For those of you who are too young to have grown up on it, The Twilight Zone was a science fiction show that featured a shocker ending, typically in the form of a sudden reversal of perspective. There was one episode, for example, when an astronaut to Mars is welcomed by aliens who greet him warmly and offer him a comfortable Earth-like room with all the amenities. Everything seems wonderful until he notices a sign that says “Earthling in its natural habitat.” Then the wall drops open and he is stunned by the realization that he is actually in a zoo (see here).
Last night was a real life Twilight Zone shocker ending. There we were. My wife and I and all our friends were in an uptown Manhattan apartment expecting to watch Hillary declared the winner within the first hour – or two at most – before popping our champagne. As the first states went to Trump, many reassured us that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. Hillary did not need that state to win. As each subsequent state fell to Trump, we kept clinging to the next certain path to victory. When it finally became undeniably apparent that Hillary was out of paths to 270, the utterly stunned looks of shock and disbelief were every bit as profound as if we suddenly discovered we were actually exhibits in a Martian zoo.
This is the Twilight Zone ending of this long election cycle. All of us who opposed Trump lived under a delusion of absolute certainty that all those crazy Trump people were living in some artificial bubble created by Fox News. But suddenly we had to accept that is we who have been living in the bubble, not them. It is we who thoroughly denied the reality of a disillusioned, hurting, and profoundly desperate majority in America. It is we, including those in the media, whose bubble of relative affluence did not allow us appreciate or even imagine that too many of our fellow Americans are so fundamentally damaged by our system that disqualifiers like misogyny and all the rest are merely frivolous preoccupations of the privileged classes.
Those with all the power are always shocked and surprised when the “masses” rise up. Many slave-owners in the South were probably mystified to learn that there was so much discontent amongst their slaves. In every country when there is a popular revolution, the leaders and those who are well off live in their own bubble that only gets penetrated when the workers rise up in some form of Marxian revolt. They are always stunned and shocked.
That may be exactly what we have seen here. In recent decades SO much wealth has gone to the upper classes, siphoned by the rich like vampires directly from the life blood of the working class, that Karl Marx would be nodding his head saying “I told you so.” He would probably only be surprised that it took so long for reality to burst through our happy little bubble.