

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  10. Well, obviously as an American I virulently disagree with the author’s underlying sociopolitical positions, but I can’t find fault with his general opinion of what are called Liberals and Progressives.

      • Yes, it has been a long time and I’m doing as well as can be expected, given the odd times were in – a little better since the 8th, though that will change somewhat when people realize Trump isn’t all either side thinks he is. ;-)

        Not to put too fine a point upon it though, but I believe the campaigns, election, and the post-election responses make the answer as to whether or not an American would disagree with the author’s sociopolitical positions quite clearly. As to whether or not Americans are the only one’s who do so? I don’t know really.

        • @Matty

          To my mind there’s more to being an American, if we speak outside the context of pure legalism, than just where your born. Loyalty to- and being an actual part of the historically normative culture is also required.

          @Dandelionsalad

          Yes, after much research, soul searching, and with a grimace I voted for Trump. Johnson wasn’t going to get enough votes to make any difference, i.e., reach the plateau where the Libertarians would become a “real” political party. And, by way of disclosure, as a Republican living in NYC that was a harder choice for me than others because, my vote being meaningless, I had more real choice in what I was doing.

          As for supporting trump and why – so many snarky but not utterly untrue answers come to mind but I’m trying hard not to be poor winner or just troll the other side. ;-) Yeah, given both the circumstances and my own proclivities, that’s not too easy…but I’m trying so the things about Trump that resonated with me (Supporting him might be an exaggeration):

          Despite how the Left will see this as counter-intuitive, I see him, based upon a lot of his rhetoric, to be less likely to get us in another, significant war than Hillary would. If nothing else, he doesn’t seem to have a knee-jerk reaction again Russia, something the Left suddenly gained when they stopped being Communist. On that front, he also isn’t sanguine about the status quo in NATO or America being the troops for the world. Hehe…Frankly, I just don’t see him as being interested in “humanitarian interventions.”

          I really like – prima facie, at least – his plans for reducing the size and scope of the federal government, most especially the various branches of the Executive which at this point have created many more “extra-legislative laws” than the Legislative branch has created actual laws. This opinion, I hope obviously, may change once the cutting starts and the details come out as I’m not a Libertarian and am not against all regulation that comes from the federal level.

          Mostly though, if one can say that I “supported” Trump primarily for a reason it would be that he is just the metaphorical backhand to the face of the race-, gender-, and sexuality-baiters that this nation needed. It was past time to rock them back on their heels and maybe, just maybe, make them rethink their positions and tactics.

          Really though, my vote had more to do with him not being Hillary or any other Democrat. Hell! Even the Dems I actually voted (more than you might think at the state and local levels) for I voted for them in the checkbox for another party than ran under.

  11. In some sense, I am not really surprised Trump won. He promised revenge for the affront of Obama, and that brought clenching turnout in MI, PA ad OH. I don’t really believe that elections are won by persuading undecided voters, they are won through voter morale. I knew Trump had it, but I thought Clinton had enough too.

  12. Well said. That is just a short list. You forgot NAZIs in the Ukraine, cannibal head chopping terrorists in Syria, the coup in Honduras, the war in Yemen, organ harvesters in Kosovo(thanks to Bill Clinton) and I’m sure much more.

  13. love it – Neo Liberalism from 92 crushed by the Angel of death and the voters fed up with bad trade deals from Macbeth .

    as I said 8 years ago and up until the day of the election – Hillary Clinton will never be president . she did not stand a chance .

    incredulity comes from not paying attention to a paradigm shift . and now comes the blame game – Wiki leaks , FBI, Russians , etc .

    Drunks are always in denial .

    • Hard words Rocket, but true. Power is an intoxicating and lethal brew.

      I agree with the tragic irony of this post. We must lay in any bed of our own making. I am not American, but my grand-children are. So I shall not be walking away, but neither am I whistling a happy tune.

      The very best things US citizens with a conscience can do is to boycott b-s, sanction smugness and divest from cruelty.

      Listen to Nader!

    • Glad you enjoyed it, too, Guadamour. I read this a few days ago and was pleased to see that it has a Creative Commons/Share Alike license on it for republishing from Common Dreams. It was the best article I’ve read in the last week about the election.

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