MEMBERS ONLY: The Never-Ending Election of 2016

by Jeremy Fassler

Evidence is coming out that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians to cheat his way to the presidency, and his attorney general finds himself caught in the lies. Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have been indicted; George Papadopoulos has pled guilty; and Robert Mueller still has a job (at least for now.) By all accounts, none of this should be happening, since our pussy-grabbing, racist-in-chief didn’t even win the most votes in the election. But none of that matters to him, because he spent the morning tweeting about this:

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It’s almost a year to the day Trump “won,” and he’s still tweeting about “Crooked” Hillary, “Crazy” Bernie, and using a racial epithet against Elizabeth Warren, just as he did in the election. He’s now demanding that the DOJ open an investigation on her. He was tweeting about her in August and September even though he wasn’t running against her anymore, and will never do so again. In August, he retweeted a racist meme that showed him “eclipsing” Barack Obama. He is obsessed with the people he beat, just as many Republican voters are. Winning was all that mattered to them. They want to bask in that feeling as long as they can, and will not let anything stand in the way of it. That’s why they always downplay the Russia investigation, telling us it doesn’t matter what happened, that it’s over and done with. We won. You lost. Get over it, snowflakes.

Meanwhile, the imbroglio on the left gets bigger and bigger. Donna Brazile’s excerpt from her new book, published yesterday in Politico, was a fabrication that could’ve appeared in Clinton Cash. Brazile alleged that the joint fundraising agreement Hillary signed in 2015 (which, for some reason, Brazile didn’t see until 2016, more than a year after the press announced its existence) gave her total control over the party before the primaries even began, including complete control over finances and right of first refusal when it came to appointing staff. Neither of those clauses are actually in the 2015 document, which you can read for yourself here, courtesy of WikiLeaks – hopefully the only time I ever have to link to anything from them.

But part of me is suspicious that people will do the research to realize all this for themselves, because the narrative of a powerful woman “cheating” the scrappy upstart from Vermont is a David vs. Goliath-matchup is still too good for them to give up. Elizabeth Warren, speaking for many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters last night, stated that “of course” the primary was fixed for Hillary. Had she read the original fundraising agreement? Was she aware that Russian bot accounts were trending the Donna Brazile hashtag by an increase of 10,000%, according to Hamilton 68? That they were tweeting Brazile’s Politico article by an increase of 5,300%? Was anyone doing this research?

Transparent shows of collusion with a hostile foreign entity. A President who can’t get off his Twitter. Allegations that it was “fixed.” A non-Democrat whose supporters act like they were entitled to the nomination, and may well ride that entitlement into 2020. And a woman, the most-admired in America, who beat the orange crybaby by 3 million and her primary opponent by four million, still being smeared with lies by a mostly white, mostly male political class. These are all things I thought we’d be done with when the election ended on November 9th, but the 2016 election still isn’t over. It may have ended for Hillary Clinton, who will not run again, but Donald Trump still thinks she is, and Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party want to rush to victory in 2018 and 2020 by belittling and dismissing the 65 million. As long as this continues, we are still reliving 2016. It’s like Groundhog Day, only this time, Bill Murray’s cynical anchorman has to get over the fact that the residents of Punxsutawney, PA, voted for Trump by a margin of nearly 60%. 

I am angry that I still have to fight battles that should have ended last year. I am angry that people on the right and on the Purity Left willfully ignore the damage Trump wreaks. I am angry that they cannot assess the damage they did by insisting there was no “enthusiasm” for Hillary, when they are merely projecting their own lack of enthusiasm onto people like me, who were excited as all hell to vote for her. I am angry that I live in a world where I still have to write about the Twitter account of a goon who should’ve been thrown off the website years ago. I am angry that Republicans accuse Democrats of colluding with Harvey Weinstein even though he was immediately stripped of his power and disavowed because of his crimes, unlike the President they stand behind. I am angry that this rage I harbor from what was done to the world last year is a motivating factor for my writing and for my work.

Most of all, I am angry because I and 65 million others voted for a candidate that we believed was best fit to lead this country, and every day we are made to feel like we are “less than” because of it. We are dismissed because we supported her, and we still do, and there should be nothing controversial about it. I should be able to go to her book tour, as I did in September, and not have a protestor scream with a megaphone about how it’s my fault we lost. Nothing I say in her defense should be controversial, but it is always treated as such because it goes against the pre-fixed narrative that she has to take the blame for everything. Even when I concede that she was “flawed” I do so only half-believing it – whatever flaws she possessed were no worse than those of other politicians who I also don’t agree with on everything but would vote for anyway. 

But I’m still going to fight for what I believe in, and I’m not going to be deterred from my insistence that what was done to my candidate in 2016 was wrong. To any Democrat who wants to switch to independent, I urge you to stay with the party, even if you feel unrepresented by it – your voice will have more power within the tent than it will if you’re screaming from outside of it. Things may be tough now, but that doesn’t mean they will be tough forever, nor does it mean that the status quo will always be this way. 

Admiral James Stockdale, imprisoned in a POW camp during his time in Vietnam, said that he always knew he would get out alive, but said that the people who didn’t make it were the ones who always said, “We’ll get out by Christmas/Easter/Summer,” and died of a broken heart. Explaining this paradox, he said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

The reality is: the 2016 election still isn’t over. But we cannot let that negate our faith that we will make it through this and be stronger for it.