I have been trying all day long to figure out how to respond to the aftermath of the ugliest election I have ever had the misfortune to witness. Like most people, I was stunned by the results. Even Trump himself didn’t see it coming, and those whose job it is to predict things like this were utterly blindsided. I watched in shocked silence until I could watch no longer; then I thought perhaps I could just sleep until 2020, but that didn’t work, as I awoke in early afternoon completely cognizant of the disaster that likely awaited me online.
Since then, I think I’ve been going through the five stages of grief, with the clear emphasis on depression. I admit it: I spent a very long time crying. I don’t usually cry over politics, and I wasn’t doing that today either. This was not politics. This was something far beyond politics. I’ve said it before and many, many others have as well: what Donald Trump represents is not politics as usual. There is a reason why no major newspaper in the country endorsed him. There is a reason why even conservative papers called him an existential threat to the country. (If we ever needed proof that the era of newspaper endorsements is over, this pretty much does it.) His election validates his xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, bullying, anti-LGBTQ, anti-science, petty, vindictive, venomous campaign in all of its facets. One cannot cast a vote for him without simultaneously endorsing the way he has run his campaign and the fact that he has given voice to the ugliest part of the ugly underbelly of America. He was actually endorsed by the KKK, for Christ’s sake. And this is a man my fellow Americans just decided was fit to be President.
So I cried. I cried for myself as an LGBTQ person, a woman, a progressive, and an American. I cried for my country, which clearly has divisions within it that are deeper than any of us ever realized if nearly half of it actually believes this man is its salvation. I cried for the world, on which his policies will without a doubt have a terrible and potentially irreparable impact. I cried for my children, and for all children born and unborn, for whom life—which might have become much better under another progressive regime—is about to enter an era in which it is likely to become very dark indeed. I even cried for the people who foolishly supported this buffoon: if he does even half of what he says he will, their lives, which were on the verge of finally improving under the recovery Obama authored, may be flushed down the toilet forever.
Of course, I don’t really expect him to do most of what he said he would. That’s the real joke on those people: they have no clue what they elected and neither do we. The one thing, though, that we can count on is this: he will pass his insane tax plan because that will personally benefit him. And it won’t make one iota of difference that it will cause those who supported him to sink further into the mire. As to the ACA, who knows? Maybe the GOP will do what they said and repeal the thing. Or maybe, now that their bluff will actually be called, they will realize what a huge bloody mistake doing that would be, since it would suddenly throw twenty million people off of the insurance rolls as well as returning us to the good old days when companies could take pre-existing conditions into consideration. They may well decide to take that one more slowly. It wouldn’t be the first time they suddenly decided there was good in something they’d previously called a disaster. And as for SCOTUS, well, who really knows what kind of person he’d appoint?
What we do know is this:
The GOP and their voters are fully responsible for whatever happens now. As far as I’m concerned, I hope for some kind of heavenly intervention in which absolutely everything works perfectly, he comes around on climate change, the economy somehow booms, his followers (happy now that things are going so well) realize that they were wrong to blame others for their own prior failings and offer olive branches to blacks and Muslims, and all is right with the universe. If that happens, I’ll be perfectly happy to shout how wrong I was to worry from the highest mountaintop.
I’d say that has far less chance of happening than, say, Trump being elected in the first place. So I’m left with a few alternatives:
Well, it’s a lovely thought. And I have on several occasions considered expatriate retirement. It is, however, easier said than done. And it feels wrong to leave others to fight (if fighting is actually possible this time) while I run away.
OTOH: If indeed ACA is gutted, my daughter and her husband may be forced to leave for medical reasons. Should they do so, I will probably follow them; they should not have to expatriate themselves alone.
It would be easy. The future as Trump has painted it is a completely depressing one. And any future influenced by LGBTQ-hater Mike Pence is even worse. I suppose I could easily just hide from the world for a couple of years, hoping for a 2010-like election in ‘18.
Do what I can to fight.
This is by far the hardest choice because it forces me to act as if I believe that there will be a real democracy post-Trump, and in all honesty I am not sure I believe that.
If I can get past that core issue, though, doing whatever I can to continue the fight for progressive causes in the face of what will likely be the heaviest opposition they have ever had would be the most positive thing I could possibly do. And, as a retired person, I could probably do a lot.
Of these, the only one that makes any sense to me is the third one (unless I am forced into leaving by a repeal of the ACA, as noted). It will not be easy to do. (Hell, it won’t be easy to drag myself out of bed in the morning in Trump’s America.) But it’s the right thing to do.
This does not mean I’m not angry. I’m very angry. I’m angry as hell at anyone who cast a ballot for this horrific person despite seeing so clearly what kind of man he is, especially those who justified their terrible decision-making skills by saying “Hillary is just as bad” because it doesn’t take a freaking genius to know that there is a fundamental difference between messing up on some emails and the vast number of things Trump has done. Hell, Trump is about to go to trial on two of them! So, yes, I am really angry at those people. And I’m angry at the people who voted third party not because they sincerely believed in Johnson or Stein but because they detested Hillary. Again: these people are fools, and if they live in some of the very close states that Trump won (Florida, anyone?) they helped tip the election to him. And I take that personally because he stands for everything I hate.
So, yes, I’m angry. But I’m going to channel that anger into action. I won’t be able to do it right away—I’m not stable enough yet—but by next week I’ll be looking for as many places to give my time and treasure to as I can. And I urge those of you who hurt as much as I do to do the same. We can cry over this debacle; it’s OK. But now we need to look ahead to 2018 and fix it.