Let me preface this with a statement of my own political position. I believe the election of Donald Trump is a disaster on many levels, and I will do whatever I can to limit his power while he is in office and remove him from power, by legitimate means, at the earliest possible moment, whether that is the 2020 election or some kind of political opportunity before that.
But I must address an issue particular to this blog: as is evident from my last post, I misinterpreted the Yi Jing.
When I consulted it on whether Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, it returned a reading that I took as a positive response. Yet the outcome was the very opposite of my interpretation. It is a temptation to say "the Yi Jing was wrong," but my understanding of that book, gleaned from conscientious practitioners, is that the Yi Jing is never "wrong," it is we who fail to understand it. It is in that spirit that I will return to the question in an attempt to discern my misunderstanding.
We might want to say that Hillary did, in fact, win the popular vote, and that is a significant thing. I would not, however, want to suggest that the Yi is out of touch with contemporary American political realities, most notably the Electoral College. For our purposes here we need to face this as a clear loss for Hillary.
Maybe the key point is this: when we face circumstances that are bad, unexpectedly bad, and that run against our expectations for the good, our first impulse should be one of self-reflection. What is it that I failed to see or do? This is something we should all do, all of the time, including Hillary herself. If we apply that question to the previous reading, certain ideas emerge.
The initial hexagram, number 5/Waiting, appeared to be positive. But, as I pointed out in the reading, there was this line: "Waiting. If you are sincere, you have light and success." And as I wrote then, and certainly as both Hillary haters and now even despondent Hillary supporters are no doubt repeating, the roots of the failure might lie in some facet of her insincerity. In some ways, this is an easy and obvious critique. Hillary was disingenuous and flip-floppy, something that was emphasized by her opponents, and this weakened her support among those constituencies that were expected to vote for her in greater numbers. There is obviously something to that criticism, which can be applied to most politicians, but it seems insufficient to me, especially when she was running against a person much, much more insincere than she.
Perhaps the next point, then, is that she, and I, did not sincerely understand just how many people would be willing to discount Trump's insincerity. I am seeing this pop up especially in foreign policy. Trump's "American First" rhetoric suggested that he would not engage in "foreign adventures" and, thus, would not lead the country into another war. Hillary was framed as more hawkish. Yes, she tried to suggest that he was too unstable to be trusted with the nuclear codes (there's something we all pray will turn out not to be true) but, despite her disavowals her vote to authorize the Iraq war is remembered by many people. It might go too far to characterize her as a neo-con, but she positioned herself in a manner to draw the support of neo-cons away from Trump. And Trump obliged. He hammered her on her Iraq war vote and, despite his "I love war" comment, his media operation warned that Hillary was the war-monger. And now we will see. I suspect that, in fact, Trump will turn out to be more hawkish than Hillary, he will be quicker to use military force if any "red lines" are crossed, and thus, we are more likely to find ourselves in a serious military confrontation. I may be wrong about that, but working through the massive inconsistencies of Trump's campaign rhetoric yields no firm conclusions, yet.
Most people do not vote primarily on foreign policy, but we might think of how on matters of domestic policy a similar dynamic played out: Trump's statements, however untrue and implausible, were, in fact, resonating more effectively than Hillary's. The growing frustration with rising costs of health insurance is relevant here.
So, Hillary lost, in part, because she discounted the reach and power of Trump's message, not so much as it was emanating from Trump, but as it was received by potential voters. Had she been more sincere in facing "things exactly as they are" (as the initial reading stated), she might have campaigned differently, spent more time earlier in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Or, maybe, it was never going to be possible for her to overcome the anger at the "establishment" that worked against her. It is beyond ironic, of course, that Trump somehow was able to frame himself as the anti-establishment candidate, and we will see the extent to which he is able to deliver on the implicit and explicit promises of that position, but, for now, for those of us searching for ways to rebuild a humane politics after the wreckage of this election, we must learn and look forward to more effective political listening and speaking in the future.
There was another hint of danger in the initial reading, another point that I overlooked. Hexagram 63/After Completion, which pointed to the emerging tendency, is generally a very favorable statement. I read it as such. But, as I noted, it also includes an element of caution. This might best be understood as a matter of timing. The hexagram suggests that everything is in its proper place, and a certain positive equilibrium has been achieved; the worry is that the only possibility, then, is decay. Think of the sun at noon: things cannot get brighter, they can only get darker. The timing issue is this: at what point has that positive equilibrium been reached and when does decay set it. My reading was that Hillary's successful election would be the moment when everything came together perfectly. What has happened, however, suggests that, perhaps, the moment of harmony had already been reached and decay was inevitable. That, certainly, is what has happened. In the run up to the election, with so many polls and analyses pointing to a Clinton victory, we did not realize just how dangerous the situation was, just how out of balance things were already becoming.
And so here we are. For those of us who care about equality - in all its aspects: political and economic and social - the world has fallen apart. The one big positive message that we can glean from the Yi Jing, however, is that when things lurch in one direction the inevitable movement of Way will gradually bring things back into balance. Nothing is inevitable. We will have to work to effect a better outcome. But there is a Way to a better Way.