Heartbroken, shock, despair, hopeless, terrified: the words of everyone who believes in a forward-moving America right now, upon waking up to a Trumpian nightmare.
In the coming days, we’ll hear from many who would blame us, blame Hillary Clinton and the Democrat elite, blame low turnout, blame the polls and even blame Brexit. They are all wrong.
In a few articles (such as this one for the Atlantic), it is already being implied that the outcome of the election is due to people on the Left who “didn’t listen” to the disaffected voters. This is yet another regurgitation of the “economic anxiety” narrative, and misses the point. This was not an election between two candidates, where you could make equivalent choices. This was an election between one person who was a candidate (an imperfect one, but still an exemplary one), and one person who showed us very early on exactly who he was.
Make no mistake: Trump is not sophisticated enough to hide his message in pleasantries. From the moment he came down those stairs, everyone on both sides, educated or not, knew what this candidacy was about. From the “Make America Great Again” shirts to the sexually predatory behavior he described in his own words, everyone, even small schoolchildren, knew what he was. But this isn’t even about what Donald Trump said — it’s about what so many millions of people said in response.
Donald Trump said Mexicans are murderers and rapists. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
He said he wanted to take our country back to the 50’s. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
He assaulted and grabbed and belittled and humiliated women. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
He wanted to ban Muslims, deport millions and destroy families of color. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
He shouted, swore, bragged, talked about his penis and called Hillary names on stage. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
He built a campaign whose only consistent positions were hate, fear, racism, and misogyny. And they said, “I want to vote for that.”
The media laughed.
And the people of color, most of them black, whose voices urgently pleaded with the electorate and the media to LISTEN, to avoid this repeating of history, were largely ignored.
And the people said, “I want to vote for that.”
When the pollsters came, they lied. Why? Because they knew better. But their sense of right and wrong could not overcome the truth of what was in their hearts.
In the coming days, in the analysis and the “who called it?” and the blaming, we cannot lose sight of what this election was really about, and whose voices were trampled over on the way to this horrifying moment. We also cannot ignore that this was a very long time coming (yes, you can be a racist even if you voted for Obama — it’s like your “one black friend,”), but there will be many books written in the coming years to analyze that.
My sadness tonight is not entirely existential. A few years ago, I had a dream. It was that most American of dreams: to start a business, to work for myself; to use my talents to try and do something good in this world. Being black, I learned from an early age never to expect too much from our country. But I pursued my dream anyway, because what happens to a dream deferred? So my husband and I jumped out and went for it. We were able to do so, in part, because of Obamacare. It has been one of the happiest times of my life. Now I’m awake, pacing the floors, because of the possibility that for me, and others like me, I could lose access to my dream, I may have to close down my business, and my life could change. Why? Because America voted for it.
The shocked pundits and the newscasters live in a different world. The rest of us have been terrified of this for a year and a half, precisely because we knew it could happen. But to see it on the screen is to see up close the direct and incontrovertible evidence that a dream like mine isn’t meant for me. The right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness now stands exactly as it was originally written — a dream and a possibility only for the young, the wealthy, and the white.
We will hear about a great America. We will hear about the need for unity. But right now, 5 am on November 9, I do not believe America is great. I do not believe there is a united America. America has shown what has been its true face all along. America turned its collective back on millions like me, and there is no unity in that.
*To read more on these sentiments, and a very apt comparison of the Obama era to late 19th century reconstruction, click here.
*For something more hopeful, click here.
*If you’re like me and terrified about healthcare, there may be consolation: my (very!) preliminary research suggests nothing can be completely reversed for possibly up to 2 years, and that even if they “reverse” the ACA they could keep the pre-existing coverage part in — it affects a lot of Republican voters as well.