And then I exhaled and stepped back….
I voted on the very first day of early voting; it was the most joyful and exhilarating moment! I snapped that family selfie with our “I voted” stickers, big giddy smiles, certain that we were part of a beautiful nationwide movement to tell a bully to get lost. We’re better than that. We’re compassionate and reasonable, we’re better than that.
And then Tuesday night, my fellow Americans—I have to include the non-voters and the protest voters– disabused me of that notion.
And my heart was broken and I was nauseated for two days straight.
I was angry at the normalization of sexual assault. No, you cannot grab women by their genitals, even if you’re a star.
Rush Limbaugh, in his defense of Trump, said that the “morality of the Left” will permit anything but that “consent is magic key to the Left”. And none of his listeners, nobody but a few liberal bloggers like myself said: “Sorry, what now? I think it’s the ‘magic key’ to every decent person, period.”
I feared what it meant for society that Trump’s social media army brushed off his boast with “so what, Jay Z was invited to the White House and he says ‘pussy’ all the time….”– as if they couldn’t distinguish crude language and a rapper’s expressions of libido from actual assault.
I was scared for people of color. There’s a reason that the white supremacy groups so endorsed him and the KKK held a victory parade.
After the Central Park Jogger was brutally raped and beaten in 1989, 5 innocent black teenagers were arrested. Within days of the arrest, well before the trial even, Trump took out ads in all the major NY newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty. His language was reminiscent of someone trying to incite a lynching in the 1930’s. Years later, someone asked Trump about it, he was unrepentant. His response tweet: “Tell me, what were they doing in the park, playing checkers?”
I was sad because when I shared this story on my blog, his supporters said “At least he’s doing something!” Yes, I suppose. He’s compounding one terrible tragedy with 5 more. Emmett Till, the sequel. Sure, that’s something.
I was scared for children and refugees whose only crime was being born in war-ravaged areas, because now we have a Commander in Chief who’s stated: 1) “I love war” 2) “I would bomb the shit out of them”, 3) “if we have nukes, why can’t we use them?” and 4) “you can’t just go after Isis, you have to take out their families”. Also, his son and campaign surrogate Donald Jr. thought it was appropriate to compare them to bowl of Skittles.
I was angry at non-voters and protest voters. Yes, we should vote our consciences, of course.
But let me share some details of what we can expect in Trump’s first 100 days.
- He appointed a climate change denier to head the transition team in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.
- He vowed to repeal Obamacare “on day one” – which would be devastating for millions of Americans who rely on it. (Now, he seems to be changing his mind, perhaps he discovered what it actually is????)
- Word is he might appoint loyal ally Newt Gingrich as Secretary of State. Newt Gingrich is the politician known for being contemptuous of child labor laws. He suggested, repeatedly, that we fire all school janitors and replace with them with poor kids. That’s a Charles Dickens dystopia, not an economic plan.
- Another possible cabinet appointment is Sheriff Clarke of Wisconsin for head of Homeland Security. Sheriff Clarke was a featured speaker at the RNC Convention. He called Black Lives Matter “a hate group that needs to be eradicated from American society”called BLM activists “sub-human creeps”, and his department is under a current investigation for turning off the water in prisoner Terrill Thomas’s cell. Thomas died of dehydration after 6 days.
- And don’t forget Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, enacted a state law that that made it legal to deny people goods and service based on sexual orientation. He called it the “religious liberty” law.
I thought we already had the conversation about who can sit at the Woolworth’s counter and eat a burger in the Civil Rights era, 60 years ago.
I thought we’d made progress. I thought we were leaving a time when LGBT teenagers committed suicide at multiple times the rate of their straight peers.
(History lesson: When the Loving couple was prosecuted for marrying inter-racially in the 50s, the judge who upheld their conviction wrote that “it was not God’s plan for the races to mix.” I thought we were done with Conservative lawmakers explaining to us “God’s plan,” for marriage or anything else, in the service of bigotry.)
Anyway. That’s just the very quick Cliff’s Notes version of the first 100 days.
If you believe that there wasn’t enough difference between the two major party candidates to justify your vote, you were wrong. And when Bernie Sanders, Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren, and other proven life-long progressive warriors pleaded with you to not protest vote, I wish you had heard them, because the most vulnerable among us might soon be in a world of pain.
I was saddened by the vast chasm between perception and fact. Trump was perceived to be speaking on behalf of the average Joe. The fact of Trump’s economic plan is this: it will explode the deficit. and it amounts to massive gift to the wealthiest few. Over half of the tax cuts will go to the top 1%. I know that no one will research this–and certainly not through legitimate non-partisan sources. But the fact remains.
There is a reason why over 300 of the world’s leading economists including Nobel laureates signed an open letter imploring people to understand that Trump’s plan would be catastrophic for all but the wealthiest few.
Mostly (this, most of all) I was heart-broken because I saw a man who mocked a reporter’s disability, who advised his Twitter followers to check out a woman’s sex tape, who routinely bullied women on their looks, who was so gratuitously cruel to Rosie O’Donnell – who seems like a compassionate enough person (donated a million dollars to the Red Cross the day after 9/11) — in 2 presidential debates that it made me feel dirty and debased just watching it.
I saw a demagogue who proclaimed “No one reads the Bible more than me.”
Well, the Bible says welcome strangers in need, Trump says build a wall. The Bible says no man can serve God and Mammon, Trump’s entire life & persona is such total commitment to accruing and displaying personal wealth that even Louis XIV would say “Dude, reel it in, that’s tacky.”
The Bible says don’t bear false witness, Trump claimed that he saw, with his own eyes, thousands of Muslims celebrating 9/11. Which is dangerous and irresponsible insofar as it breeds hate, but stoking hatred of entire groups is who he is. He did, after all, open his campaign by suggesting the bulk of Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists.
The Bible says don’t steal. Various forms of stealing, from exploiting overseas workers to stiffing employees, multiple bankruptcies, and not paying taxes for 20 years, have been an integral part of Trump’s empire.
Jesus says how you treat the least among you is how you treat me. I wonder how many school lunches or beds for homeless folks 20 years of a billionaires’ taxes could have paid for.
I saw all that, and America saw all that. And I guess it was deemed acceptable enough, whether they voted for him or just showed their acceptance by staying home, that he’s our president.
And it was a visceral pain and disappointment.
And then I exhaled. And stepped back.
The anger wasn’t healthy. Hasn’t been for a long time. For me, personally, I need to tap out for a bit.
Maybe we’ll be okay, and enough good-hearted people with solid critical thinking skills, who had been passive prior to this, will be horrified enough to stand up and fight for love and empathy.
Maybe Trump’s need for admiration will make him a better president than we fear.
Or maybe this is where we break. And then we heal even stronger, like how it is with broken bones.