I promised to not turn this into a political blog and I intend to keep that promise, but the are too many spiritual lessons in these last few days to ignore. The entire country is in a tizzy over the results of the presidential election. People are fighting with family members, cutting ties with neighbors, and unfriending each other on Facebook. Those who voted for Trump are being called racists and homophobes. Those who are protesting the election of Trump are being called Snowflakes and told to just go to their safe spaces. It’s gotten quite ugly.
Many of my white liberal friends have literally been in tears for days. They don’t know how this could have happened. They are stunned that a man who has no policies and no experience was elected over a qualified woman. They are in disbelief that his right-hand man (Bannon) is an out racist and his Vice President is an out homophobe. I’ve had some who are upset that more of their friends aren’t more upset. One woman asked why more people aren’t speaking out about Bannon being in such a prominent position. We only have so much outrage. Save it, lady. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long four years.
I have so much to say about all of this. Let me see if I can try to organize my thoughts.
First, of all, if you haven’t seen Saturday Night Live from Saturday, November 12, go find the skit of the election night watch party. In the skit, the white liberals watching just know that Hillary is going to win. The two black guys in the room are not so sure. When Hillary loses, the liberals are shocked. The black guys are essentially saying “I told you so.” This pattern is not new. We know this is how progress always goes. My Buddhist teacher thought we had this one in the bag, but expected the whitelash in 2024. I actually expected it in 2012 and would have expected it in 2016 had the media and the pollsters been so absolutely dead wrong. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has studied history.
But, I promised you good news. Without further ado, here it is.
1.) Not everyone in the country voted for Donald Trump. In fact, not even a majority of the eligible voters voted for Donald Trump. Only about half of the eligible voters bothered to vote at all. Of the half who did vote, only about half of those voted for Trump. As of now, Hillary still has a lead in the popular vote and it looks like it will remain that way. But, let’s just go with 50/50 which is pretty close to accurate. Half of the country didn’t vote. Of the half who did vote, only half voted for Trump. That leaves about 25% or 1 in 4 of eligible voters who voted for Trump. Let that sink in. Most of us did not support a racist.
2.) Not everyone who voted for Trump voted for him for the same reasons. A vote for Trump is complicated. There was a bit of a protest value in a Trump vote. Remember, as of Tuesday morning, no sane person thought Trump was going to win this election. Many Republicans who went into that booth on Tuesday morning made up their minds at the last minute. They thought “What the hell? Might as well vote for Trump. He’s not going to win anyway.” They were morally torn because they have daughters or care about their wives or actually care about the rights of minorities. But, they could not bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. Yes, every racist voted for Trump, but not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist. But, here is an ugly truth. Anyone who voted for Trump ignored the obvious racist appeal, the alt-right connection and his reluctance to fully renounce the endorsement of racist organizations and ideologies. The reason so many on the left are so upset is not just because we lost an election but that many of our fellow citizens were willing to look the other way and vote for a man who represents the worst of our fears in our society.
3.) Trump is not a true Republicans or conservative. Trump is neither. He played one on TV for the purposes of this election. He was a Democrat most of his life. He was pro-choice at one time. He has been on both sides of every issue I can think of. Trump is a wild card. This is both the good news and the bad news. Pence is a true believer. Bannon is a true believer. Trump is not. He can drop the “baby Christian” facade now. He can stop pretending to be a Conservative. And, then we will see what we get.
4.) Because Trump is not a true Republican, the Republicans in Congress aren’t particularly fond of him. Yes, the Republicans held the Senate and the House despite dire predictions Trump might take the whole thing down in a monumental defeat. So, they should have some gratitude. But, Trump wants to invest tons of money in infrastructure, building a wall, deporting illegal immigrants, etc. Congress is not going to approve those expenditures. Trump and the Republican Congress will fight each other, minimizing the damage they can do to the rest of us.
5.) Very soon now, Trump’s supporters will realize they were sold a bill of goods. Those who hoped he wasn’t really racist will have to deal with looking at Bannon in a prominent role. Those who thought he was going to build a wall, will soon realize that was an empty promise. 11 million people deported? Try the Obama policy of deporting only the criminals. Muslim ban. Not gonna happen. Gay marriage. Trump said yesterday it’s already been decided by the Supreme Court. Case closed. It’s here to stay. Trump will face pressure from the right to live up to their expectations. Soon the protestors from the left who are protesting his election will be replaced by the ones from the right protesting his lies. Trump is going to spend a lot of time fighting and appealing to his critics from both sides. That will slow his roll.
6.) We have the Constitution- progress comes in fits and starts and sometimes we take baby steps back, but usually we don’t take giant leaps either direction. Slavery isn’t coming back. Gay marriage is most likely safe. Jim Crow isn’t coming back. Roe v Wade is in minor jeopardy, but the Supreme Court doesn’t like to overturn itself. Trump can’t spend a dime without Congressional approval. Republicans know they won this election by the skin of their teeth and that their party is still in deep, deep trouble. Hispanics and Black people are still avoiding them like the plague. They want to be viable long term and they know if they let Trump run amok, that is not good for their long term prospects. McConnell and Ryan were in Washington before Trump got there and they plan to be there after he leaves. They will check him.
7.) Trump might actually do some good. Imagine this for a moment. Trump comes out and says what we already know, he’s not a true Republican. He puts forth a bold vision that both Democrats and moderate Republicans can get behind and he cobbles together a coalition in Congress to get that done. It actually could break the logjam. You might say I’m a dreamer. But, hey, it could happen.
8.) Trump is what we needed to wake some people up. I am encouraged by the number of people who are so upset by this turn of events. I am encouraged by the people telling me “I want to stop being silent. What can I, as a white person, do? I wasn’t interested in politics before, but I am now.”. Now, can we maintain that passion for two years until the midterms or four years until the election? Only time will tell. But, looking at Trump’s face for the next four years should be good motivation.
It’s where you choose to focus that matters. The only way I have been able to survive the passing of Shayna is by changing my mind to focus on thoughts that bring me peace and hope. That doesn’t mean I’m a pollyanna. And if you’ve read this blog or you know me in person, you know I am far from it. I am a realist. But, every cloud, every single one, has a silver lining. Every event has some potential good that can come from it. We cannot change what has happened. We can change how we look at it and how we react to it. Join me in making orangeade from the orange our fellow citizens just handed us.