As I’ve told all who will listen, the strangest thing about this election, to me, has been less that my country might be going totalitarian (I’ve read enough Hannah Arendt to know that such things, unfortunately, happen) as who that would-be totalitarian leader is. It’s not someone like Mike Huckabee, who had long been my least-favorite politician, but… yup.
All time is one. Donald Trump, who emanates 1980s, is running for president against Hillary Clinton, who evokes (and weirdly stands accused of) the 1990s. Tinsley Mortimer, a socialite who suggests I’m not sure exactly which year, is now back on the scene. A Sarah Jessica Parker protagonist’s love life is on HBO. These are confusing times to be an old-millennial, and they’ve gotten that much more baffling as a long-forgotten tragedy, the murder of Chandra Levy, has made its way back into the news.
The problem, Americans had heard for years, was that we, unlike our more sophisticated counterparts across the Atlantic, expected puritanical saintliness from our politicians. Why couldn’t we just (tosses neck-scarf) look the other way, and focus on our leaders’ ability to do the job?
When I noticed the other day that Liz Meriwether had recommended Agatha Christie’s Poirot as an “antidote to the 2016 election” in New York Magazine back in August, I had one of those moments where you can deeply, personally, relate to an article. Here is Meriwether, on fictional private detective Hercule Poirot’s signature mustache:
At the beginning of October, protestors in Poland, dressed in black, successfully prevented that nation’s government from turning already-restrictive abortion laws into a ban. Earlier this week, protestors took on the latest proposal from this strongly Catholic country: a restriction on abortion even in cases where the fetus would not survive, or is severely deformed. The idea is to allow the fetus to make its way into the world (that is, to compel the woman carrying that fetus to give birth) so that there would be time for the baby to be baptized and then buried.