As the clock hit midnight last New Year’s Eve, I asked my friends how on earth we could toast in 2017, when the United States was about to inaugurate a racist who didn’t even hide his fascist impulses as our next president. One of my friends smiled, raised his glass, and said, “To the fight.”
I took it both as reassurance and admonishment. No doubt I had been in a pit of despair since I left the Hillary Clinton party-turned-wake at Manhattan’s Javits Center in the early hours of the morning on Nov. 9, wandering in a daze through Hell’s Kitchen as people burst into tears on the street. But my friend was right. It is a privilege to have the clarity and resources and voice that allows one to fight back. Many people don’t have that and get crushed under the boot in silence. I feel sick and angry and sad all the time, but I don’t feel as helpless as many people do. For that, I am grateful.
It’s not just OK to take pleasure in the fight. It may very well be necessary, as taking pleasure in victory may elude us for a long time.
Liberals, despite our supposed cosmopolitan qualities — the ones Fox News loves to deride us for — are just as mired in Hollywood narratives as everyone else. The belief that good guys will win in the end is endemic, with liberals frequently talking about Donald Trump’s fall in terms of “when” and not “if.” He has become a totem, with far too many people believing that once he is gone, our problems are over.
But the grim truth of 2017 is that even if Trump ends up in prison or at least in disgrace, his ascendancy is part of a larger story that was never just about him. He’s a dim-witted figurehead for the real problem, which is that campaign-finance deregulation and gerrymandering have allowed the Republican Party, which has been completely consumed by…