We had a series of articles under the “Embrace the Suck” umbrella a few years ago, but perhaps never had the topic more completely fit the times. Look back on a time when Donald Trump had been President of the United States for basically a month.

Political Suck … Now What?

The stench of star-spangled vomit lingers while the national hangover only now settles in. Whatever the hell it was that happened November 8 — liberal 9/11, Republican VE  Day, whitelash, demagoguery — we’ll be living with the consequences for a long time. No amount of painkillers and greasy food will quell it. The most cynical of impulses and ideas may be most directly implicated in what happened, but we all did this to the American body politic. Shamed, thrilled, and indifferent alike, we are all culpable.

You knowing readers are on the other side of 2017, and Trumpian America has begun in earnest. I’m writing this in late 2016 (production turnover time, you dig) and the country’s still coming to terms with the change.

I did not vote for Trump. My candidate lost when (like a lot of suckers) I thought for sure she’d win. WHOOPS. Election night was a strange, surreal few hours — descriptions my Trump-voting friends also use in between their messages of gloating and offers to send me a fascist red baseball cap.

We’re all trying to do our part to keep the dialogue going. For the sake of the American republic, if nothing else.

One parent who lived through the sixties said it’d been worse then, in terms of national disunity. The other parent said no, this is much worse. Both emphasized resolve, but also empathy. They’d lived through an era of Us against Them. Maybe it’s always Us against Them, true enough, but so much of the American experiment relies on the idea that it’s not. Even if that idea is nothing but pretense, is clinging to that idea and pretense in Trumpian America only the pursuit of a fool? Definitely maybe. But there are worse fates than the fool’s. [Political Suck accidental.]

Military Veterans voted fro Trump at about a 2:1 ratio, and, like it or not, he’s the Commander in Chief now.

As for the military and veterans communities: That we as a whole tend to vote Republican ain’t news, but I’d always ascribed that more to cultural backgrounds than set worldviews. Our formative years and social DNA stir within us all, even when — especially when? — we vote. But in 2016, after Trump bragged about not serving, after he’d slandered POWs, after he’d mocked generals and insulted a Gold Star family just for kicks, I really thought that might change. Honorable military service is supposed to be a sacred cow, and Trump had spat on that sacred cow and then melded it into a golden toilet for his own personal use.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Military veterans voted for Trump at about a 2:1 ratio. And like it or not, he’s the commander in chief now. He’ll be my president. He’ll be your president. He’ll be our president. That’s how this damn thing works.

Maybe I’ve been living in soft hipster Brooklyn too long. Maybe the kid from Reno has lost touch with REAL heartland values (crippling addiction to meth not included). Maybe vets are just as full of shit as anyone else, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand how or why our service members and veterans voted for the draft-dodging, Putin-slurping, stubby-fingering, doublespeaking, racebaiting, richie-riching, hate-mongering, goofy-suiting, bankrupting, tax-evading, pussy-grabbing Lord of the Heel Spur.

So I asked. [Political Suck aside.]

Anecdotal data alert! I polled thirty Iraq and Afghanistan vets — some friends still in the military, some former soldiers I served with, some acquaintances I’ve crossed paths with over the years at various camo gatherings. It came in at about a third for Trump, a third for Hillary, and a third for Gary Johnson/none of the above. Keep in mind that A) this hardly counts as a scientific poll and B) the vets sampled here don’t represent the wider 2:1 ratio mentioned above. They’re younger, for one, as the “average” American vet is much older than our generation. Still, I received some interesting responses worth sharing.

“I just thought the country needed a change,” wrote an Army E-6 who’s seen three combat tours and is approaching retirement. “The Donald’s a fucking blowhard, don’t get me wrong, but he’s different. He’s no typical politician. And I liked what he had to say about (improving American) infrastructure.”

“It was Hillary,” an active Marine captain wrote. “She’s corrupt. I’d vote for bin Laden before her. And Al Qaeda tried to kill me. Twice.”

The anti-Hillary sentiment came out time and time again. “If I’d done what she did (with the private server/emails) I’d be locked up at Leavenworth,” complained a former Army corporal. But not everyone agreed, particularly non-white male vets.

“I’m heartsick,” a current Navy lieutenant commander said to me. “As a woman of color, with some of the things Trump said while campaigning…it’s not that he’ll be my boss. That’s part of the military, following orders from people we might not agree with. But that my country heard all that hate and craziness and still voted him in….”

But it wasn’t just minorities who voted for Hillary. “I’m a crusty old white dude, drive a pickup, own thirty guns, as redneck as they come and proud of it,” a retired Army first sergeant wrote me. “But America’s like the Army — we’re at our best when we’re together. We’re at our worst when we’re divided. Fuck Trump.” [Political Suck intended.]

After an election as messy and ugly as this one was, can the country come together again? Or are we doomed to perennial Red State vs. Blue State, middle America vs. coastal America, country vs. city, headed for a Rome-like implosion as too many historians and social scientists are beginning to compellingly argue?

Hell if I know. I just work here.

Something I do know, though: America’s been through tougher times. Made better from it, too.

The Union forever. Hurrah boys, hurrah. No political leader should change that. No political leader can.

Even amidst a horrible Political Suck, we would never tell you for whom you should vote. If we did that, you see, we’d be like all the other idiots out there screaming, “If you only appreciated my brilliance, you’d see how 100% correct I am and how the other side overflows with lunacy.” … We did choose March 25th to publish, however, because one of the (many, many) trials against the man who became President, and the subject of this article, was supposed to begin. Of course that got delayed, with either represents a great strategy to allow him time to get re-elected so that he can put the kibosh on (almost) all these clearly unfair persecutions, or it serves as yet another meal of frustration and disbelief that began sometime back in 2015 when almost no one even understood what might be for dinner. We will not to you how to vote, but we WILL tell you that it matters. You can hit up the DNC, or the Green Party, or the Libertarians, or the RNC – in alphabetic order, to be clear – to begin your search. Better yet, you can just check your local newspaper for issues and people that will certainly impact you more directly after the next election. We also hope you still have a local newspaper.

Political Suck - The White House, Washington DC
Yeah, that can’t be good.

Maybe the 1960s were just as bad. Maybe now it’s worse. We just know Political Suck still Sucks.

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