Eight years ago, I wrote here about how proud I was of my country. That was a time of great turmoil. The financial markets had collapsed and America was on the verge of dragging all of the Western world down the drain with her. And yet, despite all of that, and despite an electorate that questioned his very birthplace, the United States elected Barack Obama. I felt we had finally overcome hate with hope and had cast a light on the darkness of the future. And now, eight years later, America has elected Obama’s exact opposite, the man who launched his political career by questioning Obama’s birth certificate, Donald Trump.
And Trump’s campaign has been the ugliest I’ve ever seen. It started with him calling mexican immigrants rapists and went straight down hill from there. This is a man who has mocked the disabled, who has insulted all women, who made fun of veterans, he boasted that he could shoot someone, he threatened to jail his political opponents, he spoke about his opponent getting assassinated, and he bragged about sexual assault. And all along, the vast majority of the Republican party either walked lock-step with him, or stood silently by him.
What Trump has done is exposed American politics. Whereas before people would say their hateful rhetoric in code, Trump doesn’t have that finesse and he just says what he means in plain language. He has truly exposed America as a nation of ugly, hate-fueled, bigots, and misogynists.
I know that there are a lot of people out there who will read that last sentence and their reply will be “didn’t Brexit teach you that calling people racists is why we voted against your candidate?” And my response is that if you voted for Trump, you voted for a candidate who opened his campaign by saying that Mexico is sending us rapists and drug dealers. A candidate who called the judge in his pending lawsuit a “Mexican”, when the man was born in Indiana. It was a remark that even Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House called “the textbook definition of a racist comment”. And while there are plenty of other examples, perhaps the most glaring is that he believes that the Central Park Five, the teenagers who were wrongly convicted of rape and who were exonerated years later using DNA evidence, are guilty. He just doesn’t know what they were guilty of, just something. So, while it may make you uncomfortable, if you voted for Trump, you voted for a campaign and a man who made openly racist remarks and who uses race as a tool to discredit people.
But even despite all of this, I have to take a little solace in the fact that the majority of Americans voted against Trump. That means that more than half of this country isn’t racist, isn’t misogynist, and is right now very ashamed of the fact that Trump is our president. And a large portion of that half of our country voted against Trump despite the Democratic party putting up the most unliked candidate I have ever seen. Many of us who voted for Hillary did so despite the fact that she represented all of the political ills of our times — for example, that she used her political connections to enrich herself and her family — and we voted for her as a protest of Trump.
As for that Democratic party, everyone in any upper management position needs to resign immediately. I have been a lifelong Democrat, I have caucused with the Democrats in almost every election, and I have helped to shape the party platform. I saw the energy that Bernie brought to this country, the integrity he brought to this country, and the young people he mobilized in this election. If this election was about the poor and middle-class protesting the system, which it was in many ways, I feel confident that Bernie would have trounced Trump. They have to resign because they just lost the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court to the worst candidate in American history.
That last bit is probably the hardest thing to take. Republicans have complete control of our government and they have an openly racist commander in chief. But I did get one glimmer of hope yesterday. I had dinner with my daughter and she told me that her class talked about the election. Only two kids in her class supported Trump, one is a bully and the other is a little girl who wants to be the first female president. After the discussion, the kids all went outside for recess and many of them marched, on their own, around the little track in their school booing Trump.
That is the only direction forward right now. We need to take the example of the young people who have walked out of schools and who took to the streets last night and add our voice to theirs. We need to stand up to the bully, to stand up for what is right, and not to let Trump and the Republicans run roughshod over our country.
The world is watching.