The Path Ahead

Author and radio personality Garrison Keillor took to pen and wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on Wednesday. Like many other political commentators, Keillor discussed the 2016 presidential results. Like few, Keillor infused wisdom and hope with some hardcore reality.

“So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out, and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting “Lock her up” — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted “Stronger Together.” It just doesn’t chant.

The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple of six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera-goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth. “

Keillor writes the Trump voters will see that the disasters he will bring onto this country will  “fall more heavily on them than anyone else,” and adds that those “uneducated white males” will not like what happens next. He says, ”Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity,” and Keillor writes he believes America is still the land where “the waitress’s kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians—but whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.”

“We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long , brisk walk and smell the roses.”

The left-leading NPR legend talks about the cruelty and the bullying many of us witnessed or experienced as school children on the playgrounds, but by our 20’s we should all be “done with cruelty.” Yet,  Donald Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. Keillor says Trump won on fear and bile and that will make a great study on political pathologists, but adds even Trump’s own voters are tired of  him and he is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Herbert Hoover. “His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows?” Keillor adds Trump supporters voted for change, “and boy, are they going to get it.”

In conclusion, Garrison Keillor brings us back to the goodness in America and in the human spirit as he talks about two of his former teachers:

“Back to real life. I went up to my home town the other day and ran into my gym teacher, Stan Nelson, looking good at 96. He commanded a landing craft at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and never said a word about it back then, just made us do chin-ups whether we wanted to or not. I saw my biology teacher Lyle Bradley, a Marine pilot in the Korean War, still going bird-watching in his 90s. I was not a good student then, but I am studying both of them now. They have seen it all and are still optimistic. The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The future is scary. Let the uneducated have their day. I am now going to pay more attention to teachers. 


Something about Keillor’s last line gave me a gush of hope. And being still shell-shocked from the election, most of us will take optimism wherever we can get it. Thank you, Garrison Keillor.




While I don’t agree with everything Keillor said. I like the optimism in his article’. As liberals, we need a dose or ten of optimism to make it through the next four years. The working class white male feels we left him behind. If he is behind, is that because his white male privilege made him think the world shouldn’t change to advance others as well as him, so he didn’t take advantages of the new opportunities in the world, didn’t take the chance to make himself improve with the rest of us?  I know too many white men — I am related to too many white men — who believe that they are simply, by the right of their sex and color, entitled to a good job and a good life, and they should not have to work for it.  I am not saying this is true of all white men — I do not believe in any stereotype, as those of you have been reading me for years hopefully know — but I do find it true of many white men, and I suspect these are the white men who voted for Trump.


The American Dream is still here for all who want to chase it. It is going to be a rough road for all but we come from tough stock. We came from immigrant stock or others who were marginalized. We overcame obstacles over the journey of our lives. The is an obstacle or series of land mines we must maneuver around.


Does this mean we should ignore the plight or suffering of others? No. Does it mean we should stand by and simply watch another being attacked on the streets? No. We need to be resourceful. If you are in school, finish your degrees. You need them. At work, get that promotion. You will need it. Spare time? Volunteer at a Domestic Violence shelter, the library, a rehab hospital. Perhaps at your neighborhood rec center, or food bank or homeless shelter.

Take the high road and help whoever needs help. This is what we have been talking to conservatives about for thirty years. One or ten of you could become the next Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, or Abraham Lincoln.  You could become the next Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Ruth Ginsberg, or Michelle Obama. You could be the next Langston Hughes, Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker or Gandhi. Put the ideal of what you want to become in front of you and make it come true. Then, turn around and pull others up to join you.

I have a few words for those who did not vote. If you did not vote due to apathy, complacence, or simple laziness, I hope this is the last time you don’t vote. The vote is a gift, if you will, the Founding Fathers, left to future generations. Half of the American people didn’t vote. You are going to have to ride this same boat with the rest of us.


Bless America and all Americans