As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.
   H. L. Mencken in the Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July, 1920.

Off-topic alert: This article is far outside the bounds of my usual article material of photography and related travel/photo locations, subjects, technologies, and related topics. Next month I'll return to more familiar territory.

After months of television made even less watchable than usual by a vile infection of political attack ads; months of unsolicited telephone calls demanding answers to pollsters' questions and, yes, more attack ads; after months of hilariously fact-free newspaper editorial columns and letters; and after a series of non-helpful candidate debates, we in the U.S. have finally got past our November 8 voting day, and we've elected a “complete narcissistic moron*” billionaire to be our next president. Except for the billionaire part, it's not the first time, but we may have achieved new heights in the other categories.

Being fairly liberal I found the election night news coverage hard to watch; as it got later and later, the map turned redder and redder. The punditariat got it completely wrong. The polling organizations got it completely wrong, although they made up for that with their endless intrusive and annoying calls. Even the campaigns themselves got it wrong, clearly demonstrated late in the battle by the Democrat's confidence and the Republican grudgingly admitting that a win seemed somewhat less likely than he'd promised. He made a lot of promises like that; he probably had trouble keeping track.

The rhetoric and advertising from both sides, vicious, slanderous, occasionally bordering on violent, often of limited factual content, sometimes laughable in design (show the opponent in grainy black and white or monochromatic grays; he or she MUST be evil!), clearly aimed at a non-thinking public, seemed worse than ever before, but also seemed to work. As David Brooks said on the PBS NewsHour (25 November, 2016), “…the campaign… seemed to be sort-of a depraved three-ring circus.” It's all pandering anyway; people cling to their beliefs even when those are proven false.

What's disturbing (well, what isn't?) is that the horrid discourse of the last few months has become normal, is now an accepted, even expected manner of discourse. Imagine what the next election will be like.


Lots of technologies went into this election. The special effects and computer imagery guys produced stunning, if often pointless, displays for the media outlets. The campaigns, PACs and other influencers used social media, the Web, television, telephone, SMS/MMS (texting), and probably skywriting, in addition to more traditional media (junk mail). Signs, ranging from posters to banners to billboards covered buildings and lawns and fouled the landscape. I find this curious: I'm driving down the road and see a 20-foot wide “Send her to jail!” sign in someone's yard, and I think, “Gee, My Guy's a crook! I'd better vote for The Other Guy!”? Probably not. I'm more likely to wonder why I'd possibly care what the poster of that sign thinks. Maybe he likes to trash his yard. Or create jobs (a big theme, perennially) for sign printers.

Campaign-damaged electronics

Silence is golden.

But back to technologies. For me, there are two technical inventions that really shined during this election “season”, proving themselves to be real sanity savers: the TV remote's mute button, and caller ID.

I live in western Montana. I don't know anyone with a Nevada, or Tennessee, or Florida, or Arizona, or Illinois, or New York phone number, so when those and other states appeared on my caller ID I didn't bother to answer. Most calls came from our friends at “Out of area” or “Unknown caller”. Well, fine. If they can't bother to program an ID into their PBX or robo-calling computer, I can't bother to pick up. A quick glance at the caller ID display saved me a lot of time.

I rarely listen to television commercials. Our TV remote's mute button gets a lot of use. I keep the remote at hand and press that button the instant a commercial break begins. During this campaign season I wore the MUTING legend off the remote.

This Can't Possibly be True

As I write this the president-elect is assembling his administration. The wing nuts are coming out of the woodwork, certifiable whackjobs we'd not heard from in a while and mistakenly believed (hoped) had gone away for good. The president-elect attracts these crazies like a magnet, and seems enamored of those who are drawn to him. These leech-people are expert at boosting the egos of those to whom they attach themselves, and collectively form a weird, creepy sort of club, which would be funny except they'll soon be running the US of A. Oh, boy.

When the tweet-meister becomes Scowler In Chief in January, I suspect we'll see “many, many” of his campaign promises fail to materialize, in part because more than a few of those simply aren't possible to achieve, won't get through congress, or are things he simply made up (as The Media often printed, “with no basis in fact” or “unsupported statements”). Some of us will be delighted that the more bone-headed promises (rolling back environmental rules because climate change is a Chinese-fabricated hoax, repealing Obamacare on day one, Mexico paying for a great wall, for a few examples) won't happen in the ways promised, or at all. Others will be enraged, but they have no one to blame but themselves. They voted for him. So sad.

Are We There Yet?

Is our country great again yet, or will that take a while? I suppose it might take a couple of weeks to get rid of the gays, Muslims, Mexicans, the un- or under-employed, people needing medical insurance, women who think, minorities, people who expect clean air and water and pretty, smog-free vistas; you know, all those things keeping America from Being Great Again.

But let's all agree to get on with it. For those of us flummoxed by the results of this election, the options are fight, flight, or accept. Fighting may not get us far right now, but there are possibilities. Flight choices are limited. Acceptance is painful, but remember that the pendulum always reverses, and will swing back in our direction eventually. For those who think they've won, it's time to hold your new president and all of your lower office holders to account; they've made you promises, and now they have to perform. As Garrison Keillor so eloquently put it in a Washington Post essay, “The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him.” Do that. Pay attention. Hold your guys accountable. Remember their promises; it's why you voted for them. Watch how they perform in keeping those promises over the next four years. When they let you down, keep that in mind when you vote in 2020.

November 2016

*Apologies to morons everywhere. If you find my description of the president-elect offensive, distasteful, inaccurate, or anything other than what he's so clearly shown himself to be, here are some suggested replacements, in no particular order: misogynist, bully, liar, bigot, flip-flopper, panderer, cheater, thief, womanizer, fraud, cretin.