The fluorescent circus of Election 2016—that spectacle of yellow comb-overs, orange skin, predatory pussy-grabbing, last-minute FBI interventions, and blinking memes hewn by an underground army of self-important Internet trolls—has finally come to its unnatural end. I had looked forward to this moment, only to find us all instantly embroiled in a new crisis. And unfortunately, it’s easy to foretell what, or rather who, will move into the bright lights of our collective gaze now: We’re going to (continue to) focus on… well, ourselves.
We are obviously not, for instance, going to redeploy our energy examining the embarrassing war that we’re still waging in Afghanistan, now in its 16th year—something that went practically unmentioned during election season, even as fighting heated up there.(You can be sure that Afghans have a somewhat different perspective on the newsworthiness of that war.) We are also not going to spend our time searching for the names of people like Momina Bibi, whom we’ve… oops… inadvertently annihilated while carrying out our nation’s drone kill program.
For his part, Donald Trump has pledged to “take out” the families of terrorists, a plan that sounds practically ordinary when compared to our actual drone assassination program, conceived by President George W. Bush and maintained and expanded by President Obama. And while I don’t for a moment pretend that Trump’s electoral victory is anything less than an emergency for our republic—especially for the most vulnerable among us, and for every American who believes in justice, equity, or basic kindness—it’s also true that some things won’t change at all. In fact, it’s prototypically American that an overlong and inward-looking election spectacle (which will, incidentally, have “big-league” international implications) will be supplanted by still more inward-looking phenomena.