Friday, November 11, 2016
Word Count – 869

gotterdammerung – twilight


Before I could write about the 2016 election, I needed a word to wrap my thoughts around. And by Thursday, I had the word and it was götterdämmerung. It’s the title of the final opera of Richard Wagner’s four part cycle The Ring of the Nibelung. And this title translates as Twilight of the Gods.

The plot of the four-part opera revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world. In the final installment – Gotterdammerung – the god Wotan, who has coveted the ring, and who was temporarily thwarted by a woman, is destroyed.

And it’s with Gotterdammerung in mind that I want to write about the election.

So, what did we learn on Tuesday?

  • Hillary, in her last political action, kicked the goddamn door open to the 21st century. No one will ever question whether a woman can head a national ticket for president again.
  • The women’s movement has moved on. Modern women do not come with the gender baggage that women of Hillary’s generation carry. Modern women would have cheered and cheered loudly if Hillary had told the Donald that she had a bigger dick than he had. 2
  • Because of Hillary, the misogyny that permeated American culture has been fully exposed. And even though a serial misogynist won the election, but not the popular vote, the label he carries and the issues around gender and violence against women are now front and center.
    Had Hillary won, the destructive forces aligned against women would have stayed hidden behind the dismissive phrase – but a woman won. Just as the destructive forces aligned against African-Americans have been silenced by the phrase – but you have African-American president.
  • Those of us on the east and west coasts, those of us who live in gentrified neighborhoods, those of us who own mcmansions and Teslas can no longer pretend that we didn’t grow up in the McKeesports, the Sault Ste Maries, the Fitchburgs, the Toledos of 20th century America. Because when we do, we get the results we saw Tuesday,
    And we can’t pretend that those who stayed back in the industrial centers of our parents’ generation are all stupid bigots who get their information from Fox News. No, they are also human beings trying to earn a living, trying to do what is best for their children.
  • That Richard Florida’s term, creative class, is a hoax – a smoke screen for greed and self aggrandizement. It’s a term that many of those who left behind the manual labor of their parents have clothed themselves in. And the election showed that the creative class has calcified in its exclusivity. It no longer thinks outside the box, it no longer challenges the status-quo, it shops. And alternative, third-party presidential candidates are just another commodity on the shelf.
    And with the corruption of the educated finally exposed, the election made clear that it’s those who live outside the iPhone-worlds of the hoity-toity creatives that are now the agents of change.
  • As the group that brought about the cultural revolution exits the public arena, we leave behind not a young Martin, not a young Bobby, but an old, seedy parody of JFK with a comb-over and a former mayor who believes that because he’s confessed to his very Roman Catholic priest he is free of the stain of adultery.
    Our group also leave behind the city that nurtured and elevated these two men. New York City’s value as the east-coast center of diversity as the city that gave us the Stonewall rebellion will be forever diminished.
  • We’ve also learned that the Christian Right is anything but Christian; that it’s really the modern Klan in religious robes. And that its political influence and its adherence to Christian beliefs are for sale to any white man. Can you say money-changers?
  • And lastly, we’ve learned that the Grand Old Party is fooling itself if it thinks the president-elect has any loyalty to its message or to its ideology. He ran just as much against them as he did his Democratic opponent.

The essay title is also about the second part of the election – the myth that we can go back and make American great again. Only a 70-year-old, white man and a political party hell-bent on protecting the corporate rich can spew such a fallacy. Only the minions of a corporate oligarchy can stand tall and without hesitation peddle lies to struggling blue-collar workers and not care about the duplicity they propagate. Wotan didn’t care who suffered or who died as long as he got the ring. And the king of the gods had no idea that the ring would lead him to a throne that would also serve as his funeral pyre.

It is my belief that the new president and the Republican majority will finally put 20th century America to rest; that at the end of their tenure we will see ashes and smoke. What I don’t know is who and what else will be consumed in the immolation.

1  The iconic image from Woodstock, 1969.
2  Thanks Mim, it was a great comment.

the numbers

  • 47% of eligible voters did not vote
  • 53% of white-women voted for the Republican candidate
  • the Republican candidate receiver fewer votes than Romney did in 2012
  • Hillary received 5 million fewer votes than Obama did in 2012