My Post-Election Hangover was particularly brutal.
It began with boxed red wine,1 but we broke out the whisky when the Red Army rampaging across the electoral map conquered Iowa, then Ohio and Florida. The fall of Pennsylvania vaporized the last of the remaining rational atoms in my whisky-damp brain, which led to crackpot calculations like trying to calculate the odds of Clinton forcing a 269-269 tie.2
When the delusions wore off, we got to work on the oily moonshine my roommate kept in Mason jars. Our drinking became a kind of feverish commitment to the lawless bizarro universe we now inhabited. A twilight hour raiding of the pantry even turned up a bottle of champagne, which was a fitting anti-celebratory cabooze to our parade of drinks turned funeral procession.
Unfortunately for me, I was still alive the next morning and had work. My job at the time required me to wake up at 6:00 a.m. so I could walk the four wet miles downtown because I didn’t have quarters for a bus ticket.3 The walk usually gave me an hour and a half to listen to music or NPR or something that made me feel justified in my laziness, since it would only take a ten-minute trip to the bank to obtain a roll of quarters. The morning of November 9th though, my mind was on a different kind of change.
But the world felt pretty much the same. It was quiet maybe, but if everyone else was also nursing a 9.0-magnitude Post-Election Hangover, that was no surprise.
At the office I realized I’d vastly overestimated the amount of people dealing with Post-Election Hangovers. No one bothered to close their blinds or dim the buzzing morgue-like fluorescents above us, and work flow proceeded at its usual pace. A guy on the opposite side of my cubicle was chatting about a monster fish he’d caught that weekend. Other than the lost-in-thought look everyone had, it was a normal Seattle morning.
I’m not saying this to minimize the historical significance of the 2016 presidential election, but there are a couple compelling reasons why it might not be the Armageddon everyone is scared of. In fact, better than narrowly sidestepping oblivion, there is potential for some serious progressive achievements.
The next four years will be a Machiavellian mind-game between the Democratic and Republican leaderships; the agenda will be controlled by whoever can nimbly navigate the elusive, improvisational headspace of the 45th president. Strategic emotional prodding and a few well-placed tweets can begin the process of intimating some substantial progressive ideas, which the Prince of Pout has proven to be susceptible to in the past.4
Because with the Prince it’s all about appearances. Take, for example, his tweet earlier this month mocking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s low ratings for The Celebrity Apprentice, while simultaneously referring to himself in the third-person as “the ratings machine, DJT”. Why the fuck do you care about TV show ratings? You’re a couple weeks away from commanding the world’s most powerful military and bearing the standard of the world’s greatest democracy. It’s the Average Joe equivalent of slamming your high school’s football team for not making the playoffs this year, despite the fact you graduated 30 years ago and now live thousands of miles away. From criticizing candidates like Carly Fiorina and Clinton for just not looking presidential, to discussing the length of his dick during a presidential debate, President Baby-Hands must be regularly assured his image remains hyper-masculine and unshakeable.
This is where progressives have an opportunity to nab some of that sparse DJT mental real estate. The lifespan of thoughts in the mind of Our Dear Leader is gnat-like; a substantive opinion about something is lucky to last a few days, much less a whole first (or, God forbid, second) term. With their existence so fleeting, there’s no reason why a few opinions couldn’t be progressive given pressure at a few critical junctures, especially if Republicans can be baited into drawing his ire. Even one progressive policy success would go a long way to preventing further Post-Election Hangovers across the nation, or at least for all the political aficionados out there.
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1 In fact, Seattle’s U-District echo chamber had thoroughly convinced just about everyone. I’d wanted to bring more friends over for a watch party, but most of them questioned why I was even bothering to see it live, since tomorrow we’d all wake up with Hillary as Prez and life would go on. “Like staying up to watch the sun rise,” one of them told me.
2 Before Michigan, theoretically, a tie could have happened. Detroit was the last part of Michigan to vote, so late-coming black and urban voters could have pulled Clinton to victory there (Michigan was taken by less than a quarter of a percentage point). In addition, Clinton would have to win the remaining toss-ups and split Maine’s wonky district-based votes just right. The odds were a million to one, but 2016 was a good time for crazy gambles.
3 It either costs $2.50 or $2.75 for a Metro bus ticket in Seattle depending on your time and route. This factor, combined with the burden of my humble abode’s coin-operated laundry units, made quarters a scarce and valuable commodity. The going bill-to-quarter exchange rate fluctuated based on how well my roommates and I bargained with each other. This made our exaggerated complaints about our “medieval” living standards at least somewhat honest considering we carried around sacks of metal coins of approximate value.
4 A shortlist of progressive ideas the Prince of Pout has expressed support for at different points in his life: New Deal-style infrastructure projects, single-payer healthcare, raising taxes on the rich, renegotiating costly government contracts with cushy special interests in the defense industry, reducing the moneyed influence of lobbyists, caution about foreign entanglements, protecting American workers from harmful trade deals, etc. It is reasonable to question how well these kinds of policies would be rolled out (e.g. all new bridges are hamstrung with toll booths, replacing free trade with tariffs sparks a trade war), but that might also be manageable.