Last night, I went to bed with hope. As of 11pm CST, the presidential race was still neck and neck. I figured that I might as well get a good night’s sleep and let it be. I was going to have to live with the consequences either way, why wait in anxiety?
I always knew this was going to be a tight race from the simple fact that DJT (no free Google results on my blog!) was not laughed out of the presidential race. It was clear from the beginning that the old rules of politics had been completely rejected. Unfortunately, it was the fruit of a poisoned tree that was planted during the Clinton presidency. Philandering with an intern was certainly immoral. But was a consensual affair between two adults worthy of an impeachment? Certainly not. And since then, politicians have been exposed for doing much worse. The impeachment failed, but the gauntlet had been thrown. The seeds of what would later become the Tea Party had been planted and taken root.
Bill Clinton was followed by two terms of a hawkish Republican during a time of domestic crisis. George W. Bush was regarded by many (including my teenage self) as a joke. But it is only now, faced with DJT, that I realize how much worse it could have been. Given the excesses of a deregulated Wall Street, I don’t think any president could have prevented the economic crash (although Bush’s actions afterward probably made it worse). Similarly, 9/11 was another misfortune that could not have been helped. But strains of white nationalism began creeping in. There was talk then (as there is now) of creating a Muslim registry. Anyone that dared to question the president, the wisdom of the war on terror, or the necessity of a law that gave carte blanche for our government to surveil us was deemed un-American. The fissure between the two parties turned into an all out divide. Washington has never been a place of reliable cooperation. But suddenly, the Democrats and the Republicans weren’t friendly rivals willing to agree to a flawed but tolerable middle ground. We were enemies.
The election and re-election of Barack Obama was, for many of us, a refreshing palate cleanser. He spoke about hope, and change, and unity. We believed the fact that he was an Ivy League educated, world traveling, community organizing, biracial Black man, raised by a single mother, meant that he was emblematic of the melting pot that America claims to be. He was born poor and worked his way up to becoming the most powerful man in the world. No matter your politics, you had to respect the man’s passion and reverence for our country and our government. Right? Wrong. The stain of racism has never been bleached away. And the internet revolution created, for liberals, a growing consciousness of just how many other -isms existed. Race and gender were just the start. It goes deeper, to xenophobia, implicit bias, rape culture, misogyny, white privilege, etc, etc, etc. To some folks it must surely have seemed as if their very whiteness had become a crime, something that had to be explained away rather than accepted and unknowingly traded for unearned power. But rather than recognize our shared humanity and attempt to reach across the aisle, Republicans doubled down on identity politics. Their party was the sole party of religion, family values, patriotism, and all things wholesome. By extension, Democrats had to be the opposite.
The liberal party in any country always has it harder. Conservative values across the globe have one thing in common– uniformity. That uniformity makes them a force to be reckoned with, because they will hold their nose and toe the party line before they become the weakest link by defecting to the enemy. By contrast, liberals worship their conscience and have no qualms abandoning the party vote. They despise “politics as usual”, and must always vote for something rather than against something else. The lack of pragmatism is hugely damaging, because they sacrifice long term coalition building for short term satisfaction and the ability to say “I told you so”.
I won’t recap the 2016 election cycle. Volumes have been written on it and we don’t yet know what a DJT presidency will bring. The best I can hope for is the maintenance of the status quo. I find it hard to believe that a pathological liar who says things like “Grab her by the p*ssy” will magically transform into a measured, rational statesman during his inauguration. I am deeply, bitterly disappointed that half of America is either racist, or finds it acceptable to vote for one (because any candidate who is endorsed by the KKK and does not immediately repudiate such an endorsement, is giving his stamp of approval to what they represent). I am disappointed that an eminently qualified female politician who has suffered a few lapses in judgment is somehow worse than a man who proudly states that he would date his own daughter, and mocks any and everyone not white, male and rich. I am disappointed that black lives matter less than white comfort. It’s true that God is with us. But He is not responsible for what happens to us on earth–we are. God was with us during slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust and Vietnam, Japanese internment camps and 9/11. But people died all the same.
Our government only works as long as we believe in it. It only takes a spark to start a fire that will burn our institutions to the ground. For all of those who voted for DJT but claim to reject his hateful speech, now is the time to prove it. Prove it by holding him accountable from here on out. The line has been drawn. Are you on the wrong side of history?