#NotMyPresident: On Hatred in the United States
November 11, 2016 Erica 0 Comments
On November 8th, 2016, I voted in my first U.S. election.
On November 9th, I woke up to find that this country had determined that its next president would be a racist, homophobic, sexist, wrinkled walnut.
I’d like to preface this piece by mentioning that I am a white, middle-class, US-born citizen who is 19 and therefore covered under my parents’ insurance (provided by their work). And while I and my family fall into plenty of other categories considered “unacceptable” or “unworthy” in Trump’s America, in all likelihood, a Trump presidency will not affect me in an overtly negative way.
But it isn’t about me.
This is about the hundreds of thousands of people across this country, even outside of it, who watched as the United States, a country of immigrants and “freedom” and “equality”, elected a man into the presidency who represents anything but the principles of this country. This is about the hundreds of thousands of people who woke up to a blinding message from this country spelling out how little they matter. This is about the child met at school with chanted slurs and the woman told her time’s up because of her religion and the people terrified of celebrating who they are in fear for their safety.
Never in the history of this country has someone so unqualified and inexperienced won the presidential election. A man whose own campaign team revoked his twitter account so that he was unable to tweet anything thoughtless in the final stretch of his campaign. A man who lists physical attributes of his opponents or their families as a reason not to elect them. A man in the midst of a fraud investigation and multiple allegations of sexual assault. A man who insults war veterans for not sacrificing enough for this country or for their religion. A man whose campaign was based on hatred and ignorance, with a complete lack of actual policy plans.
And that’s the real problem, isn’t it? Let’s face it, all Trump did was amplify the hatred in this country. It’s not like we lived in a Utopia prior to his campaign and he somehow corrupted all of the progress we had made. He came down an escalator with a message of racism and fear, and the people of this country, a horrifying amount, followed him right up to Washington.
I honestly don’t know how to explain this; I’m at a loss of words. Maybe I’m naïve, but I never thought we’d be here. It was funny when he came down that escalator and announced he was running for president. It was less funny when he became the Republican nominee for president, but it was still fairly amusing. It stopped being funny when he claimed he could shoot someone in the middle of the street and not be affected. It stopped being funny when he openly admitted and detailed his history of sexual assault. It stopped being funny when he called on foreign countries to hack his opponent for classified US documents. It stopped being funny when, despite all of this, the polls got tighter and tighter.
Because despite all of this, the people of this country rallied behind him for “telling it like it is” and standing up for “what America represents” by openly displaying his racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Finally, a candidate not concerned with other human beings or their lives, one filled with as much hate and selfishness as they are.
This isn’t about policy disagreement. This country has operated with this democratic system for over 200 years (although George Washington gave us simple instructions that we immediately ignored, nice job America), and a peaceful transition of power is the foundation of our governmental system. Differences on taxes or education or economic strategy is one thing, but the belittlement of human life is an entirely separate, and unacceptable, issue.
I don’t know how to explain what this election has revealed amplified about this country, and I don’t know how to address the hatred that fuels this kind of thinking and these actions. People are people are people. That’s it. You don’t need to understand someone or agree with them or even like them to recognize that they are as human as you are; their lives matter and they deserve basic human rights and respect. I don’t understand plenty of languages, that doesn’t mean I’m going around insisting they aren’t real or they’re against nature or they’re somehow inherently evil. I vehemently disagree with Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean I’m insisting we lock him up for his crimes without a trial or create laws against his general existence.
As a side note, I’ve seen a lot of the “jokes” about assassination that have popped up on the internet, and that’s definitely not ok either. We should be better than this. Trump is a human just like the rest of us, he has a family and friends (theoretically) who care about or rely on him, and murdering anyone is not funny or a solution to anything. If for some reason the taking a human life portion of the issue is not enough to persuade you, we wouldn’t be any better off with Pence as president either.
Possibly even more dangerous than Trump, Pence is an actual politician with just as hateful views about the world as the orange pleather he ran alongside. He penned a letter urging employers not to hire members of the LGBT+ community. He opposes abortion even in the case of rape, opposes separation of church and state, opposes Obamacare, opposes Birthright Citizenship for children of immigrants, and supports loosening restrictions on gun control. He also supports conversion therapy, meaning he’d rather have a dead child than a queer one.
This result has only validated the worst parts of the worst ideas in America. Trump’s election has provided a sort of permission for these people to attack, belittle, insult, and terrorize anyone in this country who isn’t exactly like them, anyone in this country that they deem unworthy of existence for no particular reason other than their hate and self-absorption.
The point I’m trying to make is I’m tired and worried. I recognize that I am lucky to be privileged enough to be tired rather than absolutely terrified, but what this country has done, to itself and to the world, is inexcusable.
This is more than a difference of opinion. Real people are unsure if they’ll live to the end of this presidency. Disabled people fearing for their access to healthcare, immigrants and people of color and women and the LGBT+ community fearing for their safety and basic rights: this is what a Trump presidency will do to this country, what it has already begun to do.
If you are part of any of the groups of people who now have genuine reason to fear for their safety and future in this country, I want you to know that this isn’t Trump’s America. We won’t let it be. He can add his name to the list in our history books, but he will never represent the ideals and true foundation of this country. We must continue to vote against tyranny and protest hate and protect civil rights. You are important. You have every right to live here and love here, regardless of the hate that seems to overwhelm the society around us.
I hope you stay safe. I hope you stay happy. I hope something changes. I hope we learn from this and grow from this and become the great country that we claim ourselves to be.
I hope we all wake up in a safer and more peaceful world someday very soon.