For long years I have held in high reverence Dame Rebecca West's indelible masterpiece Black Lamb and Gray Falcon. In it, West turns an excursion through Yugoslavia on the eve of WWII into a grand meditation on humanity's shared instinct for self-destruction, and on the continual need to resist that urge. It is marvelous, beautifully written and filled with stark profundity, and there is one line in particular I would like to share with you here:
Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.
I generally keep my political opinions to myself, and would prefer others did likewise. The internet has given everyone a very large microphone, but few use it to any valuable purpose. Social media is a continuous tableau of remarkable stupidity; the left is sanctimonious and unoriginal; the right, coarse-minded and thoroughly mad. I sincerely hope you can forgive me for adding to this cacophony. At the very least, please understand that I am not operating under the misimpression that this post will have the slightest effect on the votes or beliefs of anyone reading it. It is simply that we have reached a point where one wishes to state clearly where one stands.
Hillary Clinton is a political operator without the slightest honest conviction, trimming her sails to the day's winds. Her indisputable intellect and long experience have sadly not led to any great capacity for judgment, and as Secretary of State she was often prey to that affection, seemingly ubiquitous among our elected officials, for dropping bombs on distant countries to no useful purpose. As a rote supporter of the status quo she will do very little to alleviate the worst problems facing our society, and is more than likely to introduce a few more on her own.
She is, none the less, so far superior to her opponent as to make any comparison between them seem as between an over-cooked meal and a bottle of undiluted arsenic. Trump is so utterly unfit for the position of President that any notion of giving it to him can only be seen as a manifestation of that madness of which Dame West spoke, or perhaps as singularly effective two finger salute by a relentlessly disenfranchised portion of the American population. Tragically, he is only the symptom and not the cause of the long-growing political rifts which exist in our society, rifts resulting from a rapid collapse of common standards among an electorate held together chiefly by material wealth. He represents a disorder which goes far beyond either party and points rather towards a general, probably unsolvable, trend.
Under these circumstances, it it easy to feel that any individual act of civic participation is irrelevant and even slightly absurd– who voted in the last election for consul, one wonders, depositing a ballot with the Vandals knocking at the gates of Rome? This apathy is surely folly; we are called upon to influence events to whatever dim degree we are able. Recall that we are never but a few precious steps from the precipice; there is no guarantee of tomorrow's prosperity. Perhaps these elections pass as a peculiar blip in American history, a minor embarrassment which our children, happy and prosperous, laugh about on late night comedy shows. Perhaps future generations will look back upon us with contempt and sorrow, cursing us for failing to properly steward their inheritance. If it is the latter, I would like it to be known that I am for maintaining the house, to return to Dame West's quote, and perhaps even starting in on some modest repairs if at all possible.
My personal dislike of her having not the slightest bearing on the matter, I have cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.
PS. I will not be responding to comments.