First, and most importantly: How are you? Are you alright?
Secondly: How did it get to this point?
I’ve never felt this disenfranchised in my life as a result of an election. And this will get a bit ranty, but I need to say something. So, here’s my two cents. Take them or don’t.
I’ve voted in every election, with the exception of a midterm somewhere, I’ve been legal to do so in since I turned 18 in 2002. My first election was for an independent candidate I can’t remember the name of during the recall election of Gray Davis in my home state of California. I’ve never been registered to a political party — the entire time I’ve been NPP (No Party Preference), and I have no inclination towards changing that designation.
I respect that we have multiple parties, even if only two major players. They can find the faults in the other side’s arguments, offer context against one another, in the effort to find the best path forward for everyone impacted by policies. We NEED that sort of system of checks and balances; we need to have as much information as possible to make the best, most informed decision we can.
And I don’t believe that happened in this election cycle. Instead, we had two candidates – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – who didn’t debate policy. Hillary had flashes where she tried, but it kept moving back toward the mud. Debates were less about ideas and more about zingers, fewer policy proposals and more insults. There wasn’t serious discussion on how to address the role of the US in Syria, or whether to take in refugees, or how to strengthen the holes in national security… it was about nebulous concepts like “strength” and “winning”. The woman with actual credentials that, on paper, should have handed it to her easily – being a US senator, Secretary-Of-State, a political mind of public service going back decades – was instead narrowly defeated via the electoral college system by a man who had neither held elected office nor served in the military.
Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America. Yes, this sentence does trouble me. Not because Hillary was “my” candidate or Trump was “the other”, but because of his own words. Ironically, the press that covered those statements was perceived by Trump as helping to rig the system against him, as if he wasn’t personally responsible for his own statements.
And those statements, to me, were more than damning. He’s proposed blocking an entire religion from entering the US until “our contry’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on”; he’s proposed possibly punishing women for getting an abortion; he’s said he will open up US libel laws to more easily sue journalists to win “lots of money”; he’s brought to his campaign Mike Pence, who is incredibly anti-LGBTQ*, ranging from introducing “religious freedom” bills to allow for discrimination to battling in Congress over both marriage rights and civil liberties.
And none of that includes his own public persona. He’s publicly failed in many different industries, he’ll be in court this month over his fraud trial due to Trump University, he’s been accused of sexual assault by multiple different people (which wasn’t helped by his infamous “grab them by the pussy” comments). He’s been open about cheating on his previous wife Ivanka. He’s lost money on a casino – a casino – and has shown very little interest on public service for the entirety of his public life.
And now, he’s set to be sworn in as President of the United States of America, even after narrowly losing the popular vote.
Thanks, electoral college!
This is insane.
Yes, I am concerned. For all of what I’ve mentioned here. I’m not claiming Hillary was a perfect candidate, but Trump… he’s simply disgusting as a candidate. Personality-wise he’s impulsive, doesn’t think before speaking, compulsively lies, callous, insulting, crude, and overreacts to any slights he perceives against him. He’s a terrible choice for the pressures of a position like CEO of a company, let alone for POTUS. And yet… here we are.
I’m concerned not just for myself and my ability to write these blogs, but I’m concerned for the women in my life. Of the people of color in my life. My trans* brothers and sisters, and my immigrant friends as well. The rise of Trump has brought with it to the news cycle some nasty elements of the alt-right – the racists, misogynists, bigots and nationalists. I’m concerned for our economy and my health insurance. And believe me, I hope that four years will not change much on any of those fronts, but I have enough reason to worry with what he’s said and how he’s said it.
And you know what, you may be thinking I’m overreacting. That I’m looking too much into things, that I’m being pessimistic or a whiny baby. You may have a leg to stand on there, even. But knowing that, for example, the ACA has had a large number of House votes to repeal it without a veto-proof majority, and the president-elect has promised to repeal it, there’s nothing standing in the way… Republican House and Senate. Sure there can be filibusters, but those will only delay votes, they won’t cancel them. If the GOP reps and senators decide to fall in line with Trump, he can do much of what he wants over the next few years — he can even help in passing an end to the filibuster.
I see politics as not a game to win, but as one to benefit everyone involved. Politics used to be a noble profession in the US, with men and women trying their best to hammer out a path forward to helping ordinary and disenfranchised Americans. Sure they fought, and they wanted to get their way, but they were willing (more often than not) to negotiate to find middle ground and at least do something – ANYTHING – to improve upon the American experiment. And after Mitch McConnell in 2008 vowing that Obama would be a one-term president before he had even been sworn in, the stonewalling in congress and relative slowing down of the passage of bills over the last decade or two, the contentious rhetoric from both sides and unwillingness to break from the party ranks should one side make more sense than the other, I’ve gradually begun to think that party labels are part of the issue. The other part is, there is only an “us versus them” mentality within the chamber walls.
I hope I’m wrong. I very much hope I’m wrong about that. I want Washington DC to be awash with politicians willing to reach across the aisle in genuine attempts to improve on the American experiment and help their fellow citizens, regardless of the letter next to their names. And I hope Donald Trump proves me outright, embarrassingly wrong. I want my president to be humble, thoughtful, measured, and informed.
I want to be wrong. But I fear I’m not, and because of that, other fears compound that feeling.
In the meantime, nothing on my end changes. I’ll be supporting my fellow LGBTQ* friends and allies, wearing my favorite “Humanist” hoodie and being openly secular in a country that’s so heavily religious demographically. I’ll continue to wear mismatched socks and play poker. I’ll go on dates with my girlfriend and talk about video games. Because I refuse to let what I see as a lying and swindling orange sad sack in the White House change how I live my life.
Life will go on and we will choose whether or not to go along with it. Am I frustrated? Yes. Confused? Absolutely. But fuck if I’ll let that orange bigot and the worst of those who came out into the sunlight to support him loudly and proudly change who I am.
Stand Tall, my friends. It’s not quite “morning in America” (hell, it wasn’t even at the time) but we’ll find the sunlight soon enough. Even if it takes four years.