I would assume that all of you reading this were shocked and disappointed in the election results on Nov. 8. It hit me very hard when I thought how much work had gone into making things better in the world and how so much of what Trump proposes could reverse that progress. It is a comfort to be in an enlightened place like Alachua County, and heart warming when electoral maps show our blue island in the sea of red, but even here the impacts of the Trump’s razor thin victory will be felt.
There is a rise of racist, sexist and xenophobic behavior emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric, a poison loosened in the culture even without his victory. In Britain, after Brexit, people of conscience, as a sign of solidarity and love, started wearing a safety pin visible on their clothing, to let immigrants, LGBT and other threatened individuals know they were a person who could be trusted. We need to be able to explain to Trumpers that the politics of division hurt us all, and that there are also threats to healthcare and social security that effect them as well.
On Nov 10, some movement friends and I organized a speak out at City Hall. Over 400 people came, over 40 spoke. A perhaps 10-year-old put it forward quite basically: “I think we should protest to not let this stupid person have that much power.” Protest yes, but organize, organize, organize was a recurring theme. People aired their real fears, the threats they feel, things that just in the last day had happened to them or others. There were very direct and on point challenges to not just confront Trump people, but to try and talk to them, to get them to see beyond their misplaced prejudices. To go out to where they live and to the events they go to and not just stay in our little bubble. Especially, white folks were asked to deal with their fellow white folks who they might otherwise not engage with, to go out of their comfort zone.
In all the recriminations of how this happened, I don’t believe the media has not been held to account enough. As someone said to me election night, “It’s like if Trump said ‘the earth is flat’, the media would simply say that ‘the candidates had a difference of opinion’.” CNN admitted they gave undo attention to Trump because it was good for ratings, even to the point of an hour broadcast of an empty podium prior to a Trump speech. And the Republican party itself paved the way for Trump’s rise with their inflammatory rhetoric in recent decades; Trump just took it to another level.
I think Hillary Clinton’s loss can also be laid at the feet of the Democratic National Committee, which thought it could engineer a sure win for her and themselves. The rise of the Sanders campaign was seen as a challenge to be defeated. Jane McNulty lays it out in her piece on page 9. I can’t help but think that even if Bernie Sanders had been the party nominee and lost, we would still be so far ahead of where we are now. The attacks on his socialism and his response would have educated the public. The attacks on his Movement past and his rebuttal would have enlightened many. I believe he would have done better at countering Trumps outlandish claims, and the energy of his supporters would have been infectious. I also believe he would have won. Her loss is a squandered historical moment, the ramifications of which we will deal with for decades.
But barring unforeseen events, like the electoral college refusing to validate his win on Dec 19, or Trump himself admitting he is indeed incapable of doing the job, we will have to deal with President Trump, and his even more frightening VP pick Mike Pence, only a heartbeat or impeachment away from the Presidency. This will be a challenge, and we all need to be prepared to shine in whatever way we can. He gives us an opportunity to unify in opposition to his imminent attacks on hard fought gains, and organize for upcoming elections in 2018 and 2020. Our friends and neighbors who are more threatened than us will be needing us. We will rise.