An Un-American Election
The day after the election, I expressed my deep sadness online that Americans would elect an openly ignorant, hateful demagogue to the presidency. I’d always believed there were too many decent people in both parties for that ever to happen.
I quickly heard from a friend I grew up with in Union City, Ind.—one of those white, economically depressed small towns that rose up in anger across the country to elect Donald Trump.
Bob was disappointed I’d criticized Trump voters. I should accept the results of the election and move on. He said Hillary Clinton showed a lot more class than I did. Bob said he hoped both parties could work together to make America great again.
I agree Clinton was extremely gracious to the opponent who viciously attacked her and threatened to imprison her. So was President Barack Obama, whom Trump falsely accused of engaging in an absurd, life-long conspiracy to fake his U.S. citizenship so he could become president.
Clinton and Obama did what decent politicians do when elections go the other way. Trump, a spectacularly indecent politician, threatened to do just the opposite and attack the legitimacy of the election unless he won.
Trump: An American Tragedy
As an idealistic, progressive voter, I’ve voted for plenty of losing candidates over the years. But there’s never been a U.S. election before where I’ve considered the results clearly un-American until now.
That’s because this country has never before elected an openly vile presidential candidate like Trump, whose campaign from beginning to end was based on provable lies and ugly threats against minorities in this nation based on their race or religion.
We have never before elected a president endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. A Klan “Victory Kavalkade” parade and rally is planned in North Carolina in early December to celebrate.
That’s not an election you just move on from and let bygones be bygones. That’s especially true when Latinos and Muslims are now living in very real fear in this country they could be rounded up by a New American Gestapo Deportation Force breaking down their doors.
Any hope Trump didn’t really mean his hateful campaign rhetoric threatening minorities ended when Trump appointed Steve Bannon, the white supremacist former chairman of the racist and anti-Semitic propaganda website Breitbart News, as his chief White House political strategist.
In David Remnick’s election assessment in The New Yorker, “An American Tragedy,” he describes Trump as a knowledge-free vulgarity who “will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other.”
Increased attacks on minorities are not theoretical. They’re already happening. White Power demonstrations disrupt high schools. Black, Latino and Middle Eastern students are being physically attacked on college campuses and bullied in high schools and grade schools.
Semi-illiterate graffiti defaced a fence in Downtown Durham, N.C., across from a popular black restaurant declaring: “Black Lives Don’t Matter and Neither Does Your Votes.”
One of the most shocking findings in the exit polls was that many white voters knew exactly what a terrible human being they were voting for. Nearly two thirds of all voters disapproved of Trump, considered him unqualified to be president, dishonest and untrustworthy. Yet many voted for him anyway. Such was the power of blind hatred and anger in this election.
Those same exit polls exposed the dark side of religion. An overwhelming 81% of white evangelicals and born-again Christians voted for Trump despite his well-known history of violating nearly every Commandment in The Book.
Democrats can certainly cooperate with Trump on issues where he’s very occasionally right. That includes Trump’s plan to spend $550 billion at historically low interest rates to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and create millions of jobs.
It was the Republicans who blocked a $478 billion, six-year proposal by President Obama in the 2016 budget to do exactly the same thing. They didn’t want Obama to get credit for improving the nation’s economy and putting struggling workers back to work.
Democrats also will definitely support Trump’s promise to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s repeated attempts to drastically cut them.
But it should be the duty of every patriotic American—Democratic, Republican and independent—to fight relentlessly over the next four years against every abhorrent, unconstitutional and indecent Trump proposal to devastate human rights, increase economic inequality and create even more misery for white, black and brown people at the bottom in an uninformed, bigoted billionaire’s twisted version of democracy.
I’ll never forget Kit and I hugging each other with tears of joy in our eyes eight years ago after the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president.
We had tears in our eyes again when we hugged each other last Wednesday morning. They were for our country.