As I write this, the results have not all come in yet, but I'm kind of tired and heartsick about the whole election and how it's shaken out even if somehow, by some miracle, Hillary Clinton does pull it out. The polls and the pundits were misleading, and it looks like the Trump campaign touched something in many Americans that motivated them heavily. It didn't motivate them on an intellectual level, but hit them in the gut. It told them that what they always thought was going wrong with America was the enemy, and they had a champion who would fight their enemies.
The enemy was change. Progressive change. Political correctness, multiculturalism, diversity. Hell, throw in the values of the uppity women who can't take a joke--those feminists who think talk of "pussy grabbing" as disturbing. A lot of progressives this cycle thought "Why don't we just be more progressive?" Sigh. Here's the problem. The Trump movement managed to take charge of a backlash against what the Obama Administration and so many of us fought for and got ahead of the demographic changes we thought would preserve those changes for the time to come.
What we didn't take into account--what the media didn't take into account, what the elites on the left never necessarily took into account, what a lot of activists never took into account, was that change brings anxiety. The anxiety we face now as progressives, and many of us as marginalized people, isn't unlike what some working class whites convinced themselves they were facing. Was that anxiety as rooted in reality? No. I truly don't think so. The label of "economic anxiety" in light of the actual recovery under President Obama doesn't really indicate that the Trump voter had it so bad--
Only, here were all these POC's and queers up in their face, (not really up in their face, but it felt that way to them) trying to tell them that not being on board with accepting their equality was somehow bigoted or less-than. So here's what they did--they suppressed the vote all over the place to minimize the impact of POC voting. They used divisive language that aimed at using refugees, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, as demons so as to divide us, and they shrugged off women's and LGBTQA issues with non-specifics (although if you know who Trump's running mate is, you know we have all the reasons to be concerned on that score).
Now, the upshot of all this is--a lot of this is sheer bigotry, no question about it. Conscious/unconscious/subconscious--I don't care, and I don't like it. But I think the reason we were hearing this backlash framed as "economic anxiety" had to do with the idea that there had to be some payoff (other than psychological) for sticking it to "them"--the immigrants and all. Wouldn't pushing the heck back on them equal nice jobs and good pension plans for your deserving average 'Merican?
Of course the fuck not. The threat of Trump gaining the presidency is draining the value of 401K plans right the hell now. Is Trump pretending he's all rah-rah about the US's prospects against all our enemies foreign and domestic going to actually amount to actual successes? Why the hell would it? He is a total naif about foreign policy. There is no good reason to think he would be really good at this, his boasts about knowing more than the generals aside.
The media demurred from calling it all out as the con it was and is.
Now I could be mad that there was no better candidate that ran on our side in the primary than Hillary Clinton (sorry Bernie folks, but she did beat him in the primary on the basis of votes), and I could be mad that 25+ years of cable news did all they could to make her toxic by amplifying every "scandal" and never amplifying why those "scandals" were bogus. I could be mad about FBI Director Comey's feckless fuckery regarding the emails, but that wouldn't have even been a thing without the media's complicity. I could blame Clinton herself, for just not being perfect, but no feminist should ever, ever, hold a woman to a higher standard than she would ever expect of a male candidate, and I won't even start that.
I sure am mad at Johnson and Stein voters. Didn't we learn from Ralph Nader in 2000? Is it possible to be that disconnected from reality to not understand that your vote for someone who will not win only means fucking with the votes of people who were trying to vote for the people who would? People stood in long lines, hot lines, thirsty lines, took time they could not afford off from work, for your picky ass to front like Jill Stein isn't anything but some species of parasite? Like Gary Johnson isn't just a weirdo with half a clue and half a cause? But maybe we can even understand the third party anger and their choices. Maybe our two-party system didn't give them schools that taught math or civics.
I pass as an American in the Trump future--I'm whiter than white and all my grandparents were born in the US, to put it Ann Coulter's way (although how many southern African Americans and South Eastern Latinx can boast the exact same, yet not pass as a Trump culturally-approved citizen?) and I can behave as a cultural Catholic and maintain my current straight (bi, damnit!) ID. But this election wasn't about me or my ability to survive. It was about all of America being better off, together, vs. being squared off and pitched against each other. It could have been about whether we wanted experience, dignity, capability, inclusion--whether we wanted to try a more modern and egalitarian way forward.
But the Trump movement extolls the backlash--the return to ethnic and social division, religious bigotry, fear, and maybe even the execution of an enemies list from someone who has singled out the media and various politicians for locking up or trying for treason. To make America great again, for a value of greatness that has no generosity of spirit, empathy, or actually even sound economic or foreign policy bona fides. The ground will be watered with the blood of patriots who didn't especially deserve it. I lay the groundwork for this spectacularly uninformed and conspiracy theory-driven movement at the feet of the GOP. Take of this, and eat. It's your communion with the vacuum of solid information and valid policy-making you have long eschewed for solidifying white supremacy and validating grievances.
I retire to bed sadder but wiser about what my country stands for. I'm not without hope, but I have doubts and reservations that will go on for the foreseeable future. And the unforeseeable future as well. Is Roe V. Wade at risk-yes. Planned Parenthood funding--yes. Will we see a restoration of voting rights? No. All the gains we thought we were good with, are called into doubt now. And the ACA, gone. And the gains our economy made under Obama?
All this progress undone because some people needed America not to be good, but "great". For who, I still don't know. But I bet ever so many people who voted for it will learn--not them.