Today is a sad day for many of us. Last night and early this morning we watched as racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, bullying and the status quo won the presidential race. The irony, they won in the name of defeating the establishment. A 70-year-old billionaire born with a silver spoon in his mouth positioned himself as the outsider and the champion of the working man and we bought it. We watched as the privileged took their country “back”. How far back they will take us remains to be seen.
Today my Facebook newsfeed is filled with dire predictions by my friends who are shocked by this development. People are wondering how they will fare financially with trickle down economics, what will happen as racism is normalized again, what will happen to the Supreme Court, etc.
We survived before and we will survive again. What we tell our children is the same thing our parents told us when MLK was shot, when JFK was shot, when churches were bombed in the 60s. We must endure. We have done it before. We have to keep working. We have made great strides over the centuries and those strides have accelerated in the past couple of decades, so much so that they have awakened a sleeping giant to “take their country back”. Just like we watched in shock and horror in England as a wave of protectionism and nationalism plunged them into chaos with Brexit, we have watched as Donald Trump used fear and division to take our country backwards.
This war is a long one and there will be many battles. Some we win. Some we will lose. We tell our children this is one we lost. We were not as far along as we thought we were. We still have work to do. It doesn’t mean all is lost. It doesn’t mean our daughters can’t be President one day. It means Hillary Clinton will not be President today.
I’m not interested in getting caught up in the autopsy of what went wrong. What if we had nominated Bernie Sanders? What if third party people hadn’t voted for Gary Johnson? What if James Comey hadn’t put his hands on the scales in the last two weeks? What about Russia? What is done is done. What if is a useless question. What is dead is dead. It doesn’t matter how it died. Some are doing an analysis of the mistake(s) we made. I don’t think it was a matter of mistakes. Trump cobbled together a coaltion of homophobes, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, the economically distressed and traditional Republicans who eventually came home given the choice of the unknown of Donald Trump and the known of Hillary Clinton.
Eight years ago I was shocked when Obama became the first black President. I was surprised when he won reelection. I had no idea I would see a black President in my lifetime. Asking for the first woman to follow the first black man was too much. I woke up yesterday morning wishing Shayna could be here to see history being made again, so quickly and glad that Kayla was going to be able to. I went to bed with the opposite emotions. Progress isn’t as far along as we dared to hope.
I’m also not interested in doomsday prognostications about the future. Just 24 hours ago not many of us thought Donald Trump had a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. So, we’re not so great at predicting the future. What I have learned in the 50 or so years I’ve been following presidential elections is the outcome is never as dire as those who lost think it will be and never as great as those who won imagine it will be. It won’t be all sunshine and roses. It will be worse than it could have been, but we have not elected a king. As you go about your day today, remember what it was like the last time your side lost a presidential election and how dire things seemed then. And look, here you are still here.
We must go back to work. Literally, most of us have to work today. We have to make plans for tomorrow. We, as people who want to see progress, must keep our heads high knowing that this battle is a temporary set back and we will come back and win the next one. And if not that one, we will win the one after that.
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