Millions of US residents are reeling from Tuesday’s election, resulting in the nation’s first failed steak salesman to become its 45th President. Friends beyond our borders are both laughing and mourning with us. Screens are ablaze with Facebook posts, tweets, grams, and snaps of people crying themselves to sleep. And then they woke up on Wednesday morning to find themselves crying all over again.
But why so many tears? Is it really going to be that bad?
For many, it already is that bad. Anti-Trumpsters have flooded social media accounts with demands that any friend, family member, or mere acquaintance instantly unfriend them and cease all contact. In other words, if you voted for Trump, you and your candidate are the antithesis of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, women, disabled people, veterans, people of color, and have now publicly declared yourself an enemy of the people they love most.
It’s not that people feel like they’re being attacked, disenfranchised, ignored, threatened, etc. They are. In the last 48 hours there have been hundreds of thousands of reports of men grabbing the genitals women passing by, hijabs yanked off of heads, bricks thrown through livingroom windows reading GO HOME, storefronts and public buildings marked with swastikas and promising the rise of white supremacy once again. Journalists have received threats if they continue to print negative media on the President elect.
More than that, there is the promise that we can expect worse. Confidence among this brand of Trump supporters is strengthening by the hour. And it is terrifying because this is behavior that the President elect has encouraged throughout his campaign and has emulated throughout his entire life.
“But that’s not why I voted for him!” Ah, yes. What about those people? What about the Trump voters who hate the man but need change in Washington like they need air? How did this happen?
Middle America woke up and showed up to vote, which is not something that many people expected. Yes, there was Comey, Clinton emails, Wikileaks, Weiner emails, pneumonia, the Basket of Deplorables, etc. But Trump still won and it was probably going to happen whether it was Clinton or Sanders. Why? Because Donald Trump is unlike any candidate we have ever seen. Middle America was being left behind and when Trump came riding down that escalator, he put the spotlight on them and got on their level. He’s a billionaire Everyman charming a country that wasn’t feeling so great. He could say and do brash and hateful things for which the average citizen was punished. Until now, he had no political experience and that made him a relatable hero to the people. Even to the middle class with whom he has nothing in common. For his supporters it felt like they were winning the lottery – only this win had nothing to do with chance. The Trump train prepared. Or at least the GOP did. After Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, that Grand Old Party got together and did some math. Yet again, they had lost the minority vote, the LGBTQ vote, women, the middle and lower class – basically everyone expected to celebrate a win for Clinton on November 8th. So they did a study on their dying party called the Growth & Opportunity Project. An autopsy. They prepared for a 2016 win and outsiders had no idea it was happening.
According to the autopsy, they met with, spoke to, and polled over 52,000 people in and out of Washington and prepared for the, “incredible opportunity on [their] hands.” (Growth & Opportunity Project, 2013). The 97 page study examined previous wins and losses to take the temperature in swing states, urban and rural communities, and with social minority voters to ask and answer why Republicans don’t care. Their target demographic shifted from your wrinkly rich uncle to Hispanics, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, African Americans, Women, and Youth. More than that, they appointed those minorities to leadership positions to stay tapped into those groups as the country changed and developed throughout Obama’s second term. This is not to say that Clinton and the DNC didn’t do their own homework– she told us she did. But so did the leaders of the RNC, even if Trump still doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. And they’re playing the long game. In a 2013 press conference, RNC chair Reince Priebus declared that, “The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic or community or region of this country.” There is a vast divide in the US when it comes to sex, gender, race, and class and the RNC found a way to use it to their advantage. They realized that they would never claim another victory until they looked up and out of their own party and rebranded. The brand they landed on was TRUMP.
So now the election is over and people from all corners of country are icing each other out. Whether you voted for Trump because you’re an unabashed racist, you care about the unconceived and unborn, you’re an alpha-male, or simply because you desperately needed something new, there’s a chance you know someone who never wants to speak to you again. And if you’ve posted that status or blasted that tweet, reconsider. Because here is what happens if we do that. We give up.
Don’t stop talking. Don’t shut anyone out. Yes, I have a cushy perspective being a white, cis gendered woman, but I hate this too. I know that this only touches the very tip of the iceberg that is the fear of a Trump presidency, but we will continue to have those conversations for a long time. Now it is time to get going. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” So get and emotional and get organized. Show up to protest and keep your city from burning to the ground. Tell your Trumpster cousin that you’re pissed as hell and keep talking to them. Talk to your wrinkly rich uncle. Talk to him about how this is threatening your safety. Blog about the man who assaulted you and write to your representatives in Congress to tell them what you need from them. Use the best words. The biggest. The Uuugest. Pay attention. Every single day.
Right now the mere thought of it is exhausting. Didn’t we spend the last year and a half doing that already? Don’t women already have a guy like Trump in their office? Haven’t people of color been doing that their whole lives? Haven’t people already died trying to protect themselves from a President who admits to walking in on naked teenagers? Aren’t we supposed to be beyond conversion therapy ? Yes. But we are clearly not done. Even if the President elect does not reflect a single value of this country. Even if the staple of Checks and Balances gets ripped out. Even if our Supreme Court is about to be turned upside down. Fight for this country and propel it forward like your life depends on it. Because it does. Republicans, Democrats, and third parties are not the enemy. Apathy is. We can’t Rip van Winkle until the next election. We have to keep working and demanding equality because our President elect won’t.
Our Constitution begins with “We the People,” meaning the responsibility is on us. We belong here. We need to stop hearing stories of civil rights activists like they’re things of the past. That’s us. We are living in it right now.
Here is how you contact your representatives for all 50 of these United (divided) States. And here is a list of organizations who will need your support and attention. Get to work. Again and again and again.