Love Lost. Now Let’s Get to Work

Art by Steve Ponzo

To the very end, we underestimated the surge that propelled Trump to this level—and we paid dearly for it.  But now is not the time for sulking.

 

This was a statement vote. The GOP reflected the frequency of the national electorate and, against all logic selected a candidate who stood as an opposing force to our traditional and safe trajectory.

The democrats almost did the same thing, but instead, they went with the opposite. They played it safe and were unceremoniously crushed under a boot they (and all of us who were covering this election) really should’ve seen coming. Bernie Sanders was the other side of this coin, the inclusionary yin to Trump’s exclusionary yang.  While there’s no way of knowing how a Sanders v. Trump race would’ve gone, one can’t dispute that Sanders would’ve been able to tap into the outsider demographic more effectively than Clinton. And there’s no doubt that his stance on trade would’ve resonated on a deeper level.

This was an unconventional election and the democrats elected a conventional candidate.  The most conventional candidate in fact.  The DNC misread the country completely.  What they thought was a vocal minority was a full-fledged movement.  Hillary Clinton’s candidacy never aligned itself with the undulating narrative circumnavigating our republic.  In stature, it stood in direction opposition to it: a last bastion of generic establishment protocol.

And the racial elements at work here are front and center.  Bigoted white men were not about to let the “other” encroach on their territory.  They felt the grasp of the country slipping away and dispersing, growing broader and more colorful, and they revolted in an attempt to desaturate the nation.

It worked in electing their candidate, but we, as citizens of this country can do our best to ensure that’s as far as it goes.  We can and must fight—crawling under a rock and weeping helps no one (although it’s perfectly acceptable for the next few days.)

Trump is as dangerous, racist, childish, misogynistic and petulant a man as we’ve ever seen on this stage. His adolescent temperament, lack of intellectual fortitude, thinly veiled white-power rhetoric and wildly inarticulate nature had us all thinking: there’s no way this will happen—he can’t win.  Not in our country. All of us writers within our cozy little data-rich, liberal bubbles were so sure his unprecedented primary surge was a product of a fractured and weak GOP field.

It was more than that.  The media and pretty much everyone with an “informed” opinion were wrong.  Very wrong.

 

The anti-establishment push is real, anti-intellectualism cannot be ignored, and this white nationalist revolt is significant and terrifying.

Trump is a demagogue. He uses fear to divide us and he offers substance-less solutions to valid problems. But he tapped into something visceral – and we underestimated his widespread appeal. We underestimated America’s penchant for hate.

Personally, I just never thought my country would elect someone this openly racist, hateful and ridiculous.

I fear for our immigrant population, I fear for our planet, I fear for U.S. Muslims, I fear for women, I fear for the LGBTQ+ community; I fear that all the social progress we made over the last few years will be erased and we will regress back to the 1950s.

As of this moment, I’m ashamed of my country.

I’m ashamed that our first black president, an intelligent man with more tact and grace in a strand of his rapidly graying hair than Trump could ever hope to have in the entirely of his being and aura, has to hand over the keys to a person who questioned his status as a citizen.  The presidency of Barack Obama renewed my pride in being an American.  I disagreed with plenty, but I always had faith in him, faith in his heart and his intellect and what he stood for.  I believe history will be kind to the Obama presidency, and now we can only hope that Trump doesn’t dismantle his achievements.

But we’ve been through rough times before. I for one am choosing to be emboldened—inspired even.  I will keep writing, keep researching and digging and continue advocating for the things I believe in. And everyone who is appalled at the fact that this man will be our president should do the same.  This is not the time to lie down, this is the time to be present and active.  It’s the time to volunteer, to protest, to take action, to prove that this is not who we are. Donate to Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ+ organizations, the ACLU, climate change advocacy groups, Amnesty International et.al.

Here’s a great breakdown of a few things you can do right now.

We are not Donald Trump.

Trumpism will only reign if we let it reign.

Intolerance will only spread if we let it spread.

We must transcend this catastrophic mistake and work to change things at the local level on up.  Hate may have won the day; a flag has been planted but they haven’t conquered shit yet.

This is a sad day for our democracy, our country and marginalized people in it, and our planet.  But we’ll get through it. Hillary absolutely crushed Trump in the millennial vote, things are trending in the direction of progress —believe it or not. Let’s make sure this is the final breath of intolerance in this country, one final flare before the fizzle.

And who knows, maybe Trump will surprise us. Maybe there is a compassionate and measured person somewhere in there. But if there’s not, we’ll be there to fight.

The democratic establishment is dead.  It’s time for something else to rise in its place.

Let’s get to work.

PS. A bright side courtesy of rapper/producer EL-P of Company Flow and Run the Jewels.

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