I just saw a video in which a young hipster is shown unable to hold back tears. From the looks of it, it’s not clear whether her skinny jeans were too tight or someone had left a hurtful comment on her latest selfie. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear she’s in a group of mournful people. It was the election night
party funeral for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
I’m not a sadist — I don’t enjoy watching other people suffer, but after Donald Trump pulled off a shocking upset in the 2016 election, it’s hard to avoid. Everywhere one turns on social media, there are pictures of crying social justice warriors or furious burnout Boomers. Suffice it to say that millions of people are not happy about the election results. They’re sad that their candidate lost, but many people are frightened the other guy won:
“I’m scared and terrified.”
“This is devastating”
“Guys, I’m so stressed, I’ve almost completely rubbed off my eyebrow definer.”
Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Cher were all in tears.
And some poor girl was doubled over in a mess of mucus and saline lamenting her suicidal state screeching, “This has to be a joke. I do not believe this is happening. I’m literally about to f**king kill myself and I’m not f**king kidding.”
A blogger explained why “we grieve today” and it was alarming. It wasn’t about an election to him — it was about a way of life coming to an abrupt end. “We wake up today in a home we no longer recognize. We are grieving the loss of a place we used to love but no longer do. This may be America today but it is not the America we believe in or recognize or want.”
But why so much anguish and despair a few hours after so much joy and optimism? America was, for all intents and purposes, the exact same on November 9th, 2016 as it was November 7th — composed of the same people, same economy, and same history. Yet, suddenly it was hell on Earth.
I submit that these heartbroken Hillary supporters were victims, but not of the racist, misogynistic right. They were victims of their own doing. These tender souls had put so much stock into government and their presumed leader that it had become unhealthy — and potentially self-destructive.
It starts with a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of government. To them, government isn’t simply a protector of limited natural rights, government is the singular source of roads, space travel, NPR, universal health care, and most recently, validation of their psychological identity. And if all that happens to come with heavy taxation and unnecessary wars, so be it. To this special population, everything mystically runs through the state and thus the state is everything—it almost becomes a materialist religion. These supporters are typically atheist, so government filling that void is natural, but ironically, to these folks who demand the separation of church and state, the state has become their church.
And every church needs a god, or in this case, a goddess. These faithful had bought into partisan dualism to such an extent that they made one human being out to be the devil of hell in their minds and simultaneously glossed over the many flaws of their candidate. But more than glossing over flaws, they made her an embodiment of all they hold sacred. Just as they did with Obama eight years before, they made Hillary into a type of political goddess — a sort of high priestess in pantsuits, incapable of any wrongdoing. Hillary Clinton is not a goddess; she is just a person, and as Wikileaks has shown us recently, not a very good one at that.
Donald J. Trump isn’t a god either and those make him out to be one are just as fallacious. But while Trump supporters may erroneously think Trump is God’s gift to the world, they would never make the mistake of confusing Trump for being God. That role is already filled with the Christian God, for the vast majority of Trump supporters. But, the real problem for Hillary supporters is a collection of people who are witnessing the devil take over their religion and I can’t imagine the anguish that would produce.
My advice for all those grieving, then, is simple: find a new religion, preferably one that doesn’t involve widespread Ponzi schemes or indiscriminate drone bombing. Government makes for a horrible religion and the more faith you have in it, the more you’re going to be heartbroken. As my friend Travis Rinn wrote, “If you think we’re just one presidential election away from all hell breaking loose, then maybe the problem isn’t a particular president, the electorate, or the electoral process. Maybe it’s the power that has been granted to the office itself.” The presidency simply wasn’t designed to be the fulfillment of millions of people’s personal identity. I mean can you imagine a nation full of twenty-somethings weeping uncontrollably at the thought of Millard Fillmore losing to Franklin Pierce in 1852? I can’t. Government wasn’t a religion back then.
I don’t condemn people for getting excited about causes or trying to change the world in a positive way, but I do suggest that if you’re going to stake your identity on something or someone, make sure it isn’t subject to a majority vote.
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