Tonight I stare at the map of the United States covered in red and it appears more ominous than ever.
This is a wake-up call to us all. The people spoke, clearly, in favor of a candidate so unfit, so ill-tempered, so hateful, that his ascension can only be the work of fear. It wasn’t idiocy that secured his presidency—I don’t buy the line that Trump supporters are idiots. This sort of political will is far more painfully human than mere idiocy. Donald Trump managed to tap into the fear and discontent of millions of Americans with a string of promises that resonated so loudly it deafened them to his blatant attacks on the values that make this country great.
Trump supporters were what they are today before Donald Trump came on the scene. They were tired. They were hurting. They were disaffected. They were marginalized. And however we may disagree with them, the reality of their daily lives will refute whatever arguments you use or insults you hurl. The more we push against this, the more we delude ourselves into incomprehension. In the end, we push against the inevitable and the historic.
So how do we move forward?
Part of me thinks we should listen. I imagine myself sitting down and saying, “Okay, tell me what you think is wrong with this country.” Then I imagine a slew of racist and xenophobic exhortations. How do we listen to dehumanization?
Part of me thinks we should unite. I imagine the disheartened coming together to put up a front against what will undoubtedly be a volatile time in American history. Then I imagine someone saying, “You don’t know what it’s like to be X.” How do we reconcile individual experiences?
Part of me thinks we should speak out. I imagine myself outraged on the streets, intoning every argument to persuade and open eyes. Then I imagine violence against my body and my those I love. How do we resist the call to retaliation?
In short, all I see before us is division. But I also see opportunity. We are exposed. All the guile is removed. It’s scary, sure, but it’s not new. The most underrepresented and mistreated among us knew this brewed beneath the surface of American life. And now we must all confront it. We cannot deny it.
We cannot deny the racism, the xenophobia, the homophobia, the sexism, the misogyny, the war hunger, the capitalism, the corporate and state corruption, and we cannot deny whatever happens after January 20, 2017. We know what we know; and Trump supporters know what they know. If Donald Trump turns out to be exactly what we’ve come to expect, no one can claim ignorance.
But we don’t stop there. We move forward. We move forward with the conviction that the stakes have changed. Up until yesterday many of us could afford to be apathetic. Today, that luxury is lost. We must come together to safeguard the values we believe Trump and Congress might trammel. We must listen, unite and speak out.
I know it won’t be simple.
We may not share in each other’s individual struggles, but today, we share in each other’s fate, because any loss of equity, freedom, or self-determination is a threat to each and every one of us.
Image pulled from The Atlantic