What have WE done?
It’d be real easy to just say “oh the people who voted for Trump are all xenophobic/racist/misogynistic/homophobic/(insert descriptor here)” because oh how many of us disappointed in this result want an easy answer to what just happened.
But I know that’s not entirely the case.
Sure, to varying degrees depending on where you live, those are totally factors in how this race played out. Not saying either hidden or (now) outright sentiments in those fashions didn’t play a role in this. But for us, as a nation, regardless of who we did or didn’t vote for, to think it’s as simple as that is a disservice to the populace as a whole. No, those factors, along with a whole host of things led to this. To think otherwise will be what keeps Trump in the White House for 8 years instead of 4.
Who DO we blame then? Probably everyone, everything. The “media”, the “establishment”, the “rise of the alt-right”, the DNC, the RNC, fresh new voting restrictions, voter apathy, third parties coming out almost exclusively every 4 years to try to upset the (very broken, mind you) 2-party system, the electoral college, Hillary, Wikileaks, the FBI, “political correctness”, “political uncorrectness”, the people on ALL sides who smugly told us it would be fine and there’s no way he’d get elected, the people that were underestimated, the rich, the poor, ourselves.
I spent my high school years at a school in arguably the center of “urban decay” in Las Vegas, and my college years in crumbling Appalachia. I’ve seen the fears and worries of the inner city and the rural midwest firsthand. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot different at their core: jobs, drugs, justice for those without the wealth to guarantee a good outcome, a growing concern that the very people they elected to help them would abandon them once in office. However, while the inner city I, in a sense, grew up in, eventually felt like they had someone in office they could trust (a well-loved teacher who lived in the area got elected to city councilman), the college town felt abandoned, and I couldn’t blame them.
To think Trump didn’t directly appeal to those anxieties and that abandonment is one of the great tragedies of this election. We’ve been so focused on emails this, outrageous quote that, on a Democratic primary that felt rigged in favor of a woman who seemed to embody everything about the “corrupt, smug, liberal elite establishment”, a clown car of GOP candidates, that we ignored a still large group of voters who had very real concerns. Sure, exit polling seems to imply that Trump did better with the wealthier crowd (because of course he did, his nearly non-existent tax policy favors them) than he did with the “working class” as a whole, the rural white vote was his without question. Was some of it because of the gross things he said and did? Of course. But to think his appeal was all just that to those people is laughable. He looked those people in the eye, people he could never related to, people whose shoes he could never imagine himself in, and told them “I will help you, and together we will be great”. And that’s the same kind of “Yes we can!”/”HOPE” that Obama instilled in people in 2008 and 2012. Just like many Obama voters didn’t want the drone strikes and continued war and NSA data gathering but went along for the optimism, there’s loads of Trump supporters who aren’t here for the sexism and the BUILD THAT WALL and the memes who genuinely think he can save them after BOTH parties seemingly left them behind. To be fair, Hillary did allude to this in her “basket of deplorables” speech, but the media was so focused on that chunk of it that they glossed over her outright stating he was appealing directly to them:
“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”
That’s not the only thing at play, of course. There are those who are ready for them sweet sweet tax breaks, those ready to roll back any and everything Obama did (except maybe the whole “spy on citizens thing”) during his presidency, those who revel in the fact that their absolutely disgusting opinions they at least had the decency to try to keep to themselves are now shared by our president elect, those who just couldn’t swallow the awful pill that was Hillary, those who said “don’t look at me I voted for a third party”. There was insistence of a rigged election, an absolute gutting of the Voting Rights Act that resulted in new voting restrictions (many deemed illegal) combined with voter intimidation, a never ending email scandal, all sorts of “goodies” from Wikileaks. A media circus who gave Trump so much airtime (no press is bad press) he didn’t need to worry about running ads, the rise of the alt-right who believe Trump will lead them to their “rightful” place of unquestionable power, pollsters and pundits who fanned the flames and led us into a false sense of security. A female candidate, who while undoubtedly qualified, carried such disdain from both parties that the people who could have voted unimpeded by aforementioned would rather have not been bothered at all (something like 45% of the eligible voting populace didn’t for whatever reason, and if those who had no restrictions in the way voted to the tune of 7% of that non-voting populace, Hillary probably would have won it. Dem turnout was abysmal compared to 2008 and 2012, with GOP turnout around the same numbers). People who kept insisting Trump and Clinton were the same and we were fucked either way. By whatever god you believe in, everything lined up just right and here we are. In a sense, a Trump election showed that democracy fucking works (in a Plato’s Republic, late-stage, “fall of democracy” sort of way, but still works).
This is not to say I am happy with a Trump victory. I voted for Hillary. I’m a half-white woman with pre-existing medical conditions, loads of LGBTQ and PoC friends and family, and a vagina, saddled by student loan debt. I cried last night, stressed out, tired, anxious. Not because I necessarily am afraid of Trump. He’s a shitty guy, with some shitty opinions, and no real plans for our country, but I don’t fear him as a president. No, I am afraid of what a GOP congress will allow Trump to do out of either loyalty or fear, and what he will let them do in return. The GOP party platform has little to offer me on any personal level outside of maybe less taxes (although I’d happily pay more to wake up from this nightmare scenario). However, it has loads for me to fear on both a federal and state level: a dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (which, while not perfect, had a lot of things I liked and benefited from!), a dedication to repealing gay marriage and the LGBTQ protections so very needed by precious friends of mine, a more militarized police force, increased civilian surveillance, and more! And the aftereffects! Oh boy, those too! A weakened dollar, stock futures getting shat on. Emboldened folks, ready to harass and cause harm to those who have the most to lose with this presidency (LGBTQ people, racial and religious minorities, women, etc). Dickbags ready to be bigger dickbags. Just what I could have wanted.
And I hope those people who think Trump will be their savior economically are proven right. At least they’ll have that. But I don’t think they will.Those manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back from China. Why would they? And if they did, we got robots and automation now. 10 guys and a dozen machines can do the work of entire factories in hours, not days. Gutted tax revenue means no great public works projects (which are both direly needed and would employ thousands, albeit temporarily). I don’t know what magic he might work, but for their sakes, I hope he does.
People keep telling me it’ll be okay, and I hope they’re fucking right. I shouldn’t have to come to terms with the fact that myself or someone I know will be hurt directly by the results of this election, whether by the government or by some jerk on the street. This reminds me of the Brexit vote all over again: people didn’t think it would happen and look what fuck did. People got too complacent and happy with poll numbers to do anything to ensure those would be result numbers. And people getting hurt in the aftermath. It’s already starting. I don’t wanna hear about your “healing the divide” and “we’ll get through this”. Not if you’re not willing to ensure we will, indeed, get through this. Not at the cost of the safety of my fellow Americans, my fellow human beings. If things start being not right, those people better be on the front goddamn lines to fix it. If you didn’t think “your America” could do this, you weren’t looking at the right America. For every “deplorable” Trump voter was one who just wanted a better life and was left behind by modern political parties. If “your America” didn’t include those folks, you were living in a bubble. The “silent majority” stood with Trump, not because they totally agree with him, but because he was willing to listen to them.
And if you think Bernie could have won it, I wish I had your optimism. He might have, I spent like 7 hours caucusing for him in the hopes he would. But I sincerely doubt the GOP would let a Jewish Socialist take the election without a fight, and that’s not to mention the factors of voting restrictions affecting him too, and apathy from more center-left, true center, and center-right voters who would have seen two extremes to decide between.
Midterms are November 8th, 2018. Take a good hard look at your congressmen and women, your state and local governments, and see what you can do to help or change them. Hell, run yourself for them even! And for the love of all the baby puppies and kitties in the world, do NOT stay home and not vote for midterms. Until 2020, they’re your best shot at stifling a president Trump if that’s what you hope to do.
This is our reality right now. And for many, it’s a bleak one. It’s okay to be scared, it’s okay to be worried. At the end of the day, Hillary won the popular vote, and that’s a small victory, if in only that it means a majority of voters don’t want to roll back policies and protections hard fought over the last 8 years. All I can do is offer my love and support, my dedication to vote in EVERY election, including midterms. My donations to groups I believe to be fighting the good fight for the most vulnerable of us. My kindness and respect to others (except definitely shitty people who wanna start shit because of our memelord-in-chief, fuck them and their MAGA hats and the hoverboards they rode in on). My hope that while for many, we may be starting down the darkest timeline, we don’t stay on it. I can’t predict if it’ll be okay, or to what degree it may or may not be, but I offer solace in that you’re not alone in this, no matter how shitty the world may get in the next few years.
PS: to people who are “freaked out and saddened by the election results” but spent basically right up until Election Day posting HILLARY AND TRUMP ARE SAME memes, fuck you friendo. Your complacency in the idea that enough other people would think Hillary is a better choice over Trump helped put us where we are.