We had an election and people took sides. That is the nature of elections. You have to choose, more or less, between your menu options.
But there are many, many reasons behind a person’s choice. It seems there is a danger, right now, in over-simplification. Namely, there is a presumption that if a person voted for Donald Trump that person voted out of bigotry, economic and ethnic isolationism, or related strains of extreme conservativism.
Hey, I voted for Hillary Clinton, and I feel I should say that for the sake of clarity, but today I feel more urgency in saying that we have to avoid over-simplifying the election results. To say that this election was a victory for hatred and prejudice gives real energy to that hatred – my friends are coming home to swastikas drawn in chalk on the driveway. To say that bigotry and regressive values have won the day is to tell bigots and racists that they have won. A Donald Trump victory does not have to mean that this is the case.
Did the man run a campaign of fear, isolationism, and hateful vitriol? I think any honest person has to say yes, he did. But is that why he won the election?
Here is what I want to say in the form of a syllogism: 1. Any Democrat was up against nearly impossible odds trying to get elected after a two-term Democratic administration. 2. The political scene in America has grown increasingly difficult when it comes to long-term politicians getting elected to the presidency. 3. Some people voted Republican due to policy issues. 4. The margin of victory for Mr. Trump was narrow even considering these factors. 5. Thus, there is no mandate for rampant hatred.
Racism did not win.
So many factors came together to elect the Republican candidate and it happened to be Donald Trump. We have to be able, for a moment, to take this in. We have to see what it means that this person was just a happenstance candidate and that any other Republican candidate would have won – and would have done so by also probably winning the popular vote.
What does this mean? It means a few things.
In our public understanding of what a Trump presidency means, we have to insist that his position as President is not equivalent to a tacit approval of racism, bigotry, sexism or xenophobia. Those who voted for Trump for reasons of policy, economics and the like should be the first brothers and sisters in protest against the swastikas and other demonstrations of moral weakness that are cropping up.
To argue that these election results are proof of a latent racism and bigotry in the United States is to invite the simple-minded to believe that they have a new freedom to be hateful.
In protesting the election of this president (if and when we do), we should focus on him and not on all the various factions that elected him because some of those people just truly believe that our health care system should remain private or that we should all get to have as many guns as we want and take them shopping with us. (There are good reasons to disagree with this view of health care politics and gun control, but we have to admit that these are not hateful points of view, not intrinsically based on race or intolerance, etc.)
It’s worth suggesting also that we remember this point: many of the same people that voted this year also voted in the last three or four elections. Most likely, the same portion of our country that voted to keep Obama out of office for reasons purely based on race also came out to vote for a white male this time around. No more and no less.
Our country has not suddenly changed. We should take some comfort in that. (Don’t laugh. I mean it.) If you weren’t worried about intolerance in August, maybe you shouldn’t be any more worried now. But that is my point here…
We have many reasons to be concerned. I don’t want to come home to swastikas in my driveway. No one should come home to that.
And, frankly, there is no way to not be unnerved by an event like that. There is no way to shrug that off.
And that is why I am writing this – to try to find a way to push back against the Hate Minority that has suddenly gained the stature of a perceived majority.
The small people are still small – in number and in all other ways. The rest of us are big. We win because we are the majority, moral and otherwise.
We are not just the future. We are now.
Keep that power in your heart.
This is, as you have seen, a message about society more than politics. The politics are scary enough with a President-Elect of unknown and possibly volatile tendencies, set to nominate as many as three Supreme Court Justices. But the social side is something that is partly up to us, right? I didn’t and don’t feel that I gave up my rights to safety and security after election day. And I don’t think anyone else should feel that they have suddenly gained the right to challenge my place here as a bi-racial, tax-paying, small-business-owning, teacher, artist, writer, Netflix-watcher and NBA fan.
No. That is not what this election meant. My apple pie still tastes the same – e.g., better with beer.
I am as American today as I was a week ago. Just a little bit wearier.
Let’s invite our media and politicians to speak up on this. Let them all say to their constituencies that Trump’s election does not open the doors to bigotry. Let the President-Elect himself say that Trump does not equal hate.
I believe that only a minority of voters made their choice with hate in mind. I speak here only in the hopes that this group should be made to recognize that it is outnumbered.