I am so saddened by the return of history.
History has never left, of course, but the racist, nativist, and misogynistic parts of our society have always been in retreat, it’s supporters, a dying breed. Overnight, swastikas appeared in South Philly. A cross burned in Kentucky this weekend.
With the election of Donald Trump, the far-right and fascist sectors have been vindicated, not because everyone whom voted for Trump is a bigot, as some think, but because fear won the day. I do not believe (nor want to believe) that Trump was made president-elect because of American’s hatred for minorities and immigrants. The problem is that even with all the new mediums of communication, we’ve never been more segregated.
We don’t, and therefore can’t, see the perspective of a single mother in the Bronx as a blue-collar worker from the South, nor the perspective of a Trump voter in Florida as a New York liberal (and I speak as one). Because of this, apprehension has built between disparate communities, leading to fear and, more troubling, resentment. Trump’s campaign was keenly aware of these divisions, not only tapping into pre-existing traumas, but actively nurturing them.
Despite all this, and Tuesday’s results, the situation is not too far gone (if we want).These communities have more in common than they are give them credit for (thank you SNL for pointing this out), but rarely come in contact with each other. As cliche as it is to say, we need to communicate and approach each other with compassion and understanding. So please don’t block or delete people you disagree with politically. Try and have a conversation (in person if possible) about where you do agree.
Not to get too deep into the “kumbaya” weeds though, it also needs to be acknowledged that some people who voted for Trump are excited to see the world burn. They’re looking forward to being openly prejudiced, to a chaotic brave new world where the bullies can feel secure in taking advantage of others. Their ideals, now sanctioned for use in polite society, must be drowned. It won’t be easy to do, especially since a lot of them hide behind online anonymity. The one silver lining is that these people are now emboldened, and are out in the open (there has sadly already been an uptick of this sort of discriminatory behavior). I say ‘silver lining’ because it gives us an opportunity to look these bigots in the eye and call them out, to make them uncomfortable, to reminded them, in no uncertain terms that no person is superior to anyone else. This is more easily said than done, I know, but we should all make it a priority.
In her concession speech, Clinton said, “please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” Neither this sentiment, nor what she and her followers identify as “right,” are liberal ideals. The freedoms of expression and identity are central to American individualism, a tenet we hold dear, but somehow this got lost and a tribalistic sentiments took over the American psyche. I do believe most people, when pressed (and I should mention here that I have been called extremely naive on numerous occasions), agree with this, but to ensure that the arc of our moral universe continue to bend towards justice, they need to be reminded.