I wore black today. I knew the Electoral College would shuffle Trump into the White House, in spite of all the petitions, in spite of the popular vote, in spite of the fact that the man they advanced is a fascist, egomaniacal, narcissistic con man. They knew what they were doing. Their eyes were open. They have no delusions about who and what he is. He is the man they wanted. Now they’ve got him.
Gods help us all.
Like so many other Americans, my feelings about this entire election are chaotic and intense. Like so many others, I am terrified of that this man will do to our country, and, by extension, to the world. Never before have I had so much empathy with the German people of the 20th Century, my ancestors, my kin, many of whom saw the rise of Hitler and his Nazi party as something horrible and evil. Never before have I felt such fear of my fellow citizens, the uneducated, fundamentalist zealots who hate anything different with unmitigated passion, bereft of reason, bereft of any shred of compassion or empathy.
I cannot fathom living like that, embittered and angry all the time. That kind of hatred is poisonous, evil, and it apparently fills the “heartland” of America, blinding them to higher brain function and making them easy prey for a sleazy salesman who could not possibly care less for their welfare. They have been duped, manipulated, conned. Worst of all, even when they see his lies, they make excuses for him. Like battered wives, they have a limitless supply of excuses why his opinion matters more, and why, even though he breaks his word and does hurtful things, he only does these things because he loves them.
I expect that violent crimes against women, people of color, people of non-Christian belief systems, and anyone remotely LGBT will continue to grow. It has already begun, and it will only get worse. I expect that law enforcement will become more heavily militarized. It won’t be long before tanks and Hummers, tactical gear and high-caliber automatic weapons are commonplace on American streets. It’s what the zealots want. It’s what police unions want. And it feeds the climate of fear and oppression that justifies the perceived needs for such extreme measures. It feeds the fires of an “us vs. them” mentality on both sides of any conflict that arises. It pours gasoline on the bonfire.
Many people more politically savvy than me have analyzed and expounded on how we got here. But to my mind one thing stands out above many others.
We became complacent.
Nearly half of the American citizens eligible to vote DIDN’T. Several of them are friends of mine, and we have talked about the why. Ultimately, they felt it didn’t matter, that no matter what the politicians would do whatever they want. They believe that their voices are not heard in Washington. And they see each new election as “business as usual.” They believe that nothing will change, that those in power do not care, and that there is no point in them showing up because it would not make a difference.
I cannot dispute their beliefs because I watched as the lines between “Republican” and “Democrat” blurred to the point of illegibility. I witnessed the endless compromises and concessions made by people who claimed the higher ground, all the while doing the same “Potomac two-step” as those they professed to disdain. The Democratic party let us down. They have no message, no mission, no purpose, no spine. They saw the warning signs and ignored them. Now we will all burn for it.
The people who voted for Trump were really voting for change, change of the status quo, change from the indifference from our government, change from their sense of powerlessness and despair. I understand this, and I empathize. I also know that change can be dangerous. Like the fortune cookie says, Be careful what you wish for. One way or another, for better or worse, change is a-coming!
In my worst nightmares, Trump and his cronies will destabilize International relations and antagonize other nations to the point where we will enter a third world war. Even if they don’t, it’s as good as given that there will be another major attack on U.S. soil, and when that happens the Patriot Act will be used as the tool to strip away civil liberties more than ever before in our nation’s history. We will have concentration camps, and uncounted innocents will die.
In my lesser nightmares, Trump and his ilk will disassemble agency after agency within the Federal Government. The FDA, EPA and other regulatory safeguards will be gutted, all in the name of corporate profit. Public lands will be privatized, sold, mined, and despoiled. Again, innocents will die, from hunger, from toxins, from side effects from drugs that went to market untested, and from food processed without any kind of oversight to ensure sanitation or safety, for workers or consumers.
I want to believe that the chaos about to ensue will ultimately lead to better days afterwards, that after we pass through a time of madness we will emerge, repentant and regretful, horrified by our own acts of destruction and cruelty against ourselves. Without doubt, a great many eggs are about to get smashed to smithereens.
If we survive the chaos (and, no, I don’t see that as a given), I hope we will put fascism and hatred behind us for a time, long enough for us to rise higher than ever before. Even through the darkness, that is a dream I will work towards.