I wrote this piece on Election night as a way to try and understand what had happened. My understanding has deepened over time, and I have other thoughts about Trump’s rise now, but this was my initial reaction.
This was my first opportunity to vote in a US election. I was honored to be a part of this democratic process in my adopted country which I have grown to love. I was excited to be voting for Clinton because I respect and admire her 30 years of public service. I believed she was irrevocably qualified for the job. The fact that she is a woman made this moment feel personally significant, electric … glass shattering. I was so filled with hope and happy anticipation at the prospect of living here and raising my kids under her leadership after 8 good years of Obama administration.
Now I lay here feeling hopeless. How can I tell my daughter that Trump is her President? How can I tell my son?
I try to understand it. I’m trying to not tremble with anger. I’ve been crying intermittently and then sort of fall back into incomprehension. I am trying to figure this out.
So – right now, this is what I can make of it …
People were influenced by populist rhetoric enthusiastically pumped out to the masses via Fox News and other mainstream media.
They were influenced by social media where all they encountered were lies about Clinton because their newsfeed was tailored to them, and they didn’t really understand what she was offering. They were not exposed to the information that may have swayed them to vote for her. They didn’t understand the inherent danger in a Trump presidency. They were manipulated by fake news articles and memes.
Of course they were also influenced by their own emotions, experiences and established political views. Some were desperate and angry wanting life to be better, although I don’t believe socio-economics was the primary reason why people voted for Trump. Nationally unemployment is down, the economy is growing, the deficit is down and most Trump supporters are doing better than most in the world materially.
There were other reasons.
Some were greedy for more wealth at the expense of others. Some were motivated by racism, misogyny, homophobia, religion and fear. Anti-intellectualism also played a role in their disdain for Clinton. Some claim that people were tired of “establishment” politicians and voted for someone they perceived to be outside of a political circus they deemed corrupt.
Some pundits are now blaming the Democrats for not ‘hearing” the people, but I think that the main thing that the Democrats did wrong strategically was to underestimate just how unready this country was to vote in a woman.
If you have millions ready to elect someone so low, crooked and irrevocably unqualified into the Oval office, what could the Democrats do? How could they convince these people to change sides? It wasn’t that they didn’t listen. They heard them loud and clear but Democrats would not and could not pander to their cries to build walls and ban Muslims. Democrats could not appease their desire to “make America great again” by proposing racist, misogynistic and homophobic policies.
Common decency wasn’t enough to persuade millions of Americans to vote against Trump. If these supporters are not personally affronted by everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth, how on earth can you appeal to them from a place of intelligence, compassion, social justice and progressive ideals? Even challenging them from the perspective of conservative family values didn’t work. They are not about that. Trump’s supporters want to spend millions on building a wall between the States and Mexico, stop all Muslims from entering the country, deport undocumented immigrants regardless of how much they are a part of the fabric of our communities and economy, undo the right of same sex couples to marry, remove a woman’s reproductive rights, push against taxing the very wealthy to provide for the broader community, and they don’t believe that climate change is real.
How could the Democrats listen to that and tailor their campaign to accommodate demands of this nature? Well Trump did and he won the election but that’s not who millions of us are. We are not that.
Bottom line is that these voters want us to go back to a time where discrimination is OK, hate is OK, fear mongering is OK, and sexually assaulting women is OK.
Well, that is fucked up and I am devastated.
Trump supporters didn’t care if what he claimed he would do was realistically achievable or not. They were swept along by his filthy rhetoric. He spoke a language that they understood. His hate resonated with them.
Watching Trump and his supporters at Trump rallies was very telling.
I watched a video today of him speaking to and about a young boy with cerebral palsy and his mother who were protesting his treatment of people with disabilities at one of his rallies. He mocked the boy. He had a look of nastiness and utter contempt on his face as he ordered the boy and his mother out of his rally. The man is a horrible human being and as he spoke and behaved this way his supporters cheered and jeered.
And soon he will be our President.
The media treated him like some sick novelty. He attracted attention and they lapped him up and spewed him out to the people while rubbishing his opponent, propagating lies about her and raising doubts about her trustworthiness despite the facts and evidence that disproved all their false allegations. Seriously disgusting sites like Infowars run by Alex Jones did so much damage to her campaign. This site feverishly cast aspersions on her character, called her a murderer, a criminal. His site includes footage of him ranting, screaming and crying about the evilness of Hillary Clinton. It is beyond bizarre but many Trump supporters think he is a swell guy.
While I try to process this, another thought comes to mind. Many people didn’t vote or voted “according to their conscience” for a third party candidate. Well, under normal circumstances during a “normal” election, I’d respect those choices: to abstain from voting if you didn’t feel you could endorse any of the candidates running or if you felt strongly inclined toward one of the other candidates outside of the two main parties.
However, in this case, where the stakes were so high, how could they risk it? How could they not feel motivated to do what they could to keep him out of power? How could they basically throw their votes away?
For people passionate about environmental issues who voted for Jill Stein in swing states, I have one thing to say to you. Congratulations. Your vote helped elect a candidate that doesn’t believe that climate change is real. He has said it is a hoax. You helped a candidate get into power who doesn’t give a shit about our environment…or you. Clinton may not have gone as far as you would have liked on environmental issues but she would not have taken us back and you would have been able to push your agenda forward with her in power. Now look what you have to contend with. You better be ready for a fight.
So, all in all, I’m just bitterly disappointed with everyone who didn’t do all they could to stop him from gaining power. We now have to look at that face and listen to that voice over the next four years and resist his moves to destroy all the good that we have worked so hard for. We have to endure watching him move into the White House as our beautiful Obama family ends their service as our First Family. That will be a real treat won’t it.
We have to watch him negotiate internationally on our behalf to the chagrin of the rest of the world with the exception of Russia and France perhaps. We have to watch him like a hawk and fight every legislative change he tries to push that will remove the rights, safety and security of our people. We have to see his cronies occupy the White House, own it and make decisions that will hurt this country.
I am beyond devastated. I feel hopeless right now. Thank God some states went very Blue. That’s something to hold onto.
Tuesday November 8, 2016