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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The day after

Like many of my friends and fellow Franciscans, male and female, I am in shock. I couldn't work today. I did some reading and ended up in the QU chapel for an hour.

I woke up at 3 am this morning in time to listen to Donald Trump's acceptance speech. The most hopeful thing he said was that we need to put serious money into fixing our infrastructure--roads, bridges, etc. Hillary had been saying the same thing.

Suppose that Trump pushes the infrastructure idea so hard that Congress will be forced to pay for it. He might get more done than Hillary ever could. Infrastructure means construction jobs. That is what Trump's base wants most. If he provides it, the deficit will go through the roof, but he is maybe the one person who can shout down the deficit hawks.

The most discouraging thing about the election is that money seems to have prevailed in the down-ballot races, especially in Missouri, which I follow because we get the St. Louis paper here. That and the people that Trump may have around him, making the decisions for him. A fellow friar, Walter Dolan, who grew up in Tip O'Neill's neighborhood in Boston, described Ronald Reagan as "a good man surrounded by some of the most selfish people in the world." Rudy Giuliani as attorney general?

A few days ago I watched a movie called "Thirteen." It is a powerful description of how the African American population has never really gotten out from under the weight of slavery. It is very critical of Bill Clinton, who I always saw as more sympathetic to the Black population than most other politicians (and he was). It accuses him of getting into office by adopting the Republican policies of "three strikes and you're out" and the war on drugs. (I would add welfare "reform" to the list.) I think of Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow. She is an African American Harvard law professor featured in "Thirteen." Her book documents how the Supreme Count ever since 1980 has systematically made life worse for Black people, over and over again. Maybe the Black voters who stayed home figured it couldn't get any worse, and that Hillary was not likely to do much to improve it.

We are in uncharted waters. We need to keep our heads, treat one another with respect, and use the political game to do as much good as we can.