“Yeah, but that could never happen here.”
It just did, America. We elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.
Sure, an actual majority of Americans rejected him. But we still elected him, and that’s all that matters.
It’s funny when it isn’t us.
Oh, we were full of sniggers when Britain voted itself out of the E.U. Hi-lar-ious. Those wacky Brits!
Our own Brexit from Decency isn’t so funny now. There’s no need to go into President Trump’s litany of sin: we’ve bathed in it for months. We can’t seem to scrub it from the inside of our eyelids, or block its tinny echoes out of our eardrums.
He’ll never get elected.
There’s an 84% chance he’ll lose.
42%, 36%, 6%…
And we watched the map start to bleed redder and redder, and we wondered, is this how they felt in Germany in 1933?
Oh, sure, Godwin’s Law. There has to be a Hitler reference, because of course there does.
My wife and kids are Jews. I don’t have the luxury of not thinking about Hitler.
I have to think about the unthinkable happening, because my wife’s grandmother escaped the pogroms. The wine glasses I use survived the Nazis; I drink out of Holocaust survivors. The unthinkable isn’t something that is ancient history: it happened to people in my family, around objects I use every day. It’s not history: it’s memory.
And it can happen again here, because it just did. Trump happened. We can only hope he doesn’t turn his wall inward and start fencing in Muslims, Mexicans, and the Media. We can only hope that when someone says something that he doesn’t like, he doesn’t casually suggest that they should be lynched within earshot of his rabid dogs. We can only hope that when the war crimes he’s promised get underway, the victims aren’t us.
We have to hope, because we sure as shit can’t count on the Republican lapdogs in Congress to stop him. Paul Ryan? Don’t make me laugh. I’m not in the mood.
A failure in the American experiment
In a few months, President Obama will hand the nuclear codes to President Trump.
Does anybody think this is a good idea? I would guess you’d be hard-pressed to find a significant plurality of people who voted for Trump who are really cool with him having his finger on The Button. This is a terrible idea.
We are going to let a xenophobic, racist, sexist megalomaniac into the White House. We’re going to let him. We aren’t going to fight back. We’re not going to shoot at him. We’re going to give him the keys to the front door. And when he tells us to jump, we’ll look at one another and down at our feet and we’ll get to hopping.
Because that’s how it works in this American experiment. And that is a total, utter failure.
We know he’s evil. And we’re going to do what he tells us to, because he’s the President, and you do what the President says. Even if he’s evil.
Because if you don’t do what the President says, then it all falls apart, doesn’t it? The American experiment in democracy crumbles. We have a leader whom we’ve democratically elected, and if we actively rebel against that leader, then we are saying that we no longer have confidence in American democracy to do what’s right.
I mean, sure, call for his impeachment and spend years demonizing him and his wife. (Oh, but that’s Bill Clinton.) And definitely don’t let him fulfill his Constitutionally imposed duty to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. (Oh, but that’s Barack Obama.) As long as it’s Congress trying to break the system, that’s just politics.
If it’s a soldier who doesn’t want to turn a key, that’s a court martial.
We’re going to obey evil orders. It’s going to happen. And that is a failure in the American experiment.
America is not special
If I’ve learned anything in the last twenty-four hours, it’s that it can happen here. To all my black friends, who’ve known that practically from birth, who’ve watched their children die while playing in parks… I’m sorry. I’ve been so slow to see what I was never forced to watch.
To my female friends, my wife, my daughters, who kind of knew deep down that they shouldn’t expect equal treatment, and who now have to deal with the fact that the misogyny really is coming straight from the top all over again… I’m sorry. I knew how bad it was, but I thought it would be different this time. I thought we’d changed.
We haven’t changed. And we are not special.
We are just plain, ordinary folks, us Americans. And boy do we fuck it up sometimes. We think we won’t, but we do. We think we haven’t been for the last two hundred years, but we have. We have this rose-colored view of ourselves, but when everything is rosy you can’t see the blood on your hands.
Our optimism can be our greatest asset, and our most terrible hubris.
We’ve had a failure in our great American experiment with democracy. We’ve really fucked it up. But we may just be optimistic enough to keep trying. Because a failure in the experiment is not the same as a failure of the experiment.
That’s how an experiment works, right? You pose a hypothesis, you test your hypothesis, and you evaluate how your results prove or disprove your hypothesis?
If we thought we were special, now we know we aren’t. If we thought that it could never happen here — because we’re America, dammit! — now we know otherwise. There’s nothing about this being America that makes bad things not happen. Hypothesis: disproved; myth: busted.
We tried counting on American exceptionalism, and we got the guy who is literally the favorite of the American Nazi party. So if we want to stop him, and stop the bad guys, and we know that they aren’t going to stop themselves just because ‘Murica, who are we gonna call?
I think it’s time to stop looking around to see who’s going to help us. That takes our eyes off the threat.
You want to know what you can do? It’s time to look forward, head high, and meet the threat head on, you, personally. Its time to figure out what you’re good at, and do that, for good. Every day that Donald Trump is President, we owe it to the world to fight back.
Are you an artist? Paint a picture of a better world. Are you a talker? Don’t let the angry voices be the loudest. Preach love from the rooftops. Can you run like hell? Find a charity race and kick its ass.
Are you a fighter? Fight.
Not a fighter? We need you, too. We need your calm, your steady hand. We need your love and your kindness.
And in the face of the mob and the media and the whole world that is telling you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree by the river of truth and tell the whole world,
“No, you move.”
Photo credit: Hijabi Hooligan [https://www.facebook.com/HijabiHooligan/]