Man, it hurt to even write that title for this blog. President Trump.
It’s so goddamn hard to fathom. He’s only been president elect for 2 days so maybe I haven’t processed it yet. We as a nation have validated the worst of us: Greed, misogyny, xenophobia, racism, anti-intellectualism, lack of empathy, and a complete and utter disregard for the truth, the feelings of others, the planet we live on, or anything outside of his chattering self-obsessed mind. The abject dumbness and meanness of the campaign we have all been dragged through is astounding.
It’s even more difficult to comprehend our current state because he is unpredictable and reactionary. He lacks any discernible convictions (save maybe “winning”). I honestly don’t know what the future will hold. I think at the moment it’s unknowable. Will he follow through with any or all of his hastily scribbled agenda? What will congress allow him to do? Who will influence his decisions and plans in the coming months? How many supreme court vacancies will he have the opportunity to fill? What effect will his future decisions have on foreign relations or international markets? Was it all showmanship; hyperbole drummed up to ignite the masses and we will be pleasantly surprised? Unknowable. But it does not feel good.
What I know right now is that I’ve felt choked up with emotion more times in the last two days than I can remember feeling in a lifetime. I’m reminded of the night I learned that my dad had lymphoma in his belly. The outcome was completely uncertain but there was something rotten, poisonous, and deadly festering inside my dad. We had to prepare for the worst. The news sparked similar emotions: confusion, disbelief, uncertainty about the future, and a vague painful and empty feeling of, “This shouldn’t be happening”.
I mourn the standards of human decently that no longer seem to hold any public or political weight. I think of the laundry list of “disqualifying” actions, the history of misdeeds, and I’m at a loss. There used to be something called a “gaffe” when a candidate said something offensive, or inappropriate. One insensitive or uninformed remark would churn in the 24 hour news cycle for days. I would say that this man’s entire candidacy was one prolonged gaffe but, at some point, it stops becoming a gaffe and just becomes who you are. He incited violence at campaign rallies, mocked the disabled, bragged about sexually assaulting women, advocated for torture of families of accused terrorist, praised dictators, stiffed contractors, ran a fake university, and litigated at every possible opportunity. A Pulitzer prize winning fact checking organization rates his statements throughout his candidacy as 76% lies. The list goes on… and on. These aren’t politically correct grievances, they’re behaviors that disqualify you as a decent human being. No right minded parent would let a person with this history coach a softball team, or run a boy scouts meeting. Would you even hire the person I just described to fix your lawnmower? And we decided that this is the person we want in our country’s highest office. It’s dumbfounding, depressing, worrisome, and heartbreaking.
The last two days have brought more tears of joy and pride than sadness. Since awaking on the 9th I’ve been barraged by the beautiful light of the people in my life. My heart has swelled and bubbled into my throat at frequent intervals throughout the day. Something has been awoken or exposed. Something greater than the anger and frustration. My social feeds, text messages, emails, phone calls, and lunch discussions are filled with words of compassion, generosity, empathy, and love. People are hurt and angry but more, they are ready to fight for what’s right. A groundswell of passion ready to drown out vitriol with beauty, understanding, support, and action.
I am buoyed by peers; our strength and resolve. We awoke Wednesday morning knocked down and defeated. We cursed the road behind us and fretted about the road ahead, but only for a moment. Without missing a beat we collectively summoned an instinctual visceral resolve to fight. Fucking fight for what’s right.
The decision was unanimous and unquestioned that positivity and love is our only way forward. We’re not naive or dismissive of the difficult road ahead. We know it’s going to be painful. Things will not go our way. But we’ve decided to drown out the negative with positive. There have been protests. There will be more. But the greater response has been that of positive action. First to speak out for those whose identities were directly assaulted. To pick up and dust off those knocked down the hardest. Then came the calls to mobilize to the causes, organizations, and virtues that counter the bile. Most importantly, we feel the urge to be our best selves. We’ve decided to counter the validation of the worst of humanity with a bold bright display of the best of it.
In the face of the most disgusting hate-filled campaign we’ve seen in our lifetimes, we brought love. It would have been so easy to be angry and filled with more hate. That is how hate thrives and echoes. But we won’t let it. Overwhelming love and compassion pours through the words on my screens, the voices of my loved ones, and the faces of those I see every day. It fills my heart and mends my soul. I’m proud of my people.
So what now?
I am disappointed that roughly a quarter of Americans wanted this outcome (even more disappointed that HALF of Americans didn’t care either way and stayed home) but I also understand that the system is failing them. I know that the vast majority of the people that voted for Trump didn’t do so because they’re personally racist or misogynistic but because they’re hurting, they’re frustrated, and they felt like this was their only outlet. I agree with them about many of the problems, our government isn’t working, there’s too much money in politics, wages can’t support families, education and healthcare are still a mess, manufacturing jobs are going away, I just think that they haven’t been given the tools to see the solutions. I think they’ve voted against their interests but harboring anger towards them is self defeating. Thinking of them as “them” is probably wrong minded. They’re “us”: just people doing their best. Doing what they think is right and looking for security, success, and health for themselves and their families.
It’s time to get to work. Support the organizations and causes that seem threatened. Bask in the small victories: I think government works best at the local level and Colorado just elected Dems for House and Senate, approved hundreds of millions of dollars towards education, approved assisted suicide, and raised the minimum wage. Nevada legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and voted to require background checks for most gun purchases and transfers. Oregon elected the nation’s first openly LGBT governor. Washington raised its minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2020.
In California, voters legalized marijuana, enacted the nation’s first background checks for ammunition purchases, banned large-capacity gun magazines, increased the tax on cigarettes and vaping devices, reinstated bilingual education, boosted income taxes on the wealthy, and banned the sale of single-use plastic bags.Take solace that we’re not alone: Hillary won the popular vote, 60 million people feel your pain and see similar solutions to our shared problems.
Lastly, do something! Channel that negative energy into something good. A huge number of my friends have already donated to causes they see as threatened and booked volunteer days for their favorite organizations. I’m working with more friends to create an outlet for our positive energy. I’ll keep everyone updated on how that manifests.
In the meantime, reach out to loved ones. Reach out to strangers and those that hold different opinions. Keep your harsh judgements to yourself. Turn the anger, frustration, and fear into something beautiful and positive. Counter the validation of the worst of humanity with a bold bright display of the best of it.