The past week have been quite a rollercoaster for this country and the world. Many of us are still processing what this all means. While I’d like to get back to our regularly scheduled programming of technology, business, startup, fitness, and personal growth content here, I’m compelled to share my perspective on where we go from here.
While Trump is still only the President-elect and this story will be unfolding for a long time to come, here’s what I’ve gotten out of the election so far:
Charisma matters. People get fired up, donate, volunteer, and vote when they see a candidate that resonates with them on an emotional level. You saw that with Barack Obama, you saw that with Bernie Sanders, and you saw that with Donald Trump. Trump captured people’s attention, which earned him outsized media coverage early on, and signaled his anti-establishment brand by insulting just about everyone and not even being apologetic about it. I vehemently oppose his hateful rhetoric but I recognize that it was effective in winning the election.
When you aren’t excited about a candidate, you vote third-party or stay home. This is the counter point to the one above. I know of people who even turned out to vote and were against Trump, but were unwilling to vote for Hillary. And there were almost three times as many third party votes this year compared to 2012 with Millenial voters dramatically shifting to third-party candidates. This added up to millions more votes that would have easily changed the outcome of this election.
There is a huge swath of the population that feels scared, hurt, and ignored. Some of these people didn’t turn out to vote in years past because of the above point, while others gave Obama a chance in 2008 and 2012 as an “outsider” candidate. They have experienced ridicule and short shrift by urban dwellers, the well-educated, and liberals, and they are afraid of how this country and their world is changing around them. Despite being a billionaire, Donald Trump spoke to these people and acknowledged their pain and promised to make it go away, and these people believed him.
There is also a deep streak of racism and xenophobia in this country. The previous point notwithstanding, Trump also reaped tremendous benefit from the enthusiastic support of the alt-Right, a loose coalition of white Nationalists and the Klu Klux Klan itself. From his comments on Mexicans as rapists to “Radical Islam” to his claim that black people in America live in “a war zone”, Trump has encouraged and emboldened the most awful aspects of our society and brought them to light in a way that has shocked many. This behavior was inexcusable when he was a candidate, and completely unacceptable now as he prepares to assume the Presidency.
The Trump election was particularly damning for women. For many, this election is simple the most magnified example of sexism that could possibly be configured: a highly qualified woman who has been smeared and attacked at every turn, who, while imperfect, has garnered immense support and done her homework. And a man who has no military or political experience, who admits to sexually assaulting women, who has 75 pending lawsuits against him, who has seemingly no campaign platform outside of “build a wall”, “deport immigrants”, and “stop free trade” and who waltzes in and wins a position he has truly no business doing. This is a chance for us all to acknowledge that highly competent women still face far greater expectations and are afforded no where near the same benefit of doubt as totally incompetent men. If this does not anger you, it should.
There are many vulnerable people are going to be in danger thanks to Trump and this election. From undocumented immigrants to gay and Muslim people to just women of every walk of life. My Pakistani friend has told me how frightened his parents, who are US citizens living in California, are concerned about being deported or prevented from returning back to the states after a trip abroad. There have been over 300 hate crimes reported in just the last week alone. Trump’s victory has seemed acknowledge to some that it is now acceptable to say and do hateful things to people. And if you aren’t scared, then you are probably white and probably a man, because everyone else is a potential target.
So what do we do now? Well, here are a few more thoughts:
We need to stay vigilant against existential threats to our democracy. While this may seem unlikely now, Trump’s rise could foretell far greater dangers than “simply” four years of a highly conservative agenda. Trump seems ready to limit press access enormously and he’s already positioned the media as totally unfair against him, his children are both his advisers and the people running his many businesses, he’s got the support of a hateful and potentially violent group of people who are looking for scapegoats for their problems, and Republicans control the House, Senate, most of the governorships and the chance to nominate one and up to three Supreme Court Justices. That’s what the image of this blog is meant to remind us of: this is not normal and we cannot let it normalize.
We all need to get way more involved. If you didn’t vote, or voted third party, you helped Trump get elected. And if you just voted for Hillary but didn’t do much in the way of canvassing (this includes myself) you could have done more. If we care about civil liberties, about economic prosperity, about protecting vulnerable populations, about climate change, about racial justice, we cannot wait for it to get better on its own. Everyone needs to get involved and do more, from local politics, to volunteering for nonprofits, to giving more generously and deliberately to important causes, to get out the vote efforts before the next election. Do not withdraw. Do not just hope it will be better. We have a moral obligation to make things right.
Don’t let hate go unchecked. While it can be scary, it’s important to speak up against racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant language and actions when you can. If you see someone getting yelled at on the street, focus on starting a conversation with the victim and defuse the situation. While I am not asking anyone to put themselves in harms way, we all can do more to make this world a safer place.
Review this flow chart and start somewhere:
Remember that more people in this country are against Trump than for him. While votes are still coming in, Hillary is projected to win the popular vote by 1 to 2 million votes. It’s a small comfort with Trump as President-elect, but it’s something to never forget. There are more people in this country who reject the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and general hatred that was expressed and invoked by the Trump campaign in this election. Don’t lose hope that things can get better, because the numbers (and history) are on our side.
Blog image via owlturd.com