Political post sort of. If you prefer lighter fare, tomorrow will feature cat pictures.
No, this is not a post decrying the influence of Evangelicals/Mormons/Conservative Catholics/Progressive Presbyterians/Marauding Mennonites on culture and politics in America. Nor is it about theocracies or theocratic belief systems. It is a meandering speculation on some of the more overly dramatic (to me at least) reactions to the US presidential election, and on how victorious civilizations overrode or overwrote the beliefs of the conquered. Like what the Babylonians did with Marduk and the Mesopotamian creation story.
Huh? What does a Babylonian storm god and the goddess who gave her name to the arch-evil dragon in Dungeons and Dragons’ Dragonomicon have to do with the election?A bit, if your mind works sideways the way mine seems to do.
I’d been reviewing some notes on religion and government in preparation for a discussion about religion and the Enlightenment and deism and so on. And one of the things that popped up was how conquering peoples tended to replace the local official religion with their own, at least in part. The Babylonians did it, the Inca did it. Sort of ” we defeated you, our gods defeated your gods, so ours are obviously superior.” Yes, it is an oversimplification of what seems to have happened, but the general sense remains. Did the locals all say, “Oh, you’re right, we were wrong, and let’s all troop over to the new temple of [$DEITY$] and make friends with the new rulers”? Some perhaps, others likely did not, which probably led to things like the troll legends of Scandinavia, some of which strongly suggest that the trolls were really Thor, Odin and Co. still lingering despite official belief in Christianity.
Please keep that in mind, because I will come back to it.
So, when the sun rose on Thursday November 10th and it became apparent that the US national election had given Donald Trump a rock-solid majority of electors, the progressive left appeared to decompensate in ways that left me alternating between boggled, amazed, and eye-rolling and muttering something related to my reaction to teenaged-girls and the movie Titanic, “The boat sank. Get over it.” Surprise, frustration, and anger of a sort I could understand, because that’s how I felt in ’08 and ’12. But the hysterical weeping, the emotional collapses, the apparent existential shock of Sec. Clinton losing the election didn’t make sense. Come Sunday, I had an idea.
What if, besides a lot of young people who had never lost at anything of import – be it a game, failing to make a try-out, a talent-show, or another contest of some kind – we were seeing a goodly number of adults whose faith had just been shattered? The Second Coming didn’t come. Sec. Clinton was supposed to change the world, to usher in a Millennium of free college, the humbling of men and of heterosexual Christian women, the prohibition of hurt feelings, turning the Earth back into a Green and Pleasant Land led by a woman for whom it was “her turn” to lead the US. And a lot of people said “No, thanks,” rejecting the progressives’ vision of paradise and preventing the Millennium.
In the mental and social world of the stunned mourners, everyone knew that Hillary R. Clinton represented everything good, everything just, everything fair that good people should be hoping and striving for. Their gods of social justice, of equality of outcome, of a world free from challenge and risk, a world where all are cared for by a benevolent State led by a President-Mother, had been thrown down, apparently, by the gods of equality of opportunity, of freedom to instead of freedom from, and by enough of the people who “should have understood,” who had “betrayed the faith” that it rocked them. Everyone had said that Paradise would arrive on November 9! Everyone knew that they stood on the right side of history and that the laws of history said that Progressivism would prevail! Everything they heard, and read, and talked about, said so. How could it not be? This was almost literally unthinkable.
Their gods had not triumphed. Their scripture (and script) of redemption and the coming of a new paradise on Earth did not come to pass. And they had no story, no idea, no mental preparation or experience of failure to buffer the shock and to provide solace or strength. Thus the melt-down, the flight to therapy and coloring books and safe-spaces and safety-pins and the tears, grief, and disbelief. Would they be forced to give up their beloved gods, be threatened with violence or loss of jobs and support if they did not give up the ideas they had worshiped so fervently and pay homage to the old gods of patriarchy and segregation and injustice and pollution and insult? Could it possibly be that their gods were wrong? The pain of that possibility must be agonizing for people who believed so strongly that Hillary R. Clinton was a messiah of sorts.
To be sure, not all of the supporters and purported supporters of Hillary Clinton reacted like this. A goodly number, probably the majority, managed to keep their disappointment, anger, frustration and grief under control and went to work the next day and week, took care of their kids and pets, vented privately, and started making plans for 2020. I know. I work with them, and I watched them gulp, snarl once or twice, and then carry on. A few people exploded rather publicly, and either took part in protests that seem to be shifting into riots or they blamed everyone around them and said a lot of things that they will likely regret later on. Remember, no matter what your political or philosophical persuasion, the Internet is forever, especially if you say or type juicy, or incandescent with rage, or nasty things.
As much as I think the campus weepers and their older sisters and brothers are blowing things far out of proportion, when I look at them as followers of a religion that failed at the exact moment it should have triumphed, when I see them as devotes of a god who did not come, I feel a little sympathy. Millennial religious movements are an old thing in religions, Christian most notably but also Jewish, Hausa in Africa, the Ghost Dance among some Native Americans, and probably a few others I’m less familiar with. But the world has not ended, the gods of the campus progressive mourners did not triumph in 2016. And sympathy has limits.
Edited to add 11/22: Welcome PJMedia/ Instapundit readers! Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.