Thursday, November 10, 2016
In the Wake of Election 2016
Well, this is the strangest twenty-four hour period I can recall in quite a while.
I've been steering clear of talking too much because so much has already been said, and, what have I got to add at this point? I've not been engaging with folks much online - I don't really know how to respond. I'm used to seeing my candidates take it on the chin - I live in Texas after all - but I'd bought the pollsters telling me how this was gonna go, and I kind of figured enough of America knew a boorish charlatan when they saw one, and we were going to see a bit of grudging sanity play out.
Millions of Americans voted for the candidate with the KKK endorsement with a pending rape trial and a record of being basically a terrible human being.
Not all conservatives were Trump supporters. From a reader or three of this site to conservative journalists to poor 'ol Megyn Kelly - I know Trump didn't get your vote.
The weaknesses of Hillary Clinton as a candidate were numerous, and likely began and ended with the fact that you could point to her presence in politics on the national stage since I was a junior in high school, and she'd been reviled by a wide rainbow of conservatives the entire time, and in the past decade primarily for a series of charges that - equally applied - should have put the last administration in jail.
Trump promised a lot of repealing of imperfect but needed policy, reckless changes to the infrastructure, belligerent military strategy, and changes to immigration that will likely leave small businesses in the south bankrupt as inexpensive labor would dry up overnight. He's emboldened everyone from David Duke to backwoodsy militia-nuts. We're already seeing folks deciding this means that they "won" some culture war and it's time to get racist. They'll show their stripes and we'll at least be able to pick them out of a crowd.
But I also feel compelled to mention - The America we enjoy? This is an unprecedented time, an unprecedented place, and most of us have never had to lift a finger to enjoy the fruits of the works that have led up to an America where we (should) believe everyone can vote, own property, speak freely.
I'm 41 years old and I grew up in an era after the Civil Rights movement had secured many important victories. I've lived in a world with Title IX, women's suffrage, and a few goes at the ERA. I got to hear about people like MLK, Cesar Chavez, Barbara Jordan as people who'd already succeeded. Stonewall was years before my birth, but I've been able to see a massive shift in cultural acceptance and legal rights for LGBQT folks in ways I couldn't imagine back in high school.
But I also know that for most of human history - this sort of thing is an anomaly. Most of human history is militant nationalism, rolling over other people, terrifying and persecuting anyone who is different and exploiting whole races and classes of people. That's everywhere. I think of the Suffragettes here and abroad, and what they had to work towards and it was no easy path. I think of the Abolitionists of all colors, and how every election from before the U.S. Constitution was a vote in frustration, but a ballot cast nonetheless. Of the Hispanic people who were institutionalized as second class citizens, their land taken, and still they got up and tried again and again.
People came before us. They got the job done. They created the new normal. We can do it, too.
So - what to do?
I understand why the young folks are taking to the streets to protest. I really do. But I also know that were the places reversed and Trump supporters were out there, I'd be both spooked and angry. And, there's really nothing to say that they won't be taking to the streets in response (and likely armed). So, while I like the show of defiance - if you're marching just to show your faces and remind the world not everyone agrees with the President-elect - I'm with you. But I'm trying to find the balance and remember that our democratic process is based around peaceful transfers of power between elected officials. You're not going to find me protesting democracy or republicanism. We settle that at the ballot box.
But we also settle it with words and actions.
I'm going to remember that a whole lot of people who looked a whole lot like me were the same folks who put Trump in office. Straight white dudes living in Texas are not gonna be the ones who need to be telling anyone how to live their life right now, so:
What I am going to do is stay vigilant. Because if there was ever a time to be on alert and keep an eye out for someone in need, that time is now. Whether it's with words or actions I can take, I want to be ready. Because already we're seeing the graffiti, hate speech and intimidation that comes from cowards taking advantage of a moment. In this moment, we've got to be better. Silence will be taken as assent.
If our racist family members could spend the past eight years on facebook trying to drag us back to the 19th Century, we can annoy them all the more by reminding them who they elected and the very real problems that are going to stem from his Presidency (and God help us as his appointees look to be a clown car of chuckleheads). We can speak up for people who aren't in the room. We can stand with people we see being intimidated or harassed (and this will happen). Don't let the moment pass, don't go home and think of all the things you wish you'd done or said to that bully.
They're gonna push back and it's going to get worse before it gets better, but let them know, and let yourself be the ringing at the back of their mind when they're about to say that thing or make that facebook post.
Let's hope for a candidate who can inspire, remind people of what can be and who provides a path forward for all Americans, including the frustrated people between the cities. Someone who understands that there are always radicals, always criminals, but you show your own true colors when you seek to condemn a whole people. Support and speak up for the LGBTQ community. Support the disabled, for whom the safety net of social services is now in a precarious place. Let's let America continue to be for immigrants and those of us born to her shores alike. That's always been our strength. Let's back women so they can live without fear, with inclusion, and to break glass ceilings over and over.
We do this, it doesn't matter who is in the White House today or in Congress or the Supreme Court. We'll remind them we're out here. We own America as much as they do and we're not giving up. We can do the work again and keep on moving.
Here's to a better tomorrow.