A little more than two years ago, I launched a regular column that I named Purple Wednesday, a series that comes to a close today. The title post, “The Mo(u)rning After” riffed off the theme song for The Poseidon Adventure(1972), sung by an otherwise little-known singer named Maureen McGovern, was written a few hours after Donald Trump snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, running the table on Hillary Clinton in key Midwestern states by less than a total of 100,000 votes.
As I wrote that day,
The message of The Poseidon Adventure was that we must not give in to despair, even in our darkest hour. In order to save our own lives, we must come to terms with, and fight back against, the new reality. The challenges faced by those on The Poseidon are considerable: in the midst of dinner, the tsunami hits, and the passengers’ world literally turns upside down. Partygoers in formal wear find themselves sliding down a floor that first becomes a wall, and then a ceiling. Naturally panic and despair ensue. But a small group (played by actors like Shelley Winters, Gene Hackman, Red Buttons and Ernest Borgnine, who were famous for portraying “ordinary” people) coheres. They save their own lives by making their way to the ship’s hull, having intuited that the remaining oxygen will gather there, and they can perhaps survive long enough to be rescued.
Of course, this makes perfect sense as the S.S. Poseidon is upside down and everything in it is dropping into the sea. But not everyone can cope with the new reality. In one particularly grisly moment, our little band of heroes encounters a large group of surviving passengers, led by the ship’s doctor and remaining officer. Unquestioningly, they are walking towards the deck of the ship — which is, of course, becoming immersed at a rapid rate. We never see them again. Although the group does not make it to the hull with its membership intact, our friends do get there; they bang on the steel skin until rescuers cut through it to save them.
As the last Democratic victories are rolling in from the 2018 midterm elections, I would like to say: metaphorically, the blowtorches have cut through the hull, and the survivors of the 2016 Democratic blowout are blinking in the sunlight, ready to start again. What will happen next?
To read the last of my Purple Wednesday columns, published at Public Seminar on November 21 2018, click here.