In which a real American explains the election to Australians

[Note: I wrote and submitted this essay on Nov. 12, which explains why it is, even for an essay by me, unusually obnoxious. Read at your own peril.]

When The Catholic Weekly hired me a few years ago, they made a few things clear: We’re really Catholic; we’re not terribly uptight; we spell things weird sometimes; and most of all, we do not want to hear about American politics. All of this was fine with me, especially that last part. Even in those innocent days of 2016, American politics was already just about intolerable, and I didn’t want to hear about it, either.

But here we are in 2020, and I’m getting a steady stream of Australian friends and readers helpfully giving me the inside scoop about what goes on in these United States. So either you’re all a bunch of masochists deliberately exposing yourself to our political system as some kind of elaborate form of penance, or else there is some part of you that can’t look away.

So be it. I will indulge your unholy fascination with this ominously pulsating egg sac we’re calling an election season. You want to hear about American politics? Hold onto your butts.

The short version is, Trump repeatedly promised his followers that, if they elected him, they would get tired of winning. And so it has come to pass! They are so tired of winning that they, in fact, lost.

Really, that is what happened. I know it hurts some of you to hear this, for some reason, but he lost. Lllllllooooosssssssttttt, lost, lah-lah-lah-lost, L.O.S.T., as in “lost the election,” as in “did not win the election,” as in “failed to secure victory in the election,” as in “you can take those ridiculous flappy flags off your boat now, you weirdo.” He lost because, even though a shamefully high number of people did vote for him, one cannot win an election simply by being shameful. No, not even with the help of the [haunted house music] electoral college.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly

Image: by Jericho on Deviant Art Creative Commons


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36 thoughts on “In which a real American explains the election to Australians”

  1. It’s interesting that the “f*** your feelings” crowd now thinks that Trump’s attack democracy is trivial compared to their feelings.

    1. Exactly. For people who repeatedly told me that my grief in 2016 was stupid and covered with icky girl cooties, this bunch sure has fragile feelings about their loss.

    2. Ms Charlotte:
      Its not feelings. Its about reason and experience. Pres. Obama recently complained about lost voters in Florida. Guess what Cubans & Venezuelans in Fl. know about repression? Consider our constitutional rights. What else could covid check points in NY be for? I grew up around a check point. Regular people died going to the store where I grew up. Or were raped. What sense do curfews make against illness? How would anyone know with surety about Thanksgiving being the source of a disease vs. a gas pump? Now, I did not support Trump in 2016, I am a pretty skeptic person. I am alarmed at the things that are not in the news. If election records are clean, why destroy them? If Dominion didn’t do anything, why not testify? If people who take vaccine are immune why restrict the rest? It is true that ultimately we must look to our heavenly home. However, Freedom requires valor. It may be that God needs to show us in a clearer indisputable sign. I fear you Holy Trinity, but I pray to be ready.

  2. I did not vote for Trump in 2016. I really, really wanted to vote against Clinton in a way that would actually matter, but I couldn’t vote for Trump. Although, I have to say that when he ended up winning there was a certain amount of (not virtuous) schadenfreude. Left leaning people had been so obnoxious, so demeaning, so ridiculous in their accusations against anyone who didn’t share all their beliefs. It did feel good to see their hopes dashed. So I get where this screed is coming from, I do.
    But what really annoys me – from DAY ONE of Trump’s presidency, I heard people telling anyone who disliked Trump but voted for him for whatever reason, that they better get out there and immediately denounce EVERY problematic thing he did, because they were responsible. No time to celebrate. Just get to work. It’s such a joke how hypocritical it all is- if those who voted for Trump are responsible for his defects and need to call him out immediately, why aren’t these same people calling out Biden? Because they’re not. They’re celebrating him! I truly hope there aren’t serious Catholics who don’t see anything problematic with Biden/Harris, but from the gushing posts about how wonderful they are, I think there are.
    Also – it is so absurd to see people who from DAY ONE of Trump’s presidency refused to acknowledge him as legitimate (not my president), and sought to impeach him with anything that might have a chance sticking. That happened! It continued his ENTIRE presidency! So please stop clutching your pearls.
    I am well aware of the problems with Trump. I’ve been hearing about nothing else for the past four years. I don’t know why I’m still surprised by it, but the hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    1. Oh get over it. McConnell did exactly the same thing to Obama. Trump could have tried to win over his opponents but we got four years of ‘fuck your feelings’ and being told we’re the Devil incarnate. I opposed Trump’s policies because they were universally and uniformly dreadful. That’s what political opponents do. Instead of accepting that people who voted against him didn’t like him or roll over for him, Trump spent four years in the whiniest toddler fit ever thrown by an elected official. Two of those years, by the way, he had unified control of Congress under the Republican Party. Trump also could have taken advice from another, better occupant of the Oval Office and learned that ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ Instead, he whined. He will be remembered as either a filthy aberration or as the destroyer of the United States. He will not be missed.

  3. I actually am a bit frustrated and angry with the Catholic Trump voters, to be honest. They have done so much damage to the pro-life movement and the church by associating with the most corrupt president ever. Not to mention the damage Trump has done to the rule of law, our democratic institutions, the constitution, and our reputation overseas. And look — we still have abortion! I always say that they would vote for satan himself if said he was pro-life. Trump supporters have lost credibility. If any one is offended by these words, they could go read over Trump’s Twitter account for comfort.

    1. Jennifer Ward, I honestly don’t see what you’re evidently seeing on the topic of “the damage Trump has done to the rule of law, our democratic institutions, [&] the constitution…”. But I’m really curious about why you think that. Would you be willing to help me understand one of those faults? Sources would help.
      And Simcha, if this isn’t something you want in your com box, you have every right to delete my/this comment, of course. I’m not trying to cause trouble; I really do want to understand how other people think.

      1. Hi Margo, I really appreciate your sincere question. I first brushed it off because, frankly, Trump is history and it doesn’t matter what you or I think of him. It only matters now that he follows 250 years of American precedent and commits to a peaceful transfer of power — we’ll see about that. I kept thinking about your question though. I don’t know you at all, but I know alot of other people – people I have been close to who apparently have not understood the real threat that Donald Trump has brought to this country. I am not talking about his personality or any policy issues that I may agree or disagree with. I could take a bunch of time to try to link you up with some articles or try to explain it myself, but again, it does’t really matter now and if you are truly curious there is some excellent journalism out there — about five years of it — that can explain it much better than I. What I would say to you and others who have similar questions is that you should challenge yourself as a Christian American voter to be more aware. It is truly hard for me to comprehend how people have missed the hurricane that is Trump and cannot see all the damage he has wrought. Anyway, going forward, broaden your sources of information. Read more articles and newspapers. Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and read it online. Read opinions written by experts in their fields – and a variety of them. Read things that challenge what you think you know or believe. That is all. I don’t think I am capable of giving you the full presentation of the past four Trump years, but I hope that going forward you will be able to answer these questions for yourself. God Bless.

        1. Jennifer W, thanks for your kind comment. I realized later that I was making a pretty big ask for a comment box! Still, I wish we could have a 1:1. Mostly because it’s not clear to me which journalists to trust anymore. I do, however, see the wisdom of reading a large variety of journalists, so as to notice each one’s bias better, and get a more rounded view of the basic facts, and why various biases exist.
          Again, thanks for your kind reply! 🙂

  4. This post comes across so nasty and un-Christ like, it makes me sad. I get it. You dislike Trump. You really, really dislike him. You are really, really glad he lost the election. You seem to have the impression that those who supported him and hoped he would win are worthy to be the target of your contempt. That “weirdo” who had the audacity to fly a Trump flag on his boat? Absolutely deserves your sharp tongue and your bullish name calling. His crime? He thinks a different way that you do —- which obviously makes him wrong. Did you ever stop to consider that those who hoped Trump would win (dare I say, still hope he will win? Cue the name calling!) are upset and worried what a Biden Harris administration may mean for the future of the country? That they are genuinely saddened that things didn’t work out as they had hoped? Is there no compassion for those who find themselves not celebrating the result of this election? I guess if the person I had voted for had won, I wouldn’t feel the need to “rub it in the face” of those who had hoped for a different outcome. Do you ever stop to consider why you are seemingly incapable of showing a little Christian kindness to those who are not celebrating this? I wonder, if I could borrow the much overused yet very valid question, What Would Jesus Do in your place? Something tells me He probably wouldn’t have written what you wrote. .It might be worth a little reflection (and prayer) on the reasons behind your sarcastic, mean-spirited words …

    1. She’s not trying to rub it in anyone’s face. She’s frustrated that he’s dragging this out, grasping at straws, instead of conceding. It would be one thing to request a recount in a close state like Georgia, or initially pursue suspicions of voter fraud. But once it became obvious that there’s nowhere near enough, if any, to change the outcome of the election, he should have refrained from turning this into a three ring circus in the middle of a raging pandemic. I voted for Trump, although I wouldn’t call myself a supporter. I voted for him because I too have concerns about Biden in areas like abortion and religious freedom. But I have plenty of concerns about Trump too, particularly about how he has handled the pandemic. It’s a good thing I mailed in my ballot before he started hosting super spreader events and downplaying the virus after he was blessed enough to recover from it. In any case, all humor aside, this could have serious repercussions. Some of his more radical supporters are threatening civil war, and he’s doing nothing to discourage them.

        1. Oh, I get it. “My boat that sank”. Well, since my candidate didn’t win. Yeah, I guess it was. Thanks for proving my point about your nastiness 😊

        2. Oh, I get it. Well, since my candidate didn’t win. Yeah, I guess my boat did sink. Nothing like finding pleasure in someone else’s disappointment, huh?

          1. No, I meant your literal boat.

            Listen, some things are worthy of disappointment. When an arsonist is thwarted by the fire station, he feels disappointment. Other may reasonably be glad that he was disappointed, because arson is bad. That’s where we’re at.

            1. Yeah, well I guess that depends on one’s point of view. You see, in my mind, Trump is not the arson. The hair smelling pedophile that will bend any way the political wind blows and is most likely deep in the throes of early (?) onset dementia is the arsonist. If roles were reversed, and Biden lost, I still wouldn’t take pleasure in your disappointment. I would be glad for my win but wouldn’t bask in your loss. Because when someone is disappointed or let down it’s not a nice feeling. And taking pleasure in that makes you not a nice person.

              1. What if I said supporting a racist misogynist makes you not a nice person? Trump lost, deal with it 🙄 .
                The biggest gripe that you pro trump Catholics have with Biden is that his administration is in support of abortion, which is a bad thing, no argument there. Yet it should be common knowledge by now that it doesn’t matter who is in the White House because the only way we’re going to change abortion laws is to change people’s hearts on the issue, and there was no way in heck Trump was going to be the one to do that, what with his racist rhetoric and overall mean spirited and immature behavior. I don’t care if you feel bad that he lost. As a black woman, I feel much safer knowing he is no longer in office.

                1. Uh, where did I say my “biggest gripe” with Biden was his pro-choice stance? Or, for that matter, even that I am Catholic? As far as you not feeling bad if I feel bad that he lost. That’s fine. I don’t expect anyone to feel bad for me. But there is a difference between not feeling bad for someone’s disappointment and actually deriving some sort of satisfaction from it.

              2. I don’t understand why you think she’s taking pleasure in the disappointment of Trump supporters. The main point of her post is that Trump lost, something he has yet to admit. That doesn’t mean she’s reveling in his supporters’ disappointment. I for one do feel bad for his supporters (not the ones who want to take up arms, but the ones who genuinely believed in him and have valid concerns about Biden. Although I think it’s a bit much to characterize him as a pedophile or declare that he’s suffering from dementia, as it wouldn’t be too far fetched to accuse Trump of the same). I would probably even feel bad for Trump himself, if he weren’t thwarting the democratic process and playing golf without even a mention of the raging virus which is overwhelming hospitals and resulting in refrigerated trucks being used to store surplus dead bodies.

                1. Claire, are you sure that President Trump is pursuing recounts simply to try to prove that he won the election? As I see it, he is pursuing recounts where there is a question of integrity so that *all of us* can trust our election process now and in the future. He’s still the President, and it is his job to look out for the integrity of things that affect the common good. Are you willing to consider that perhaps he’s just doing part of his job?
                  Also, it’s not clear to me that he must concede anything until the Electoral College makes its vote official, especially under the current circumstances.

                2. Thank you for the prayers. I’m a new homeschooler, and things have been going much better lately, but this week was challenging. Combine that with my concern over what’s happening with the pandemic, and it just wasn’t a good week. But the afternoon was somewhat better, so your prayers must have helped.

                  Anyway, regarding your question: Yes, I think Trump’s motive is to try to win the election. Why? Well, I believe he’s a narcissist and that he is his highest priority. My opinion is based on lots of past behavior, as well as current behavior (for example, as I mentioned in a previous comment, since the election he has been playing golf regularly but has yet to mention the current state of the pandemic, which is alarming). Also, I don’t think what he’s doing is instilling confidence in the election. I think he’s casting doubt on it. In the beginning, I could understand certain tactics, such as requesting a recount in Georgia where it was very close. But lawsuit after lawsuit has been dismissed (often by pretty conservative judges) because there is little evidence of fraud, and certainly not enough to change the outcome of the election. Yet he still persists. I just think he’s taken it too far. All this is just my opinion, and I respect that many others would disagree with it.

                3. Margo, I’m sorry for the delayed reply (and there’s going to be more of a delay, as I’m in the middle of a homeschooling day from you-know-where and don’t currently have the time to give your question the thoughtful answer that it deserves). I will get back to you later today. In the meantime, I want to thank you for the charitable approach you always take when asking questions, whether you agree with the other person’s view or not, and also for your openness to see another perspective, even if you don’t ultimately end up agreeing with it. Your approach is refreshing in the midst of all the vitriol going on these days (and I’m not referring to this thread, just what’s going on in general). Also, if you or anyone reading this has a moment to send up a prayer that my homeschooling day gets better, at least for my son’s sake, I would greatly appreciate it.

                4. Claire — I appreciate your kindness as well. And if you never get back to me because your primary vocation needed all the time that you had, I’m totally fine with that! Saying a prayer right now for grace for your homeschool day. 🙏✝️

                5. Claire,
                  Thanks for taking the time to write more. Glad your afternoon went better, and I hope that your home schooling continues to be filled with much grace.

                6. Happy Thanksgiving Margo! And thanks again for your charitable approach to controversial topics. I came to appreciate it even more as some nasty comments made their way onto this thread.

              3. AB/AG:

                In charity, the kindest thing I have been able to say to Trump supporters is: “I do not like the Trump Show and I am overjoyed that it was cancelled. I can understand that you liked the Trump Show and are sad that it was cancelled.”

                It’s also the nature of our system–one candidate will win and one will lose. Given that MAGA is about f’ing feelings, I don’t know if MAGA supporters really get to invoke that as a reason for non-MAGAites to dampen their happiness.

    2. Since none of you had any ‘compassion’ when Clinton lost, and most Trump supporters in my experience treated even the idea of a woman in office as horrifying, I feel no need to extend kindness to any of them. Fuck your feelings and get over it.

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