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I Would Love to Share in Your Incredulity

I Would Love to Share in Your Incredulity

Thomas S. Harrington

I would love to share, my liberal friend, in your sense of incredulity about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of United States. I would love to stand with you in the sense of woundedness that, while certainly painful up front, carries with it the secondary compensation of a warm and nurturing solidarity. I would love to sit with you and fulminate in righteous anger about the unparalleled vulgarity and cruelty of Trump and his followers.

As much as I’d like to do these things, I won’t. Why?


Anybody experiencing incredulity hasn’t been paying attention. Although the Talibundy exoneration, Trump victory, and continued GOP control of Congress are shocking, they were not surprising.

The media is hitting hard today to get the message out, including Don Gonyea and Peterson Institute “trade scholar” Gary Hufbauer on NPR this morning telling us that stopping TPP and other regulatory capture disguised as “trade deals” will “hurt the economy”,

Democrats need to join Greens protesting TPP in DC November 12-17.


Hey, Mr. Harrington, Professor Harrington,

I share your thoughts and call-outs to ‘liberals’ about our war-promoting, vastly inequitable, oppressive nation. Get it all off your chest. It’s awfully lacking though, in a recognition that there are a myriad of people, most calling themselves ‘Progressive’, but some still self-identifying as ‘liberal’, who are not and have not been just glorying in their identities, and relative good fortunes, or silently approving mass torture, drones, low wages, racism, Wall Street greed and crime, or environmental destruction. I am not asking you to praise or name them, but you should recognize that just because we have not prevailed, are splintered or weaker than we should be in numbers, we have not been invisible, or ineffective. The election this year was held on the birthday of Dorothy Day, great woman and flawed person, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Irony, but I want to remind you that every week, Americans all over are protesting U.S. drone murder, working for progressive causes like raising the minimum wage in their states, or getting universal healthcare, fighting for a non-fossil fuel future, or greeting new immigrants finding their way here from the mess our government created in the Middle East. Many of them came together this year to support Bernie Sanders, in hope.
So, yes, express your bitterness, but also recognize that we progressives/liberals/radicals/reformers have a place, and will continue to try to change our country for the better–I am sure you are one of us, so, in the words of a song my peace group chorus in PA sings, “Gonna keep on marching forward, never turning back, never turning back.”


Real US progressive activists and progressive voters are indeed often as invisible as Leonard Pitts observed many Trump voters have been. Pitts correctly noted that the two parties had ignored at best, and demonstrated contempt at worse for the “invisible people” that were supporting Trump. I have observed that progressives receive the same treatment.


Tell it like it is, Thomas.


The analysis is valid. The forces addressed were at play within the Democratic primary process. Yes, I believe that the nomination was stolen from Bernie and that the result would have been different had he been the nominee. But the fact remains millions more Democrats voted for Hillary instead of Bernie, the true progressive. Had the Democratic Party faithful truly believed in progressive principles why didn’t they vote overwhelmingly in favor of Bernie in New York, CT, Massachusetts and many other states.

When I asked “liberal” friends if they had voted for Bernie, they often said they loved Bernie but voted for Hillary. Why? Because she was more practical, more likely to win - win the nomination or the election? Did millions vote for Clinton in the primaries just because the media kept telling us she had it in the bag and they wanted to be on the winning team?

Yes, indeed, there’s plenty of blame to go around.


I find myself wondering why this diatribe does not lay out the distinction between “liberal” and “neo-liberal”. Failure to do so, in my opinion, falls stunningly short of any professorial effort to educate and renders the ‘essay’ an exercise in auto-erotica.

There is a similarity between this falling short / short fall in truly digging into the attempt to find a lexicon for our effective engagement with a situation termed the ‘anthropocene’. I would submit that there is valuable distinction to be made on this recognition of westernized human domination, all too often destructive due to the nature of “modern” institutions when it need not be so. That distinction being that the mortally flawed ideologies of predatory capitalism, the question of whether there is a capitalism that is not predatory, and what that actually means, renders our situation one of not yet accurately addressing what I would call the ‘capitalistocene’.

One of the distinctions between a potential framing of distinctions between the ‘anthropocene’ and ‘capitalistocene’ is found in the dynamic of the ‘exponential function’. In the former, the natural equilibrium dynamics of centering on well being of the planet opens onto beneficial aggregate and exponential restoration dynamics. In the latter, the opposite is true. What is even more disturbing is the ‘social’ is particularly exemplary of the exponential function. By this I point to the dynamics of ‘social media’. In today’s world, our engagement in the sphere of ideas is dependent on the capacity to articulate concepts. To ‘articulate’ means both to speak and to connect, as in articulated joints of a body with a diversity of functions.

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Brilliant Professor Harrington!

I am still amazed at the pass Obama gets from Liberals…to this day??? I guess Libyan lives don’t matter?


The shock only lasted a few hours, and even during that time, I noticed a sense of relief enveloping me. I am horrified that Trump won, and deeply grateful that Hillary did not. I actually walked around with a smile on my face most of yesterday. Not because I believe Trump will ‘make America great’, but because the majority of this country has said Hell No to the status quo.

We are in for quite a ride, and “interesting times.” While it is nearly impossible to imagine that Trump will be good for this country, at least we are unlikely to continue down the path of unconsidered acceptance of politics as usual. All of us, even those who voted for Trump, will be watching what happens now. He only has a brief period to make a positive difference in ordinary people’s lives. Many who voted for him just want a fair economy. If they don’t get it, or if their lives get even worse, he will be abandoned, too.

In the meantime, we progressives had better get our acts together. Without a specific, credible and cohesive alternative, we will only bounce from one disaster to another.


Although it was hard to smile yesterday, I felt like I did when my house burned down years ago when I was devastated but blessed with the opportunity to start over with a clean slate as I was not injured.

Lets start making a list of “credible, cohesive alternatives” NOW ! Name recognition needs to be cultivated for any candidate who wants to be viable in 2020.

Jeff Merkley and Tulsi Gabbard appear to have potential.

Elizabeth Warren is well suited for her Senate seat but will not be a good POTUS choice for progressives.


Debbie Wasserman Schultz scolds anyone calling her a “Progressive,” explaining that she is instead a “Liberal.” She’s right on there. It’s an important distinction. In today’s world a Liberal is a mainstream Democrat working to counter the Republican Conservatives who are determined to dismantle social welfare and human rights advances won by Americans between Hoover and Reagan. Sometimes Liberals even try to tweek the system to improve it (Obamacare is an example), but at their core Liberals are political insiders and capitalists. Progressives want fundamental change through revolution: Green Revolution, World Peace, Community-Based Living, Equality for All. None of that will come without a fight because the Elites hold onto their plunder with all their might, which is intimidating. Money is “the root of all evil,” and Progressives, not Liberals, are willing to confront the Great Satan.


Excellent piece!

I didn’t like Hillary for all the things he listed and I was not excited about a Hillary presidency. But I still have a sense of anxiety about it all. Things, I think, will get more violent here at home.

But that was always going to happen.

What I’ve been saying is same direction, steeper trajectory.


Of course the most important fight of our lives will be off most people’s radar. Trump will probably be on an accellerated downward trajectory and the Corporate backers of the DNC know this. So I am sure the minute Trump was declared the winner, they went to work to ensure that the enevitable Democratic counter-revolution that will occur in the next 2-4 years will be controlled by them with their surrogate candidates. They are in a war room right now as I type this with this very artice in front of them, plotting the repulse of Michael Moore’s appeal.


Five stars to your article, professor Thomas S. Harrington. Excellent piece.

Yet, I feel your view needs expansion: you focus your critique on laissez-faire Americans, of course due to the recent political developments; I agree on this issue, many, but not all, have become indifferent to what their government is doing home and abroad, as long as they are not the victims. However, such indifference includes a bigger number of people; it has become a way of life also in Europe.

I am a Dane living in Africa. I have great difficulty observing how the people of my birth country embrace political opinions and elect governments that happily engage in “the war on terror,” that have little compassion for the victims from these wars, that have racism and anti-Muslim sentiments on their agenda. I have observed that many of my fellow Danes now have become hateful. That is not the Danes I once knew. I find it a painful development.

I trust this “slippery slope” relates to the values of Modern democracy. People have been taught by the domineering “authorities” (and regretfully accepted without questioning) only to involve themselves in politics as voters, and not engage actively in politics otherwise. However, little do we realize that “representative democracy” does not work at all. It is a reality that nobody has the ability to represent anybody else in all aspect of their lives and values. You can only feel, think and choose for yourself; you cannot decide on behalf of any other individudal especially not someone you have never met.

We will have to sit down and communicate and make agreements with each-others in order to know what each needs, wishes and prioritizes. I call it face-to-face democracy. In my opinion, it is the only organization that works as a democracy. It can only function in smaller groups and by delegating the current centralized economic and decision making power to smaller decentralized geographical areas. The huge central federations and its top heavy power positions will never work for us all. These powerful people dine and wine with the wealthy ones, they never talk to a poor person, and they have no clue how the average person lives.

I therefore suggest we work to dismantle all huge political and economic coalitions such as EU and USA, and create smaller national units, much smaller. The movement is already starting: Some people in Catalonia want to exit from Spain, people in Scotland want to exit from Great Britain, it is a reality that Great Britain will exit from the EU. I read that also groups of people in California suggest their state exit from the USA and become its own independent democratic nation. I believe this is the way to go.

We can then start talking together, get to know each other and our differences - discuss what choice is best for all, rather than what is convenient for the individudal political representative. In this way, we can reclaim our human compassion and relearn the feeling of community. It can end individualism, selfishness and the violence such values entails. It will improve a quality of life for society and nature because when people have to live inside the environment they also have to life from, they will care for it.

I have great trust in the human ability and I think that we can overcome all political and economic domination, which I perceive as being the outcome of Modernism. No singular human being can handle so much power that we freely delegate to individudal leaders. Conclusively, we need to end representative democracy, one step at the time, starting by limiting delegation of power to a minimum.


Better for us that if there is hardship to be endured that it be endured by us (And us alone, or as alone as we can be, for I do not wish to have the rest of the world further subjugated by our drones and idiot leaders so the .01% of Americans can have still more!)
We need to stop sociopathic drone wars first.
Here’s hoping that Trump, who went to a military school, isn’t a chicken-shit-hawk dropping bombs on folks from half a world away like his 2 immediate predecessors.


Good article. The Trump phenomenon is not about Trump. Trump was the fitting person for the right moment. Even if HRC had won this time, another Trump would have appeared 4 years from now. From a historical perspective, this could turn out to be a good thing.

But HRC’s lack of vision and intoxication with power plaid an important role in precipitating this. She (who also more or less controls the Dem.Party), could have included Sanders in her ticket (or the other way around) and increased her own chances of wining, which would have also benefitted the rest of us mortals.


Indeed. I read on here a couple of times that the election of a Trump presidency is the equivalent of cutting open a poisoned wound. There still is no guarantee the host will survive but letting the poison seep out will increase the chances of survival. While under a Clinton administration the poison would be allowed to continue to fester, decreasing the chances of survival.


I call it consensus. When you do all of those things like sitting down with people, talking and discussing, and agreeing on the best way forward, the solution to a collective problem, without ego, but with a prayer: that we shall be able to recognise our common humanity, and work together with the self discipline required to build a better place for all of us to live in, without prejudice.

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Kathrynh1, I don’t think that Professor Harrington was directing his remarks to you, or me ( I and several others have been standing on our town square almost every Saturday morning since well before Obama was elected.) I think he was talking to the Hillary supporters who did not question Obama’s actions or lack of action in regard to the list laid out in the article. I would also like to add; his pursuit of whistle blowers, his bowing to pressure and not releasing every last one of the Guantanamo ‘detainees’, his pursuit of Julian Assange, his callousness for the treatment of Chelsea Manning, his aggressive actions to provoke Putin, his antics to provoke the Chinese by having our navy practice their war games in the South China Sea, his spending of trillions of dollars over the coming years to develop new nuclear weapons when we are supposed to be in a time period of working toward nuclear disarmament, his support for Israel, monetarily and weapons acquisitions. In a perfect world, or even in a movie we would be able to see just who the villain is.

Our city is known for being a liberal bastion in a conservative state but almost everyone looks at the Peace Vigilers as though we are lunatics. My sister’s reply to the things on this list is, “things have always been this way. And Such and such a country is doing theses things, too.” My response is that we now know that these things are happening and are being paid for by us and by that point she wanders away not wanting to engage in a conversation with an obvious lunatic. They believe that the only problem we have is that there is a Republican Party.

I know she is devastated and very angry that Hillary did not win the election. Thank you Profesdor Harrington. Your column is going into my ‘keep’ file. It is a treasure.i


Thank you sir, that’s exactly who I feel. I already shed tears of sadness when Bernie Sanders was pushed to the side. I am not crying now for this woman’s lost. I cannot interfere with Karma.