Well, FuckPosted: November 9, 2016
For many-to-all of the people that might be reading this, I suspect that last night was the longest and most upsetting night you’ve lived through in some time. I know that was the case for me and mine. This seems incomprehensible and mind-numbing on so many levels, and yet this is the reality that’s been delivered unto us, and now we need to figure out exactly what to do next.
But before we reckon with that, there’s some moral housekeeping to be done. While third-party votes may have exceeded the difference in votes between… him and Clinton in some incredibly important states, I’m not prepared to implicitly throw all third-party voters under the bus as scapegoats (although it is sooooooooo fucking tempting to do so, and this very true fact frustrates me to no end). And while the media certainly made things far easier for him than they should have been by normalizing his behavior and blowing the wrong things out of proportion, I’m not sure that was what really decided things for people. The fact is, none of that would be relevant if millions upon millions of people were not perfectly happy to vote for a man who could very accurately be described as racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, authoritarian, vindictive, childish and unstable.
And they did it because they were white.
Let’s be fucking clear about this. White people made an active effort to hold this country back and reject any potential progress for the sake of their own senselessly-fragile cultural identities. If you don’t believe me, there are charts out there (I am so not in the mood to post them here, I’m not a journalist so I don’t have to) illustrating that counties that had the lowest levels of unemployment actually voted for him hardest, that the people with the lowest incomes supported Hillary, and that the only racial demographic he won were white people. White people did this, out of some nonsense perspective about their place in this country, and now we all have to live in the aftermath of their entitlement and anger and fear.
And if you’re a white person and you didn’t vote for him, that’s great! I’m glad some of us aren’t self-involved shits. But that means you know most criticisms of white Americans being leveled today probably don’t apply to you so you don’t need to act defensive and say “well we aren’t ALL racist” or whatever. The burden of us as (straight) white people is that we need to own this fact, that our people made this choice for the nation, and whether we personally contributed to that fact shouldn’t lead to us dismissing the very real concern and suspicion of every non-white, non-straight person in this country that now get to grapple with an existential fear we can’t understand.
So, here we are. And I don’t know what to do next.
People have said that we need to organize, be proactive, be bulwarks against the potentially deadly social tide that will wash in after this storm. That sounds right, it sounds good, but for me that’s hard to wrap my head around. I live in New York, a liberal bastion that safely supports the values that just took a big hit last night. Do I need to move to a swing state, or actively work with a campaign? How can I know the acceptable level of action to take, how do I know the best way to help?
Some people (in web-page-crashing numbers) have wondered about moving to Canada, trying to get out from under this looming shadow before it’s too late. And I honestly can’t judge anyone for making that choice if they feel unsafe. Sure, I don’t want to surrender America to people like him but you never know when too late is too late, and it would be inhuman to romantically cling to the ideal of America at the expense of real lives that might be lost in the meanwhile.
I saw someone I can’t remember write the other day that America has never really been great, but has always pursued greatness. I think that’s true, and to say otherwise is to ignore a great deal of awfulness in American history. But I’ve always believed in that pursuit, in the inherent idealism of the American Experiment that was always in contrast with our compromises and contradictions. And that idealism has been captured in some wonderful art that it pains me to think about now. I believed in the idealism of Superman and Captain America, of Lincoln and Hamilton and West Wing and Parks and Recreation… and it feels like this is the farthest we’ve been from that idealism in a long time.
I really don’t know what I’m saying. Maybe because what’s there to say? I just woke up to the need to write something, anything, about this shitshow. To accept this reality through the one definitive talent God gave me. And now I, we, have to forge ahead into this cowardly new world.
There is one other thing to say. Being a straight white dude of Christian background living in a major metropolitan area, I am unlikely to be directly affected by any of what’s happened in my day-to-day life. Sure, there’s always the worry that this presidency could result in a cataclysm far beyond what’s imaginable (and I have a first rate imagination) but I’m not going to have to worry about my identity being under siege at any given moment, regardless of what my fellow white people seem to think. But to all the women, minorities, immigrants, LGBT, and disabled people that feel even more out of place than before in this country, who feel fear and uncertainty I can’t imagine: you aren’t alone. And no matter what happens next, you never will be. I hope that means something.
Now lets hold hands and step into the reality where Donald Trump is President of the United States. Together.