My incarnation as a Palmer Report writer is now one year old. As it happens I had a brief but distinguished career in political advocacy prior to my writing for Bill Palmer. My one and only other act as a partisan proponent for a political candidate consisted of a single afternoon campaigning for the election of John F Kennedy. I was four years old and, together with my eight year old sister, we each carried a “Kennedy for President” sign back and forth like little soldiers on our front lawn. My mother put us up to this act of subversion, as it was done outside both the knowledge or approval of my father. He was at work, arriving home sometime later to squire my mother to the polls for what he mistakenly believed would be two votes cast for Richard Nixon. Though our state voted red (it was Utah, after all) I’m pleased to report that our side won in the end.
I remained largely politically inert from then until recently as a consequence of undiscovered outrage. Donald Trump helped me discover it. Donald Trump achieved this by becoming the object and subject of my outrage. Like many of you, I became political overnight as a result of Trump’s candidacy and stolen presidency.
Until recently I, like many of you, envisaged a Hillary Clinton presidency as a kind of instant political paradise, evoking visions of sun-dappled Elysian Fields set to the tune of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. My Palmer Report colleague TR Kenneth disabused me of this notion by pointing out to me something that had literally never occurred to me. Had Hillary Clinton won, there probably would have been no 2018 Blue Wave, and the Republican Congress – the one that has cynically dissolved into a partisanship creature operating strictly for its own ends – would have had no difficulty finding several pretexts to harass her, and possibly even impeach her. And Mitch McConnell’s Senate no doubt would have convicted her. And, I would add, the whole miserable effort would have been promoted and publicized from the outside by a disgruntled Donald Trump, claiming the election had been stolen from him.
So, any way you slice it, some flavor of our current debacle was inevitable, either in the form of a Clinton impeachment or a Trump presidency. It may be instructive to remind ourselves that I and many of you joined the fight because Donald Trump won. Would we have so joined had Clinton been impeached? To be nasty, mean, brutish and short about it, the answer to that question may well have been “no.”
So here we are, some of us with bullhorns, some of us with signs, some of us with the spoken word, some of us with the written word, entrenched in advocacy in a conflict where good confronts evil, corny though that may sound. I wish to thank my colleague TR Kenneth again for helping me understand that the best thing to emerge from all of this is you and me. I don’t know how this will end, but I believe in the chances of words over weapons and ballots over bullets, and I think you do too.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.