In a stunning election determined largely by the white vote, I found silver lining in the fact that the whitest city in America – Portland – voted heavily against the guy from The Apprentice, favoring actual politicians in this political race. I struggle to find much more silver in the grey cloud.
This morning Americans joined the UK in this “Western Fall” of sorts, finally decrying centuries of imperialism, cronyism and elitism in government… but for absolutely all the wrong reasons. 8 years of growing Black confidence, improved LGBTQ protections, increased environmental controls, expanded women’s reproductive rights and the decrease of conservative white cultural dominance has been all too much for an apparently huge swath of modern society. Perhaps there weren’t enough white supremacists to win the vote, nor enough homophobes, nor enough coal miners… but together, united, the greivances of an underrepresented many culminated in the election of a sketchy businessman with terrible hair and the temperment of a middle-school jock. Conservative white folks in particular have had enough of liberals and minorities tainting their legacies, dominating the media and re-writing the history books with a broader view.
Many across the nation ignored that their establishment choice was a deeply flawed candidate and have been quick to blame non-voters and third-party voters – themselves disenfranchised by a political system that talks a big and does little – for a GOP win that gives them full control of the White House, House, Senate and perhaps even the Supreme Court. Such blame ignores that nearly 60 MILLION people allegedly cast ballots for a bigot coddler. Perhaps more importantly, it ignores that the beleaguered former Secretary of State was not the popular choice, a reality that puts the DNC in the hot seat for promoting and nominating a candidate with whom so many fail to connect with. Through the lens of the constant and often incessant reporting from a paid a national media rooted in liberal cities it seemed the DNC’s primary candidate would win easily, but this only further galvanized right-wing voters against a complacent opposition. In short, the Democrats presumed victory inevitable and lost an extremely negative campaign that focused on a path to making history by voting against Republicans, rather than giving people tangible policy to vote for.
So here we are. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America. The guy who sells second rate ties made in China via his personal brand at Macy’s now commands our military. His tempered acceptance speech gave calm to some as he backed away from most of his more devisive rhetoric, while simueltaneusly striking extreme fear on the hearts of many as he introduced his key supporters, such as Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, that scary Skeletor looking lady from CNN, and Ben Carson – all of whom will be vying for positions in the Trumpian Administration. Perhaps no one in his inner circle though is more feared than VP-elect Mike Pence, who’s already successfully implemented anti-LGBTQ legislation in his sleepy home state of Indiana and will almost certainly serve as Trump’s tour guide through the political arena as they quietly repeal the protections – both social and industrial – that so many citizens enjoy.
I hate to say this but we’ve been here before. My mom told me last night that this reminds her of the late ‘60s, “It’s almost exactly the same,” she told me by phone. For me, it’s comparable to the year 2000, when we decided via electoral college that we wanted Bush II to navigate us into the new millenium. The pain the last unqualified Republican to run for office and win via Florida did bring us The Chappelle Show, Kanye West (who has to be seriously considering a 2020 run now) and The Boondocks, but not until he’d completely failed to prevent or avenge the events of 9/11 whilst completely ravaging the national budget and kickstarting the erosion of public faith in federal elections. What Trump & Company will manage to do in office with the 4 years they are guaranteed is still a mystery, but if partisanship remains as strong as it has been for the past 8 years, they could have a very (counter?) productive term.
I don’t need to remind you that the potential social fallout is as disheartening as the legislative loss. 60 million people allegedly voted for an unqualified candidate that ran on a campaign of fear and exclusion, emboldening hate groups, radical evangelists, abusive police, and general douchebags. As we wait for the inevitable rise in hate crimes that will primarily target Muslim women, LGBTQ individuals and Latinxs, the social reactions will likely be as ferocious as ever, and we’ll see what the Trumpian “law-and-order” response looks like
I’d love to deliver a “love everyone and keep hope” message to close this essay, but honestly, I’m already past the Acceptance and Grieving phases. It’s time to get ready. We have less than 3 months until Trump takes office on January 20th, and Twitter jokes – however thereputic as they may be – are not about to save us. State rights will be a big part of the Trumpian Era, so make your local elections matter. I wrote in Teressa Raiford for Multnomah County Sheriff, but let’s be honest, we could probably have taken that seat if she’d actually ran on the official ballot, so let’s make smarter runs at uncontested seats in typically quiet conservative holdouts going forward.
Beyond that, we need to educate ourselves. Stop relying on Twitter and CNN and visit the library every once in while. Read news sites that don’t cater to your preferred politics, and then analyze what you read for content instead of taking it at face value. Stop sharing fake stories about the candidate(s) you don’t like. Stop ignoring stories about the candidate you do like. Stop supporting brands that don’t support you, and by all means buy local whenever possible. Start talking to people with differing views instead of blocking them on Facebook. Let’s make childrens’ education a priority so that we don’t raise a generation as wool-laden as our own. Let’s stop living in a drug-fueled haze while Big Pharma profits from our medicated indifference. Let’s start paying attention to what’s actually going on outside of our country. Let’s continue to be loud and bold and vocal, but let’s add a layer of calculation to our efforts. Let’s work to undo this trash 2-party system that continually ignores the candidates we want in favor of those commited to agendas we’re not even privy to.
If there’s anymore silver to be found, it’s up to us to produce it. America is begging for direction. The people have spoken and the almighty proverbial Bubble has been popped. This IS democracy. There’s no more excuses. We can see clearly now, the rain is gone. Every challenge presents an opportunity, and for at least the next 4 years, the potential for opportunity will be great.
I’m not so sure about America though.