Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Well, This Sucks

It goes without saying that I was surprised and disappointed in the outcome of the election. I am sad that come January, we'll have President Trump. I am not interested in dissecting what went wrong for Hillary Clinton, and to be honest, I may never be. I had hoped to see her win for many reasons bigger than myself. But I had come to realize that her winning would help me expel some of the poison I absorbed during the 90s, which were, as I noted on Twitter yesterday, a very tough decade for ambitious women. That was not to be, but that I'll need to find a different way to move past the crap I internalized is not the tragedy of the night. I am heartbroken that a new generation of women has just learned what I learned from the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings in 90s: that in fact, men often really can get away with treating us terribly and still advance to the highest peaks of their professions.

But honestly, even that is less heartbreaking to me than the message this election sends to Black people, Muslims, Latinos, and really all people of color. My husband, ever the optimist, believes that a lot of people voting for Trump did not intend to send a racist message. If that is true, I hope those Trump supporters will join the rest of us in repudiating the rise in racism that seems to surely be coming, because the racist message was indeed received, not just by the people of color but by hate groups like the KKK.

I think voter suppression in Wisconsin and North Carolina played a role yesterday, and I think Republicans should be ashamed of the fact that they are turning to voter suppression to win. But I also think this election shouldn't have come down to the votes of people of color. A majority of white people decided to elect Donald Trump, and we will need to reckon with that to find our path forward to the better country I think we can become. No, I don't know how we reckon with that. Waiting out the inevitable demographic change is too slow for me, and the number of white millennials who voted for Trump reinforces the message that racism and sexism are self-propagating. If we want to overcome them, we will have to work for it, not wait for it.

I want us to find a way to reach across the divide so that next time (and make no mistake, there will be a next time), more white people recognize the racist message of their vote and refuse to send it. Awhile back, I tweeted that I thought the people from "Trump country" explaining those voters to the rest of us would be more useful doing the reverse: explaining us and our reality to the Trump voters. I hope some of them take up that work. Somehow, I want to find a way to contribute to that, although the only attribute I have that would recommend me to a Trump voter is my white skin.

But those are thoughts for another day, a few weeks from now maybe, when the reality has settled in and no longer churns my stomach.

For today, I am hoping for the best as Trump builds his transition team and then his cabinet. I am celebrating the growth in the number of women in color in the Senate. They will fight hard for what is right. I know that some will want the Democrats in the Senate to turn the filibuster against Trump as the Republicans used it against Obama, but I would prefer they save it for the egregious cases. Save its power to block appointees from the Breitbart wing of the party. In other cases, negotiate and try to find a way to protect what we can of the Obama legacy.

We need to get used to the idea that large portions of that legacy will be rolled back, and we need to decide which portions we will try to save. My heart also breaks for the people worrying about whether they'll have health insurance this time next year. I will be interested to see what the Republicans propose in place of the things they want to roll back. So far, all I know is that they want to cut my taxes. I've heard Trump wants to start with an investment in infrastructure, and I actually agree with that (and so did Hillary Clinton), so I'll be happy for it if it comes to pass.

I still believe Trump is a threat to our democracy. If any of the worst of the things he promised on the campaign trail come to pass, I think history will be a harsh judge for the Republicans who saw the danger but did nothing to stop it. But I don't hope for that outcome. I hope for the best: an incompetent, embarrassing President who does some damage but who leaves office when his time comes. You can be sure I'll be working to elect Democrats to congress in 2018 and to make Trump's time in office end in 2020.

But that, too, is work for another day. For today, I will fall back on what I learned from my years growing up as a Democrat in a very Republican area of Arizona. In those days, I learned to accept that I would often be on the losing side, but that it was worth speaking up for and working for what you believe in, anyway. Have a good cry, and then get back to work.

I learned that one of the best things to do when the policy decisions don't go your way is to look for ways to mitigate the harm you think they will do. You'll feel better, and you'll do some good in the process.

And I started to learn the value of a strong internal moral compass, although I was too young then to really know how it would be tested. I hope everyone in this country spends some time today locating their internal moral compass, and thinking about what beliefs are up for temporary compromise for the greater good and what values cannot be bent. I especially hope that everyone in government thinks about that today. We have given them a heavy burden to bear, I fear.  The rest of us need to have their backs if they have to stand up to any egregious orders.

And yes, as I wrote earlier this year, I'll be staying here and working to make this right. I still think there is a center to hold. But my husband and I have started talking about when we would leave.

10 comments:

  1. Alexicographer8:12 AM

    Thank you for this.

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  2. Yeah - we're also staying for now. But talking about what indicators would get us to leave. Unfortunately, my husband is black and my son is Latino. We have what I feel are legitimate safety concerns - I'm honestly terrified that my son might interact with law enforcement in a deadly way. My husband knows to grovel. My son is intellectually disabled and mentally ill, and he absolutely will escalate. I pray that will never cost him his life.

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    1. We will keep fighting for police reform. It will be harder without the justice department at our backs, but I think the real change was going to come from local action, anyway. This is a huge setback, but not the end of that fight.

      Still, I think everyone gets to prioritize their own safety first. I will not cast aspersions on anyone who leaves because of this.

      Don't hesitate to reach out if there is some way your internet community can help!

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  4. We don't have the option of leaving. But, we did discuss the importance of helping our daughter stay in CA, which has the broadest safety net in the US. Just as foreign travel helped me find my American-ness, living in Colorado helped me learn that I am a Californian by choice as well as happenstance (being raised here by my parents.)

    http://sd24.senate.ca.gov/news/2016-11-09-joint-statement-california-legislative-leaders-result-presidential-election

    "California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future."

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    1. I loved that statement. It made me proud of my state. We have a lot of work to do in California, too- I've seen pictures of some sickening graffiti, and a friend told me she found racist fliers on her car at a Target in East County- but it feels like we have momentum in the right direction here.

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  5. Cloud, I appreciate your honesty and balance in this awful time. I am so aware in the last 24 hours of my urge to blame-- first others (the third-party and sign-in voters in swing states whose votes cost Hillary the election), then I blame myself for not having done enough to save our fragile democracy. A friend and I were discussing our compassion--or lack of-- for Trump voters. I predict we're going to see more anger, not less, as Trump supporters wake up to the reality that manufacturing or coal-mining jobs are not going to magically re-appear. I wonder who they will blame then. We do have a problem in this country with the underemployed under-educated, but Hilary and Obama were not the source of the problem, and Trump will not fix it. I don't know what the answer is.

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    1. My big fear is that because of the anti-Semitic rhetoric in the campaign, when Trump cannot deliver on his impossible promises, he (or the racists he has gathered around him) will turn the anger of his supporters on Jews or some other group. I think we have to watch for that and be prepared to counter it.

      I've been thinking that perhaps the best lesson Democrats can take from this outcome is that we need to build better capacity in the red states. I think we've written too many off as unwinnable. Perhaps they are in most years, but then a year like this happens and we don't have the local politicians we need. I don't know how we fix that, though.

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    2. I too am fearful of what will happen to our society's marginalized populations (including women) during a Trump presidency. I don't have to love my president, but I do want to feel confident that s/he has our collective best interests in mind. We've been given no reason to believe this with Trump. Actually, quite the opposite. With all our post election liberal talk of seeking to understand the Trump supporters (we're so liberal with our quest for understanding), I appreciate you pointing out the need for them to understand our reality. After seeing the state voter maps Tuesday night, and talking with Londoners the day after Brexit, it occurs to me that many of the rural voters who support these fringe movements are fearful of what they are geographically removed from and don't really know. Namely, the racial integration of our cities. Those who more directly experience the integration, by and large, seem to be more accepting. Why is this?

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    3. I don't really know, Pam. Possibly it is just that it is easier to fear the unknown. Possibly it is that humans are group oriented animals, and we have trained ourselves over history to form groups based on race, but that people living in places with a lot of diversity have started untraining that. But I don't know. Those are just guesses.

      To be honest, I think a lot of Trump voters were not actively trying to be racist. I think they just didn't fully consider the impact of his racist speech and policies, because they didn't know anyone who would be hurt by them. So it didn't seem as important as other things. I still think they voted for racism- Trump wasn't subtle about this, it wasn't something you could miss. But I don't think *they* think they voted for racism.

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