Nearly two decades ago, "The Simpsons" aired one of my favorite episodes, "Trash of the Titans," featuring Steve Martin playing the role of Springfield Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson, a dedicated, competent public servant. I realize this may not seem immediately relevant this morning, but hear me out.After squabbling with local garbage collectors, Homer Simpson grew to hate Patterson, and confronted the sanitation commissioner at his office, throwing around ignorant, self-gratifying nonsense. "I came to fight city hall," Simpson declared, despite having no idea what he was talking about. "I want to shake things up, Patterson. Stir up some controversy, rattle a few cages."Patterson, eager to get back to work, tried to be reasonable, but soon grew impatient, telling Simpson, "Nobody wants to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent!""Oh, we'll see about that!" Simpson responded, deciding to run against Patterson in the next election, assuming locals would very much like to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent.Soon after, the two had a debate, which to Patterson's great frustration, descended into farcical incoherence, with Simpson making ridiculous promises and displaying profound ignorance. "All right, fine," Patterson eventually told voters. "If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises ... then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic."Moments later, we learned that voters had elected the sleazy lunatic.Of course, the results were disastrous, and the people of Springfield quickly realized they'd made a terrible mistake. At a town meeting, voters fired Simpson and agreed to give Patterson his job back.Except, by that point, it was too late. "Oh gosh," Patterson said, feigning appreciation. "You know, I'm not much on speeches, but it's so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you've made. You're screwed. Thank you. Bye."America, I have some bad news for you. Your fellow citizens were given a very similar choice in this year's presidential election. They did not choose wisely.And to paraphrase the wise words of former Springfield Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson, we're screwed.Last night's results suggest such reflection is unlikely, but I hope many Americans pause to remember this day. It's the day that will change everything, the day that will set the country and the world on a new, frightening course, from which there may be no recovery.The day in which we had a choice -- and we chose tragedy.The American experiment has faced all kinds of challenges, but I don't think it's hyperbolic in the slightest to say it's never faced a test as dangerous as Donald Trump's presidency.Let no one say we weren't warned.Postscript: In the short term, I don't envy America's parents this morning. It will be challenging, to put it mildly, to explain to kids that even if they don't work hard, even if they don't treat people with decency and respect, even if they lie uncontrollably, they can still become president of the United States.
IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.