I’ve never understood what it was like to lose one’s faith, until the day after the election.
I’ve always enjoyed a sense of comfort in the idea that most people believed in the same ideals that I did. To realize that I was mistaken, that I was in the minority, that hate triumphs over love, that evil triumphs over good…it broke me. When Donald Trump won the Presidency, I lost faith in people. I lost faith in our country. The villain had won. The Joker killed the Batman (Hillary was more like Aquaman, but you get my point). This was the dawn of Biff’s dystopian reality. This moment was fleeting and even though it has already passed, to even feel that way at all, no matter how temporary, was overwhelmingly depressing. I didn’t know what to do. You can laugh at me for feeling this way and tell me that I’m overreacting, that’s fair, but don’t pretend that this election doesn’t matter. That would only show that you don’t understand the true gravity of this situation. The President is not a figurehead. His/her decisions affect millions of people every day. When the President speaks, it has a profound effect, not only on the markets or the economy but as to whether people live or die. The President’s words and actions are triage. Billions of people are now in danger because of the irresponsible and reckless decision we just made. Just look at Syria or Libya or Vietnam or any other country where we have interfered or failed to interfere. Every action our government takes effects millions of people. This was not a reality contest. This was not about a protest vote. The Presidency is the most important position in the world and our country made this choice based on emotional, angry, gut-based reactions, rather than with rational and logical thinking/analysis.
It is evident from this election that people in this country are divided. We live in a fragmented country, with bubbles of communities isolated from one another, that make no effort to work together or understand how the other side lives and how they feel. This is true for liberals, urban elites, rural conservatives, for everybody (including me). This election has obliterated party politics as we know it. This election was not about political ideology, it was about class and race. Rural vs Urban. White vs non-White. Those who have benefited from the last eight years and those who have not. Clearly, Trump has tapped into something that the rest of us have been ignoring. This “silent majority” is so angry, so frustrated with the way their lives have been going, that they are willing to take a chance on a sociopathic, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, incompetent billionaire conman because he was the first and the only candidate that seemed to understand their middle-class, blue-collar values/economic worry. They were willing to look past all of his flaws on the desperate hope that he would change their lives for the better. That he would bring jobs back. This election was the result of economic anxiety and a rejection of typical politics. This election was a vote for a radical transformation of our political process and a vote against the “elites” (liberals, urban dwellers, PC culture, mainstream media, political leaders). It was about rejecting the political establishment, rejecting the status quo. This is about change, the same message that Obama used for his campaign. It was about fighting against the perceived corruption or the incessant evil of politics. It was about bringing jobs back and securing our borders. It was about fighting the “PC culture” and “safe spaces” that Trump supporters rail against and seem to hate more than anything else (I also have my own qualms with the political correctness war the Left has been waging). It was about “bringing the country back” to a time in which people like them had better jobs, better prospective futures. It was about all of this and it’s important that we talk about all of these things within the next four years.
We in the cities, we on the political left, we who aren’t part of this “silent majority” should have never underestimated the severity of white fragility. For the past few decades, the left has shamed white people for the problems that minorities face. Well guess what, it seems that they (I’m white FYI) didn’t like it very much. White people do not want to be shamed for the problems of others. Our country is founded on the idea that everyone can succeed if they just work hard enough. Democrats have rejected this idea, which is so central to American identity and instead, placed the blame for people’s financial struggles squarely on the shoulders of white and rich people. Trump voters seemingly do not care so much about the discussion of race or gender (because they’ve benefited from their own privilege and don’t want to give it up). Identity politics seems to have failed the Democrats, but it propelled the GOP into the most political power they’ve had in decades. The political Left/Democrats have placed so much emphasis on social justice that they/we have forgotten that people’s priorities are primarily about themselves, about their own family. “How can I put food on the table for my children?”. “Do I feel safe from extremist terrorism?”. “Am I being persecuted for my Christian religion?” (No, they’re not, but they do feel that way). We can laugh at these fears and mock them but that only drives their rage, their frustration. Calling them deplorables only emboldens them in their perceived victimhood, that they are under persecution by the liberal elites. Our social fabric has been changing very rapidly and many people were and are not ready for it (although, people are never ready for societal change). They feel that this change has been forced upon them. There is a vast sense of cultural and economic anxiety among working-class whites. These worries that they have are entirely understandable. I empathize with them. I think that I now, possibly, understand them to some degree, even though I believe they put their trust in the wrong person. While the Left focused their attention on the downtrodden, the poor, those that need help the most, they left a gaping hole of angry, white, disillusioned Americans that were/are looking for an answer. These are the people in the middle and not just the middle class, but I mean literally the middle. The middle of the country, the middle of ideology, middle-aged. Their jobs are being destroyed, dwindling away through automation, migrant workers, offshore jobs and Trump touched on all of that. He gave them an answer. He gave them hope. With statements such as “Build a wall” and “Ban all Muslims”, he spread xenophobic fear and placed blame on immigrants like so many demagogues before him to garner support, but these are still technically (proposed) solutions. The sad irony is that he himself was one of the many responsible for these problems. He uses offshore workers to make his ties and his campaign hats. He uses migrant workers to build his golf courses. Trump is not and will not be the last Populist politician who calls himself the savior of the “common people”. We have seen this time and time again in our own and the world’s history. Trump promises change but he is the wrong change agent. He had the right message for his voting base but he is the wrong messenger. Hopefully, next election, we will not forget the “silent majority”.
All of that being said, we cannot ignore the harsh truth that this election has brought to light.
The truth is that electing Donald Trump to the Presidency is a loud and clear validation of white (male) supremacy. I understand that many Trump supporters disagree about this. They feel that supporting Trump and his policies does not mean that they are racist/sexist. It is not inherently xenophobic to want broader immigration control. Voting against Hillary Clinton is not inherently misogynistic. Trump supporters voted against her because they believe that she is a corrupt lying, greedy politician. Anyone who has been in politics as long as Hillary has will earn them a lot of enemies. I understand all of that, I agree with and I respect that, but we are still talking about a man, Donald Trump, who is supported by the KKK. Trump hired Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart as his chief executive officer for his campaign and will probably put him in a cabinet post. By bringing this “alt-right” movement into the White House, Trump has willingly mainstreamed bigotry. Even though many of his supporters claim they did not vote for him out of bigotry, this is still a vote that many minorities will take to mean: “America is for white Christian males and everyone else can get the hell out!” There is no denying that. I understand that not every Trump supporter is racist or sexist, but this man willingly allowed it to prosper and used it to raise support for his campaign and that can’t be ignored. Furthermore, he has yet to apologize for his inflammatory remarks during the race and it’s very likely he never will. He is incapable of self-reflection and that is an extremely dangerous trait in a President.
I think it’s pretty clear, and many US Historians will agree with me, that Donald Trump is one of the worst Presidential candidates in US history. This is just my opinion of course, but I remain firm on that belief. In addition, we now have Mike Pence, a man who does not believe in abortion nor climate change nor science in general and who will now be one of the most powerful people in the world. This is because as Trump put it, he will be “in charge of foreign and domestic policy“. Trump does not care about anyone but himself. Trump does not understand the struggles of blue-collar America and he never will. He’s never had to worry about how he’s going to pay the bills. He’s been surrounded by comfort his entire life. It’s fair to argue that Hillary doesn’t understand either and I would agree with that. It is obvious that Hillary’s message just didn’t resonate with people (including her own voting base). I’m not saying that being financially well-off disqualifies a person to be President, it doesn’t, but to hold an opulent billionaire up as a savior of blue-collar middle America is entirely ridiculous. He is not their champion. He does not represent them. He was raised as a sheltered, detached, spoiled brat. He’s never donated a single dollar to charity. Not a single dollar of his 10 Billion (he’s not worth that, but he claims to be). You think this person will just all of the sudden become a kind-hearted person and conduct himself professionally when he’s in the White House?
This is a man devoid of all empathy. He is a vengeful, angry, ignorant, petty, human being with the temperament of a five-year-old. He has the attention span of a gnat. He has legitimized conspiracy theorists by peddling nonsensical, fictitious fake news stories as the truth. The truth is irrelevant to Trump. He is a pathological liar. Politico (a non-partisan political news organization) states that 70% of Trump’s claims was a lie. At one point in September during the campaign, Trump was recorded giving 87 erroneous statements in just 5 days. When the truth no longer has any meaning, how can he be held accountable? Trump is also incredibly lackadaisical towards the duties of a politician. This is a man who was going to pick Chris Christie as his Vice-President because he didn’t have the patience nor political foresight to vet other candidates. The only reason he chose Pence instead was because his campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort, lied to him and told him that their plane was broken, so they had no choice but to stay in Indiana for another day and meet Mike Pence. That is how he chose his VP.
Let’s not forget who this man really is:
- He was accused of sexually assaulting 14 woman
- He bragged about “grabbing a woman by the pussy”
- He never released his tax returns because he hasn’t paid taxes in decades.
- He pretended to be his own spokesperson for decades simply to brag about himself
- He is against the freedom of the press and forced reporters to a small, cornered off area whenever he spoke. He rallied his supporters to hate the media. He has tried to shut down the press even though they helped him get elected by making him so famous.
- He said that we should default on our national debt (any economist would tell you how catastrophic that would be)
- He tried to undermine the very foundation of our democracy by repeatedly claiming that the election was rigged and advocating for open rebellion if he lost
- Blames all bad trade deals on China when his merchandise is manufactured there
- Openly advocated for Russia aka a foreign government to intervene in our elections
- He called for a total shutdown and ban of all Muslims entering the country (which is illegal)
- He owned and operated Trump University and on November 28th, he will be due in court on November 28th to face charges of fraud. He will be going to trial, as a President-elect. All of those claims of Hillary’s corruption (regardless of if you think that’s true) and this man will be facing a trial for FRAUD!
- He has surrounded himself with neo-nazi sympathizers and is supported by David Duke
- He mocked a disabled reporter
- Most of his non-real estate companies/projects have gone bankrupt
- Owes millions of dollars to foreign banks, has properties around the world, and his business ties may prevent him from working for America’s best interests
You can proclaim that “we have to come together”, but we aren’t together, not yet. Republicans have spent the last decade doing everything in their power to ensure Obama couldn’t accomplish anything. They made it their mission to thwart his presidency. They rejected any supreme court nomination. They shut down the government! They refused to pass any bill. They held the Democratic party and Obama as hostages. This isn’t a partisan rant, this is the reality. They whined, yelled, and willingly attempted to undermine our democracy until they got their way and they were rewarded for it. Now they control all three branches of government. However, there is good news in all of this. For years, Republicans have blamed the Democrats for the problems we face as a nation. Now that they control the government, they will have to come up with actual solutions and if/when they fail (and they will fail), they will be the ones held responsible. I hope that I am wrong. I hope he’s the best President we’ve ever had, I really do. I want us to come together. I want people to start empathizing once again. I know that insulting our President-Elect isn’t a great first step, but we cannot ignore the things that he’s said and done. That’s disrespectful to all the people that he’s hurt. If Trump comes out, apologizes for his rhetoric and puts together a diverse cabinet, I will be the first one to apologize. I’ll gladly say I was wrong, I just don’t think that will happen though.
Those who supported Bernie have to be remorseful that their candidate didn’t get a chance. I was hard on Bernie because I had ideological differences with him. His supporters will say that he could have won since he had all the momentum. Although, he lost the primary so who’s to say? What I do know is that Democrats have to get people engaged again. Hillary and the Democratic party need to do some real soul-searching about what their base wants. On the bright side, Hillary won the popular vote, so at least there are still many people who reject what Donald Trump stands for. We need to remember that there was a time when black people couldn’t attend the same school as white people. There was a time when women like Susan B. Anthony couldn’t vote. There was a time when gay marriage was still illegal, just a few years ago. We need to remember that these champions of social progress, who faced overwhelming odds, were still able to fight injustice every single day. We need to remember our ancestors, including my great-grandmother, who came to America after escaping horrible situations, far worse situations than the one we face today. I empathize with anyone who feels afraid right now, but we can get through this. If we want to change things and bring back the social justice progress that we worked so hard for, we cannot sit back and do nothing. We have to do more than just posting statuses, complaining online, and/or writing think-pieces, which I am insanely guilty of doing. We have to actually volunteer. We have to work, actually WORK, for social progress. We have to reach out to those that voted for Trump and give them a better candidate. We must try to understand how all Americans feel. We all need to do more than what we are doing now. It is the only way.
Bonus: Michael Moore is just so spot on here regarding the anger that Trump supporters feel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz3jWJVsErc