I wasn’t going to write about this, because I still can’t entirely wrap my mind around the far-reaching implications the American presidential election has wrought upon us. The words flit around, but I can’t quite corral them yet.
I wasn’t going to write about it, because I am still too angry, but since Tuesday, when the rest of the country elected a bigoted, misogynistic, racist, megalomaniacal, under-qualified, over-tanned bully with the world’s dumbest hair into the highest office of my country, it’s pretty much been all that’s on my mind.
Per usual, my first reaction was anger. To be more specific, it was this:
My anger kept increasing throughout the day. At lunch, I went to the park to listen to the news as usual, and they were having a call in show. I posted this on Twitter:
White male Trump supporter on radio: I’ve lost friends from this election. My first thought? Die alone, fucker. I might be a bit too angry.
10 minutes later, I thought better of it and deleted it from Twitter, forgetting that my Twitter account automatically posts to Facebook. It generated reactions there, so I left it.
By the time I left work, I was seething. I was wearing a permanent scowl, and the only thing that saved me from actually yelling at random white people was the fact that I live in a very liberal part of the most liberal state in the union. Hell, we had two Democratic women running for the same Senate seat. If the general public’s presidential votes counted for a damn thing, Clinton would have won just from of all the support she got in California. Most people I know, even in passing, are various degrees of like-minded.
That night, I talked to a friend of mine who wasn’t nearly as angry as me.
Her: “I am disappointed, sure, but I’m not angry at the people who voted for Trump.”
Me: “How can you not be angry? They just elected a racist misogynist. A vote for Trump essentially means you’ve given tacit approval to sexism and discrimination.”
Her: “That may be true as an outcome, but I don’t think most of them saw it that way. We have no idea how lucky we are to live in an open-minded part of the country with a good economy. I was grocery shopping the other day and there was a big black man holding hands with an Asian transsexual. Nobody stared at them, called them names or even paid them any attention. That wouldn’t happen just anywhere.”
Me: “True. We are very lucky, but that doesn’t excuse disregarding all the ignorant, racist and sexist things he’s said. It doesn’t excuse ignoring the fraud, the lawsuits, the scandals, etc.”
Her: “If I were to step on your foot right now and not move for five or ten years, you wouldn’t be able to focus on much besides the fact that I was stepping on your foot. Then, if someone came along and promised to help, no matter what else he said or did, you might listen to him simply to get me off your foot. Those people are in pain, real pain, and they simply ignored all else. That’s how I see it anyway. That’s how I have to see it or I’d go mad.”
Her words stunned me, not just because it presented an eloquent analogy of an alternate perspective, but because the friend I was talking to is a black woman. It also occurred to me in that moment that maybe I reacted much more strongly to the tacit racism in Trump’s victory than she did, simply because she’s more used to racism than I am.
No matter how not racist I am, I can never know what it’s like to not be a white woman. Judging people based on skin color is absolute bullshit, but some people do exactly that, subconsciously or not. I’ve driven through parts of America where I would have been incredibly uncomfortable to have more pigment in my skin.
That said, I think my friend is partially right. I don’t think the decision to vote for Trump automatically means you’re racist. I don’t think the majority of Trump voters are secretly KKK members. Most people probably didn’t even see the blatant racism in calling Mexicans “rapists” and promising to rid the country of Muslims.
Still, that doesn’t excuse it. Putting blinders on and disregarding the intolerance inherent in his rhetoric is not okay, even if he did promise to “make America great again.”
The damage to the rust belt economy is not new; it’s been declining for decades and decades. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle. We need a real plan to move forward, not just an empty slogan and not a president who’s going to set human rights back decades, not to mention the economy, the environment, foreign affairs… the list of delicate political ecosystems he could destroy is too long. I still have a difficult time seeing all of the potential pitfalls of his stupid victory. It’s not the America I voted for.
P.S. Can we do away with the Electoral College now, please? This is the second time in this tiny century that a candidate won the popular vote, but lost the election anyway.
P.P.S. In other news, my mom was re-elected! At least some good news came out of Tuesday’s election.