I wanted to write this yesterday, but I couldn’t find the words or the energy. I think a lot of us had similar problems getting motivated after Tuesday’s election results.
We weren’t prepared for what happened, and while we can certainly be pissed off at the pollsters, it’s on us as well. We should have seen it coming the second Donald Trump got the nomination. He was preaching the gospel of hate and change. He spoke out, proudly promising to take care of our most irrational fears — you want to get rid of immigrants taking our jobs and Muslims who will eventually bomb us, Trump says he’ll do it. He appealed to people who thought the worst of folks who were different from them. He appealed to racists, homophobes, xenophobes and nativists. The worst of America loved Donald Trump.
But he appealed to good people, too. There are people who voted for Trump simply because he wasn’t what they viewed as a “political insider.” They believe that his plans to loosen environmental regulations and regulations on corporations and banks will stimulate the economy. They believe that he will “kick the shit” out of Isis. I think these people are wrong in their assessment of what Trump will accomplish, and it bothers me a lot that they looked past all of his hateful rhetoric because they thought he could provide the change they want.
But two days past the election, I am starting to see things more clearly and I think a lot of other people are, too. Protests started breaking out on Tuesday night and continued yesterday. Local activists called a meeting Wednesday night at the Ace Hotel to plan a strategy to protest Trump’s presidency — to make him accountable. And that’s what we should do. I think the calls for all of us to pull together and work for the betterment of the country are wise and fair. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to do it in the form Trump's supporters want. We need to pull together as a country, but that doesn’t mean we should sit by and wait for Trump to screw things up. There needs to be organization, there needs to be protest. There has to be a voice that says, "If you want us behind you, then show us you deserve our support." There will be people who say, “It’s imperative that we all get behind the President.” To that you need only to remind them of all the #notmypresident tweets after both of Obama’s election.
But I’m here today to say we need to snap ourselves out of the “we’re fucked” mindset and start working on the “we’re only fucked if we let it happen” mentality. After Tuesday, I decided to think of reasons to be positive, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
1. Trump’s a liar: We all know our new president has shown a penchant for not being honest in this campaign. And we’re not just talking about bending a few facts to fit his message, we’re talking about out-and-out lies. If he lied about so many other things on the campaign trail, maybe he also lied about doing the most heinous stuff he’s promised.
2. Trump’s Latino immigration policy might be only partly shitty. Trump has said he will clear this country of undocumented immigrants, and that whipped his fan base into a frenzy. But at the heart of Trump’s plan is something called touchback immigration. That means undocumented immigrants are deported and then allowed back in on an expedited visa process, an effort to give them legal status. It’s not ideal, of course, because it would be more pragmatic, as well as cost-effective, to leave folks who are here, here and just give them a path to citizenship without uprooting them from their lives. Trump and his surrogates have consistently hit on this point, even when his own campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, didn’t understand it. Trump has said, “I would get people out and then have an expedited way of getting them back into the country so they can be legal…. A lot of these people are helping us … and sometimes it's jobs a citizen of the United States doesn't want to do. I want to move 'em out, and we're going to move 'em back in and let them be legal.” While Immigration advocates don’t think highly of the policy, many of Trump’s supporters don’t, either; for many of them it’s not about undocumented immigrants, it’s about immigrants. A writer at the far-right Patriotreport.com wrote, “It will cost taxpayers a hell of a lot of money to deport these illegal aliens. And, really, what’s the point of spending all that money to kick them out if you’re just going to let them return in that convenient revolving door in your big, beautiful wall? In truth, it probably won’t require a full 'deportation force' since many will happily leave because they know they’ll be allowed right back in. And not just allowed back in, but allowed in with legal status.”
3. Trump promised to bring back steel to Pittsburgh: I laughed at this nonsensical promise at the time, but now that he’s elected, I expect him to bring tens of thousands of steel jobs back to this region. It should be easy, since he’s already committed to destroying the environment in the name of progress. I’m getting a hard hat and throwback lunch pail in anticipation. At the same speech, he promised to bring Joe Paterno back. It could be a good year for nostalgic Pennsylvanians!
4. The Democratic Party is going to be scrubbed clean. For years, I’ve talked about being pissed off by the rebranding of the party’s same old candidates as “progressives.” Again, up until true progressives started gaining power through grassroots organizing and protest, candidates like Hillary Clinton didn’t support same-sex marriage, and instead opted for “civil union.” In fact, it was her husband who signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Barack Obama was more progressive than Hillary Clinton, but he too, was a civil-union guy until a few years ago, and both he and Bill Clinton sucked when it came to handling immigrant rights. The Democratic National Committee is a shit show that blew up when the email hacks provided evidence of the concentrated efforts to scuttle any chance of a Bernie Sanders nomination. Just like the Tea Party changed the shape of the GOP (although somehow it made it even more vile), there is now a chance to change the direction of the Democratic Party, and that won’t be a bad thing for the 2018 midterms or the 2020 Presidential election.
Despite any positives we are able to take out of this election, the fact is there’s a lot of work to do. A lot of Trump's supporters, a shitload of evangelicals, made votes based on shaping the future of the Supreme Court. That puts marriage equality at stake, that puts Roe v. Wade at stake, and that puts election protection at stake, along with a whole lot of other civil-rights issues that I can’t even begin to comprehend.
Trump is a misogynist who boasted of groping and kissing women against their will; that’s still the definition of sexual assault, and that hasn’t changed. Trump is still extremely questionable on LGBT rights. While he’s correct on the transgender bathroom issue, he’s pretty lousy on everything else. I worry about the Affordable Care Act. While it certainly needs to be tweaked, killing it without a reasonable replacement that keeps the previously uninsured insured would be devastating to this country. He’s also a nightmare when it comes to issues like mass incarceration, racial profiling and giving police officers even more leeway that could lead to even more shootings of unarmed black men. After all, he’s one of those clueless “All Lives Matter” people who doesn’t care enough about anyone else to understand what the Black Lives Matter movement is about.
We still have a voice and we realized on Tuesday we need to use it more effectively. The bottom line here is, the next four years are going to be tough; they are going to be a challenge. We’re all going to be frustrated and tired and bruised; but we won’t be pushed around.