Why I'm Angry

12/05/2016 05:28 pm ET Updated Dec 05, 2016
Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton watch and wait at her election night rally in New York, U.S., N
Carlos Barria / Reuters
Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton watch and wait at her election night rally in New York, U.S., November 8, 2016.

Maybe you’ve heard of the “Five Stages of Grief.”

First, there’s shock and denial. That’s what I experienced on election night. “This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.”

After that comes anger.

And next—well, I don’t know what comes next. I haven’t moved past the anger phase personally.

Let me tell you why I’m angry.

I’m angry at FBI Director Jim Comey. There was a wide consensus among pollsters that on October 26 Hillary Clinton had an electoral majority. While Hillary aimed to turn out the Obama coalition, she had also made impressive inroads with college-educated whites, a cohort Democrats historically lose. And she was running strong with them, up by 12 points, until Comey’s reckless and unprecedented intrusion into the election.

The email story followed a familiar pattern. Hillary’s support dipped whenever the email controversy was in the news. As soon as the story faded from the headlines, people dismissed it, and she recovered.

We built up a strong immune system to the email nothingburger, but, in the end, Hillary was unable to fight off the Comey virus, given all the other pathogens of the cycle. There was simply no time to recover, especially among late-deciding college-educated women. The Comey letter also depressed turnout with the Demoratic base.

In short, the late-stage release of the Comey letter cost Hillary the election. Independent analysts from Nate Silver to Mike Podhorzer of the AFL-CIO have reached the same conclusion.

Yes. It’s that simple. Numbers don’t lie.

So, I’m angry at Jim Comey, and I’m even angrier at the Clinton-haters in the FBI, egged on by Trump sycophant Rudy Giuliani, who forced Comey’s hand.

I’m angry at the media for their inexcusably awful coverage of the email story. How many consumers of news know that, despite his personal disagreement over the use of a personal email server, Comey testified under oath that Hillary Clinton did not lie about her emails?

The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the media old guard turned a minor story into a central issue of the campaign. Each time we thought the zombie story was dead, it would rise again in all caps above the fold, burying the truly consequential stories.

The bottom line is this: The press helped install in the White House a 'ringside revolutionary,' a racist demagogue who doesn’t even believe in a free press.

And speaking of buried consequential stories, I’m also angry at Russia, a hostile foreign power that engaged in a criminal conspiracy to hack Democratic computers and employed ruthlessly effective KGB-style propaganda tactics to sway the election to their candidate, a Putin puppet.

Let’s be clear about how much trouble we’re in: The FBI and the Russian government allied with the Republican Party to elect a president who is an enemy of our small-‘d’ democratic system of government, whose methods and instincts are those of a dictator in the developing world. The NSA failed to stop the Russian interference—in fact, the NSA itself got hacked. Now Trump controls the NSA.

It’s not yet accurate to call this a coup d’etat, but it’s important to recognize the similarities.

I’m angry at the purveyors of fake news. I’m even angrier at companies like Facebook that caved to organized right-wing pressure and enabled a wave of misinformation. An analysis by BuzzFeed found that fake election stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

Fake news is an existential threat to our democracy. And now, for the first time in our history, we have a minister of disinformation, Steve Bannon, who commanded a vast proto-fascist media empire, operating from a plum perch in the West Wing.

I’m angry at the mainstream media, which framed the election as a choice between two detestable people – one an aspiring banana republican ― and the other, one of the most qualified, dedicated, forward-thinking and honorable candidates ever to seek the office of the presidency.

Abdicating their vital public mission, the media built Donald Trump up for money and ratings. They tipped the scales by, for example, sweeping the sham Trump Foundation and its illegal donations under the rug while smearing the Clinton Foundation, which has saved millions of lives in the developing world.

In the closing weeks of the campaign, faced with having to cover video footage of Donald Trump bragging about routinely groping women, I know of news editors demanding more coverage of how Hillary used her own email address. They didn’t have truth or fairness foremost in mind; they were desperate to satisfy some perverted notion of “parity,” the virtuous-sounding news term for false equivalence.

The only hint of self-reflection I’ve seen in the media are a few articles suggesting they don’t understand Appalachian whites as well as they ought to. As if their only sin was not reading J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” soon enough. Nothing about their news judgment, nothing approaching former New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan’s gently-presented piece after the Times erroneously reported that Hillary was about to be indicted.

The bottom line is this: The press helped install in the White House a “ringside revolutionary,” a racist demagogue who doesn’t even believe in a free press. Good luck with that.

I’m also angry at Republican suppression of the vote. For years, Republicans have stealthily advanced laws that unconstitutionally restrict the franchise in states like North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Texas. By requiring specific forms of ID, limiting early voting, and even applying literacy tests, these states erased the African-American and Latino firewall that could have thwarted a Trump presidency.

I’m angry at those who voted for Green party candidate Jill Stein, the Ralph Nader of 2016. Stein’s vote exceeded Trump’s margin of victory in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and, nearly 5-to-1, in Michigan.

Dr. Stein midwifed the birth of a national crisis that will be a nightmare for the causes she professes to care most about, from the Supreme Court to healthcare for all.

So much for the revolution.

I’m really angry at those in America who still refuse to give a woman a shot in the top job.

Most of all, I’m angry at Donald Trump and his campaign.

And I’m angry at the millions of disaffected millennials who sat on their hands in the most consequential election of our lives and didn’t even bother to vote. From gay rights to college affordability to the threat of global climate change, the Trump administration will be a disaster on the issues that matter most to millennials.

But most of all, I’m angry at Donald Trump and his campaign. I’m angry that he openly encouraged and capitalized on Russian criminal espionage. I’m angry that we have a president-elect whose path to power ran straight through the Kremlin.

And I’m angry at Trump for running an overtly anti-Semitic campaign. I was outraged when he slapped a Jewish star on a photo of Hillary, with cash raining down above her. Even his closing argument—the television ad he ran in the final days of the campaign—put anti-Semitic tropes front-and-center, casting prominent Jews like Janet Yellen and George Soros as villains who control global finance, an anti-Semitic slur right out of the pages of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I’m angry about the misogyny that permeated Trump’s campaign. I’m angry about the nativism. I’m angry about the racism. The list goes on and on.

Have I mentioned that I’m still not past the anger stage of grief? I don’t plan to move past it anytime soon.

The fifth and final stage of grief is acceptance.

Those of us who care about progressive values, those of us who are for respect and unity, not discrimination and division, must never accept the Trump presidency.

The work of the opposition party begins now.

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