Thursday, November 10, 2016

5 More Thoughts on the Election

"Breathe, John, breathe"  That's what I keep telling myself, knowing that I'm going to have to venture out into the world in about ninety minutes, talk to people for the first time in person and not through the lens of an iPhone.  I keep saying "don't say anything out of frustration or pain" because those are the times that you say things you know you shouldn't, but feel cathartic at the time.  My entire plan is to just say "I don't want to talk about the election" and move on to the business of work and of going to see Ina Garten speak tonight.  Though I haven't spoken to another person aside from a ticket teller in the past 24 hours-is the earth still spinning?  Do people still exist in real life or are we now just hovering over our social medias, afraid to go out into the world again out of shame?

These are my stream-of-consciousness thoughts today, and I'm going to share a few more on some of the things that I'm seeing on social media, and going to get a few thoughts on reactions around social media off of my chest, because I feel like I can more safely rant on a blog that I write where literally "rantings" is in the title than in real life where I don't feel as comfortable anymore.

1. Stop Saying "Hillary Clinton wasn't the Right Candidate"

If there is anything more annoying than Monday morning quarterbacking after an election, I don't know what it is.  If you didn't say it on the day before the election, you can't use that as an excuse afterwards.  I was watching "Keeping it 1600" for about five minutes on Periscope and then Tommy Vietor said "clearly Hillary Clinton wasn't the right candidate for the country right now" as if to put this blame simply on Hillary Clinton because she lost, and I couldn't take it anymore.

For starters, the guys on that program should have just spent the entire hour apologizing for letting their egos get in the way of their own judgment, berating Democrats for "bedwetting" and treating Trump like a joke.  As a straight white male, Tommy, I don't want to hear your Monday morning quarterbacking about Hillary Clinton specifically not being the right candidate because when people say that here, there's two problems with it, the most obvious being: you mean she wasn't the right candidate because she's a woman.  

Let's not pretend here-Hillary Clinton was repeatedly, constantly attacked for her gender on the campaign trail. I watched so many pundits, no matter what she did, beg her to apologize, re-explain the same things over and over and over again, talking about her voice and her smile and her warmth, and after a while, I realized it was simply code for "I don't want to like her, and you can't make me."  That's all it was, and it would be foolhardy to assume that someone like Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand would have been able to overcome the same thing.  I'm not saying a woman can't be elected president, but it's hard to say there isn't clearly a Bradley Effect going on here, and it's even harder to state that America is ready for a female candidate after a man who is being accused of sexually assaulting twelve women just beat arguably the most qualified presidential candidate in 28 years.

The second problem with this line of reasoning is the fact that she was the best we had, and no one else was going to be able to beat Trump either.  Sorry, but it's clearly true looking at the exit polls.  We had no way of knowing this, but Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz were our best shots at taking down Trump.  Don't give me Bernie Sanders fan fiction here-you don't think Sanders would have been attacked with the same sort of intolerance and bigotry that Hillary Clinton was?  You don't think that Sanders wouldn't have been treated as the "Other' in a way that Hillary was?  And don't tell me that it would have helped that he was a progressive-liberal dream candidates like Russ Feingold and Deborah Ross lost by more votes than Hillary Clinton in their states, not less.  It wasn't a lack of progressive credentials that kept liberals home-if they didn't vote, it was because they didn't care and never were going to be able to do so.

And don't give me Joe Biden, because the unspoken factor here is that Hillary Clinton lost not only because people wanted to reject a woman on a national stage, that the media normalized Trump in a way that was intensely, horribly irresponsible, but also because there are parts of the country that hate Barack Obama so much that they were willing to throw the planet down the drain just for the opportunity to defeat him one last time.  Let's not pretend that this wasn't a strong, strong rebuke of the president.  I love him, you love him, but that is the ugly truth here-there are sectors of this country who have never gotten over having a black man as president, as difficult as it is for us to hear, and this was their last chance to say so by voting for a candidate who validated their every bigoted thought about our president.  We now have to watch President Obama meet in the White House with a racist who spent years feeding lies about his place-of-birth.  Don't you dare blame Hillary Clinton for the kind of hatred that makes people joyful to see something like that.

2. "It's All Going to be Okay"

I keep seeing it, and let's be honest here, I keep seeing it from straight, white men, for whom it may well be okay, but it's not going to be okay for the rest of us, because we remember what history forgets.  I know Republicans find it oh so fashionable to worship Ronald Reagan, but Ronald Reagan's presidency was not something "liberals lived through."  I can tell you that as a gay man who spent most of his youth assuming that he was going to die from AIDS.  Ronald Reagan is not the "Morning in America" president to me-he is the president that let thousands of gay men die from a disease that he couldn't even be bothered to mention because we weren't fit to help-it was a gay problem, a way for god to punish us.  Reagan to me is someone who hated gay people so much that he would rather let us die than try to find a cure or a way of prevention because it wasn't political expedient.

George W. Bush's presidency we didn't all live through either.  Look at the cost of the War in Iraq, a war we went into based on false intelligence.  Look at the cost of ignoring global warming for eight years and for ignoring the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Presidencies have consequences, and if you're in a position of privilege, they affect you less.  But don't just say "it'll be okay"-if Trump and Pence administer half of the things they've promised on the campaign trail, it will decidedly not be okay.

3. The Country Rejected Your Candidate Too

This one I gotta get out here-the majority of American voters rejected Donald Trump.  A plurality of voters wanted Hillary Clinton, possibly by as much as a million voters once the votes are tallied.  It is just because for some reason a person in Wisconsin is more valued than a person in California that Republicans won the White House.  In the past 24 years, only one time have more voters said "I want a Republican" more than they've said "I want a Democrat" when it comes to the presidency.  The electoral college is a relic of days gone by that puts more value on the few than on the many, which is something that might appeal to Donald Trump, but it shouldn't appeal to any of the rest of us-more American voters wanted Hillary Clinton to be president than Donald Trump, just like more American voters wanted Al Gore to be president sixteen years ago than George W. Bush.  That is a travesty, winning the presidency on a technicality that makes select voters more valuable than others based on arbitrary geographic lines, and so we should be mad about it.  A man will govern the country that the majority of voters said they didn't want.  That's wrong-Donald Trump's mandate is based on a constitutional clause, not on the will of the people.

Side clarification because I'm getting a lot of comments and a bit of harassment for an article that I wrote a bit ago about faithless electors on social media right now.  First of all, I wrote that article weeks before the election as a reaction to a Hillary Clinton elector who was planning on not voting for her despite promises to do so-it had nothing to do with what happened Tuesday night, so please check the date.  Secondly, I stand behind it on principle-it would be wrong for electors in Arizona or Michigan or Wisconsin to back Hillary Clinton after the voters in those states clearly said they wanted Donald Trump; if we eliminate the ability of the people to trust the electoral college without removing the electoral college, it takes away our trust in the electoral process and we can't get that back.  Third, the electoral college is an archaic system that disenfranchises millions of Americans' voices and should be destroyed, leading to simply a winner based on the popular vote.  End of story.

4. White America Voted for Trump

White liberals and progressives, we need to just suck it up and take it a bit right now.  It's not easy to hear, but it's right to hear-you look at exit polls, and it's hard not to see the very clear racial lines of this election.  White Americans delivered a victory for Donald Trump Tuesday night, in particular white men.  After a campaign where the candidate for president berated communities of color and still won, and to see those racial divides in exit polls across our country, anger is understandable and needs to be heard.  Do not get defensive about criticisms and frustration from communities of color toward white America right now, even if you voted for or campaigned for Clinton.  Listen, acknowledge, and take it as a call-to-action to be an ally and an advocate and to make sure we never see what happened on Tuesday occur again in a future election.

5. I Am Not Going to Respect Trump

I'm sorry, I know this isn't the right attitude.  I heard two personal heroes, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, implore me to work with Donald Trump.  He will be the president of the United States, but I just can't respect him.  I was able to get there with George W. Bush, perhaps in part because I was still a child when he was first elected and perhaps because I could see where his political views came from and believed in his central tenet that democracy should be for all, even if I felt that his ways of getting there were misguided.  But I can't do it with Donald Trump.  It's not possible for me to respect a man like that-I see in him everything that I have stood against my whole life, and I see in him every bully that made my life hell growing up.  He's the same guy that called me homophobic slurs on the playground and threatened me in high school.  He's the guy that makes me run to my car after leaving a date and click the lock button before even starting the engine.  The hatreds he so quickly indulges are the ones that make me feel lesser.  I can't celebrate someone like that, I can't respect someone like that.  I'm aware that people I admire like Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and Tim Kaine will need to work with him-I'm aware that the country can't just hit the pause button for four years, and that laws and budgets will need to be passed.  I won't begrudge them that when they come to me in four years and ask to be my Democratic candidate.  But I can't do it.  I hate myself for saying it because I have admonished people for years for not respecting President Obama, and I'm making a hypocrite of myself, but I can't do it.  If it had been McCain or Romney, sure.  Jeb or Kasich or Rubio or even Cruz, I think I could have gotten there, but not this man.  Not this hateful, bigoted man.  Donald Trump will be America's president on January 20th, but he will never be mine.

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