It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. That’s what I kept telling myself late into election night. Nov. 8, 2016 was my 35th birthday and I firmly expected a Hillary Clinton victory. I didn’t put much stock into the national polling that said Hillary had a 13 percent national lead. I wasn’t expecting a landslide or a squeaker, but a solid convincing win.
So there I was in my Hillary shirt (you know the one: with the H and the arrow in it), as the minutes and then hours ticked by, my mouth agape in disbelief as more and more counties in swing states came in red on the CNN map. It was still early, some of my friends were telling me. The heavily populated districts take longer to count votes and they lean more heavily Democratic; same with the western states. The mood from my fellow Democrats was one of shock and horror, which grew into a panic as more states got called for Trump. I fell asleep in a confused and desperate fog, and that’s how I officially entered middle age.
I’ve heard some say that the depth of their despair matched what they felt on Sept. 11. I won’t go that far, but for me it was in the same hemisphere. How did this happen? Furiously searching for answers like most of us on the left on 11/9/16, there was no shortage of blame to go around. One thing I heard from several friends and acquaintances was, “Bernie would’ve won.” Naturally this speculation was offered with no real evidence and could have been easily dismissed. I never liked Sanders as a presidential candidate, though as an independent senator from a tiny, overwhelmingly white, northeastern state I liked him just fine. When I heard that he was running for president, my first thought was, as an Independent or a Green? Considering his ambivalence toward the Democratic Party, his announcement immediately struck me as pure opportunism.
I was a passionate Hillary supporter from the outset. I wasn’t angry about Sanders being in the race until he appointed the fiercely anti-Israel pseudo-intellectual Cornel West to the Democratic Platform drafting committee. West’s history of hostility to President Barack Obama, Democrats, and Israel should have precluded any such appointment. As the primary wins continued to mount for Sec. Clinton, I noticed a few strands in the general coverage of the primary. First, Clinton’s decisive wins in Southern states (including my new home state of South Carolina, which she won by 50 percent) weren’t covered the same way Sanders’s close finishes or tiny caucus wins were. Secondly, I was struck by the fervent hatred many Sanders supporters maintained for Clinton. In my conversations with Sanders supporters I made it a point to say that I would support the winner of the primary even if that person wasn’t my preferred candidate. I rarely received the same consolation.
On the other side of the aisle, I couldn’t believe what was happening. I thought Trump was a joke. Like a lot of other Jewish Zionists I watched Trump’s speech to AIPAC. It featured what is now thought of as standard Trumpian fare. He bragged about lending a plane to Giuliani and leading a parade after Sept. 11, followed by a lot of empty bashing of the Iran nuclear deal. He capped it off by asserting that Obama was “the worst thing that had ever happened to Israel.” I knew then that this man was unquestionably without a shred of intellectual integrity, since to say that is to be fundamentally ignorant of major…