This Slim and Slippery Thread of Hope

November 11, 2016 | 9

“The day after we elected Donald Trump, I told my daughter the truth: This was the wrong choice. I am devastated. I am furious. And I am sorry, because you deserve better.” Nicole Chung with some beautiful words over at Buzzfeed (q.v. also Mira Jacob (“Here’s What I’m Telling My Brown Son About Trump’s America”) and Manuel Gonzalez (“I Will Teach My Children To Survive The New America”).

is social media editor at The Millions. She lives in Brooklyn where she's currently working on her first novel. Find her online @kirstinbutler, and of course, on The Millions‘ feeds.


  1. ““The day after we elected Donald Trump, I told my daughter the truth: this happened because the candidate running against Trump, the one I wasted my vote on, was even worse than Trump. But I had no idea she was worse than Trump because I knew nothing about her. All I knew was her cynical marketing, which played to my naive arrogance, and I liked it. This is the danger of democracy, and now we’ve learned it the hard way, all over again: the people really do get the leaders they deserve.”


  2. “The day after we elected Donald Trump, I told my daughter the truth: this happened because there was so much false equivalency bandied about that even expatriate writers of masturbatory fiction actually believed Trump was the better candidate, even though that would be like suggesting a pile of dog shit makes a better tinfoil hat than tinfoil. These expatriate writers of masturbatory fiction only knew Clinton through white nationalist conspiracy theories and fake news sites, which played to their naive arrogance, and they liked it. This is the danger of democracy, far more dangerous than those in the American heartland who voted for Trump in their own economic self-interest, far more dangerous than those Democrats who preferred to stay home rather than repel Trump at the ballot box: the speed with which otherwise intelligent individuals will fall in line with a racist, sexist, xenophobic autocrat who has threatened to jail opponents and erode freedoms of speech and press, admires dictators and believes he knows more about ISIS than generals, and brags about sexual assault. But it’s also true, I told my daughter, that America is strong enough to withstand people like these expatriate writers of masturbatory fiction. We will ignore them, like publishers have ignored their masturbatory fiction. We will reject their agenda of white male supremacy. We will not flee to Europe, but rather stay in our country and fight hate from the ground up. We will stand up to Trump and these expatriate writers of masturbatory fiction. And from these troubling times we will emerge stronger and better as a nation.”

  3. Toad

    Yes, indeed, my friend, I’m an Expat. Proud of it, too. Got out while the going was good; haven’t regretted a millisecond since Dubya took office. America is too violent a place, on the whole… too full of zealots (reading your rant above doesn’t dispel that feeling). But I couldn’t help noticing that your stream of anti-Steven ad hominems is totally free of facts in support of Hillary Clinton: in other words, you’re operating, purely, from artificially-induced emotions. Shocking.

    This is your problem and it’s the problem of everyone who “thinks” like you: facts are the nasty things you swerve around. You’re in the grip of the cult of personality that’s driving Politics. Also, too many of you rip that “Progressive” mask off under fairly light stress… you’d like to think you’re better than the “ebil Republicans” but, in my experience, both sides can be barbarously vicious when crossed. You don’t tolerate real dissent. Stamp your feet and everything. Golly.

    I don’t mind… you’re not the world’s most effective flamer… but you don’t get to think of yourself as wiser, or more open-minded, or more informed or more clement or respectful, etc, than your ideological “enemies” because, in the end, you’re the same kind of touchy zealot, fanatical in nothing more noble than a mindless strain of brand loyalty. Imagine buying the same old tin of Catshit ™, over and over again, year in and year out, just because of the pretty picture on the tin! Ridiculous… and par for the course.

    HRC said good things about herself in her various speeches… that’s all you need, surely? And that charismatic old rapist Bill: he’s a card, is he not? Haiti certainly thinks so. Yeah, and Kosovo and so forth. Ask the late great Gary Webb what he found out about the Bushes and the Clintons, Toad. Read his book. Do *some* serious reading, okay?

    The public record reveals lots of disturbing Trump facts and lots, lots more (and of a greater magnitude) alarming HRC facts and the recent Wikileaks revelations added substantially to the unprosecuted charges against War Criminal HRC. Was the email leak a “Russian hack”? Who cares? Are the emails Real? HRC’s camp doesn’t go any further than accusing the Russians of hacking. A self-damningly passive defense, eh?

    Idea: do some reading on Jill Stein, Toad… do something constructive with that masturbatory rage of yours.

    Nothing personal! Not mad atcha, as they say.


  4. PS Is this the story collection you find to be “masturbatory”, Toad… ? There are definitely genitals sprinkled in it, here and there, but it’s mostly about the mad little quirks and foibles, with layering… (plus discreet autobiog bits: the ref to the Bali bombing of 2002 is based on the fact that a woman I was seeing at the time was blown up in that disco, for example)… if I promise to vote for Chelsea in 2036 will you recommend this collection to all your friends…?

  5. I should have clarified: “masturbatory fiction” refers not to fiction with lots of masturbating in it (though I’m sure you’ve dabbled in this genre), but rather fiction written solely so that the author can stroke his own ego/genitals to the quantity of hundred-dollar words he (it’s always a he) was able to utilize. Fiction that has nothing to say and no one to say it to. Fiction as a one-man echo chamber in which the author is constantly reminding himself of his genius and blaming The System for not recognizing it which manifests itself into vicious cycles of paranoia leading to an increasingly tenuous grip on reality for which the only salve is hate rhetoric and right-of-right wing conspiracy theories.

    Is that more clear?

  6. “Is that more clear?”

    Oh yes, Toad. Especially the “hate” part. Very clear indeed. And I think you and your new POTUS will prove to be a much better fit than you think. He’s probably pretty disdainful of “hundred dollar words” too! Laugh. You’re a little too vague (and emotional) as a “literary critic”, in my opinion, but as a summoner of irrationally disproportionate rage, you’re damn good! You should be out there with a baseball bat, menacing Trump voters! That would show ’em!

    So about HRC: did she or did she not play a part (with evil Bill and Daddy Bush) in starving 500,000 Iraqi kids to death? Or in the Blitzkrieging of Kosovo: was she out of the loop on Bill’s macho adventure there? And did she or did she not preside over the rape/murder of a foreign head of state (and laugh about it, on camera, afterwards)? Are brown lives less valuable than other lives, Toad… is that why it doesn’t matter that Bill and Hillary, separately and apart, have presided over the deaths of so many?

    How about the charges that HRC demonized rape victims to protect Bill, the serial rapist? Does HRC’s gender immunize her from the taint of the obvious evil of that politically expedient (sorry, but you’ll have to Google that word) maneuver?

    Can you rebut/ refute these damaging facts, or are you just going to stick to the simple flaming tactic of appealing to a populist fear/hatred of people who use “hundred-dollar words” (and what a charge to make on a supposed literary site, eh )?

    Let me know if all the words in this comment fall in your price range.

    “Fiction that has nothing to say and no one to say it to.”

    Nah, lots of literate people (even people who like 27-dollar words) have paid their respects to my writing. People like you hate and/or resent it, and there are many, many people like you… you are hardly unusual… but any writer who’s sensitive to that kind of thing won’t last very long at it. In fact, yeah: I find the disapproval that gushes from your type sort of energizing.

    Now I hope you won’t break my arms as I attempt to hug you…

  7. So, why not forget, for a moment, those two psychopaths Trump and Clinton, who are both deeply connected and beholden to the rancid system immiserating (if not killing) the nation and the planet… and think about something positive… and possible solutions… by considering the inspiring case of banker-arresting Iceland? (No, of course they didn’t nab *all* the bankers, or make all the ones they nabbed do hard time, but no one can claim that Iceland’s approach to punishing financial/political corruption is merely cosmetic):

    “When asked why Iceland was enjoying such a strong recovery while everyone else is still mired in debt, President Olafur Ragnar Grimmson said in 2013:

    “Why are the banks considered to be the holy churches of the modern economy? Why are private banks not like airlines and telecommunication companies and allowed to go bankrupt if they have been run in an irresponsible way? The theory that you have to bail out banks is a theory that you allow bankers enjoy for their own profit, their success, and then let ordinary people bear their failure through taxes and austerity. People in enlightened democracies are not going to accept that in the long run.”

    The movie on this page (linked below) is well worth watching, especially the wise words starting at 8:25: one Hordur Torfarson is worth 100 Hillary Trumps :

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