America, you great unfinished symphony, what have you done?
What have we done?
Why did this happen?
Whose fault is this?
And what do we do now?
What have we done?
In the earliest hours of the morning today, America appointed a misogynistic bigot to the highest office in our country. A legion of other bigots, racists, and misogynists were elected to the House and the Senate. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Supreme Court, too, is now at risk. The division of power in this country was supposed to keep us safe from tyranny, to protect the will of the people, but what happens when the will of the people is bigotry?
President Obama has served for eight years, slowly repairing the economic damage of the Recession while increasing access to healthcare, women’s and LGBT rights, and more. And in one fell swoop, his legislative legacy might be wiped away by hate and ignorance.
America has elected a reality show star / failed businessman with no record of serving in public office as our next president. This man received an endorsement from the KKK and our nation’s first black president will need to shake his hand and give him the keys to the kingdom. This is the America we live in. This is the choice that America made.
America elected a man who rode on the backs of bigots to the presidency. A man who powered his brand on denying that Black Lives Matter. A man who profited off of turning man-gry white Americans on Muslims, Latinos, and immigrants of all kinds. A man who clearly doesn’t give a fuck about abortion, one way or the other, milking evangelicals for their anti-choice votes.
America has decided that we can live with an ideologue vice president who believes in LGBT conversion therapy and deporting undocumented children.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, every branch of our government will now be controlled by those who supported these fools. They will call the shots in every way. This is the reality. This is the America we live in. This is the choice that America made.
Why did this happen?
The short answer is, white privilege. The slightly longer answer is: a compound of misogyny, white privilege, and voter suppression.
White privilege in action: telling people to calm down about these election results.
White privilege in action: thinking today is a disappointment and not a tragedy.
White privilege and misogyny in action: the idea that we didn’t have a choice this election year, and the idea that Trump and Hillary were cut from the same cloth, that they were “both equally full of shit.”
We had a choice between a demon in a bad wig and a deeply qualified but flawed and non-charismatic woman. And the idea we didn’t deserve to feel good about whichever candidate we voted for this year was almost as toxic as, you know, literal voter suppression, the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, our stupid ass, gerrymandered-to-hell districts, and more.
People don’t turn out to vote against a bad guy — they turn out for candidates they believe in and even before the email scandal, hell, even before Benghazi, we’ve been steeped in messaging about how we shouldn’t feel good about voting for Hillary. Hillary Clinton is a public servant with a breadth of legislative accomplishments. She has also supported harmful, racist, and problematic legislation in the past that we — her supporters — should stay critical of. But at the end of the day, her opponent, AKA the current President-Elect of the United States of America, literally received an endorsement from the KKK and has constantly worked to undermine our free press.
And a failure to recognize that you don’t have to say “I hate brown people” to be racist is at the very heart of all of this. White people who say that accusing Mexican immigrants of being predominantly rapists and criminals isn’t racist are the folks pushing Trump to the forefront. You do not receive a KKK endorsement if your candidate isn’t racist. Our liberal quips about bad ombrés weren’t powerful enough to put out this fire. Case in point: every unfortunate PoC who will have to fight with a blissfully ignorant asshole on Facebook today about whether Trump is racist or not because he never said “I am a racist and I love racism.” These fuckheads are proud to stick it to the degenerates that lost today because they think they’re taking back their America — an America without the entitlement programs they don’t know they depend on, but at least they might be able to get away with violence against people of color, so that’s something.
As far as voter suppression goes — Here’s just a sample:
- Misleading, inaccurate voter ID signs
- The dismantling of the Voting Rights Act
- Fewer places to vote, especially for PoC
- Just, all of this bullshit
- Districts that look like this in order to keep the white vote strong:
We’ve seen conservative politicians gloating over the ways that disingenuous “voter fraud prevention” laws disenfranchise potentially democratic voters. Districts like the one above aren’t an accident of fate and we all know it.
So when you combine all of these factors:
- Liberal voters that are ashamed to vote for Clinton
- Racists excited to vote for a shittier, more bigoted America
- Potentially democratic voters’ inability in places to fully exercise their right to vote
- A system designed to lessen their impact even when they can vote
You get a Trump presidency.
Whose fault is this?
Not even third party voters, necessarily, whose votes counted just about as much as we all expected — even though they entrusted their vote to two thoroughly unqualified candidates because, emails? (However, some believe Johnson stole more votes from Trump than Johnson and Stein did from Clinton and if that’s the case, how mad can we really be at the third-party voters?)
So who do we get to be mad at? Who can we blame for our new racist, pumpkin-headed overlord?
For starters, for all the hemming and hawing from conservatives that don’t appreciate Trump’s pussy-grabbing antics, those folks still voted for him because Trump carried white voters and conservatives both. White women included. Thank your conservative Mee-Maws for this, white liberal voters. Because for all of Tuesday’s Susan B Anthony voting memes, white women voted for Trump more than we voted for Clinton.
Does the fault, then, rest with millennials who weren’t committed enough to converting Gramma to the Pantsuit Nation? I’m tempted to say no, because as some folks found out this election year, white supremacy is more integral to some families than the liberal white grandchildren that tried to confront it on social media. For a lot of us, we didn’t think we could do anything to change that hate into progressive steam.
And I can see how my “no” is steeped in the white privilege that got Trump elected in the first place. Did we fear that we’d lose our families if we spoke up, and did that fear keep us from making waves? As we head into a four-year cycle that could dismantle everything we’ve worked for over the past eight years, as we millennials are now old enough to start purposefully bringing children into this fucked up world we’ve inherited, we have to ask ourselves, was it worth it? Was placating your racist Aunt Cheryl worth all of this?
I regret my own complacency in this election cycle. I voted and encouraged others to vote. At first, I tried to hash things out with loved ones. I did my Basic Ass White Girl Voter Level Best — all thinkpieces and “I voted!” selfies and no real heart. But I live in Texas; we saw this national shitshow play out on the state level two years ago, and I let my weariness and defeatist attitude cloud my activism and my zeal. I bought into the messaging that I should be ashamed of my vote, and as a result, I didn’t fight as hard as I could have. I want to defend myself and my complacency and the times I backed down to avoid conflict but at the heart of it, I know that I was a goddamned coward. Who benefits from this admission? Not the loved ones who would be safer and more secure if I had tried harder.
Look, I know that nobody needs to read another needlessly long, wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth longread from a Sad Feels white activist intent on raking herself over the coals, but I implore all of my white liberal brethren on this one:
White liberals, maybe we need to sit with this despair for a minute because we all could have done more. So maybe instead of figuring out who else we can blame for this or telling people to calm down, we sit with the realization that people will die because of this — Will. Die. Hard stop.
And maybe our white liberal wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth ignores the people actually responsible for this shitshow — the racist misogynists who voted for Trump in the first place. So keep calling those folks out when you can, if you can, as long as you can.
(And sometimes fighting with Racist Aunt Cheryl isn’t even about what Aunt Cheryl thinks. In college, a very wise friend of mine cautioned me against spending all of my free time fighting with diehard anti-choice activists about increasing abortion access. She pointed out that my energy was wasted on the activists — if my arguments were strong, they might never persuade those most diametrically opposed to my views, but might persuade fence-sitters. So the next time your racist fam picks a fight with you on social media, gear your arguments towards the “both parties are crooks” folks and not the person throwing the loudest and most hateful vitriol your way).
What do we do now?
I don’t know about you guys, but after a calamity, there’s nothing I find more comforting than a list with concrete next-steps on how to relatively mitigate disaster.
But I’m not going to sugarcoat it:
We’re fucking fucked.
But there are a few things you guys should keep in mind:
Remember that half of America did not vote for Trump — half of voters in a system erected to circumvent potential Democrats voted for Trump. The folks most vulnerable in a Trump presidency are those with the least access to the polls, least informed about the candidates and initiatives on their ballots, and most likely to think their votes don’t matter.
So we at least have a place to start. Other than that, here are a few suggestions on getting through the next four years, one step at a time:
-Check in with your loved ones to make sure they’re all okay
-Keep an eye on the fucking news to look out for batshit crazy legislation
-If you have the ability to, go to protests
-If you have the disposable income to, throw your cash at the folks who provide services in our communities. Such as:
- Planned Parenthood, who needs you more than ever right now
- Local abortion funds
- Local and statewide health-based nonprofits (this directory of health-based charities and nonprofit services has a bunch of great places to start)
-Start working to improve voter access and turnout in your communities — become a deputy registrar, circulate info about ballot initiatives; I mean, it’s not a perfect solution but it’s not nothing.
-Support local and state candidates you believe in, because their legislation can be just as impactful to your daily life
-Even better: get involved with local and state politics where you are right now. Here in Texas, the organization Annie’s List provides trainings to help increase the number of Democratic women in office.
-Join a grassroots organizing group to stay informed about what you can do to get involved. Groups like BLM or the Showing Up For Racial Justice White Caucus (and many, many more) can help you do this.
-White liberal activists: if you can safely do so, talk to your conservative family members. You are allowed to take a step back, or cut contact with abusive and toxic family members — but if can safely speak up, you are in the best possible position to facilitate real change.
-Do whatever you need to do emotionally to work through this miasma of grief and anxiety — anybody who tells you not to grieve or worry can just shut the hell up
But even saying all of this, I feel deeply conflicted. It’s hard to rally folks around a common cause when we have two political parties: “the most privileged assholes” and “anyone with something to lose when a bigot controls America.” It’s hard to rally that latter “literally anyone with something to lose” group around an imperfect candidate. It’s hard to tell people to work hard to rock the vote when our districts were constructed to make them matter less, or encourage folks to run for local office when our next president has never held any legislative office whatsoever.
So I’m open to better suggestions, because I’m up for doing anything I can to help right now. If our best hope for a progressive future for all Americans lies in increasing voting access to disenfranchised voters, I’m all for it. If there’s some other way to protect as many folks as we can from an onslaught of dangerous legislation, I’m all for that too.
We have to protect those who are most vulnerable right now — we all have to support communities of color, LGBT folks, women, low-income families, people with disabilities — you know, all of us who risk losing everything in a Trump presidency. We have to work together in a broken fucking system that looked us in the eye and said it didn’t care what happened to us. It called us nasty; it incited violence against us; it threatened to rape or deport or murder us. So right fucking now, we are all we have.
The right has been shouting for years about the supposed erosion of their rights — the rights of businesses to pretend that they’re people. The right to die from preventable pregnancy complications. The right to beat the shit out of a journalist or a protester you don’t like. The right to kill an unarmed black man in broad daylight.
Has the language of freedom, of defending liberty, protecting our families, and fighting for our union always been the territory of bigots and hypocrites? We live in a nation built by slaves and fueled by genocide, a nation created by men who loved the idea of freedom, as long as it didn’t inconvenience them. But they sure loved the idea of crafting a more perfect union, didn’t they?
In the next four years, I want to co-opt that language, the language of freedom and liberty. We live in the “more perfect union” that the founding fathers fought for. We, the bitches, the immigrants, the gays, the epithets those fuckers tweet proudly because they’re too afraid to say them out loud, we’re a part of this goddamned free and imperfect union. They didn’t intend to include us in their declarations but our forebears forced them to acknowledge us anyway — at great personal cost. America is broken but the people who struggled to bring us this far didn’t struggle in vain. At least, I have to tell myself that to take a step away from all this despair and anger.
Here at POMEmag, we want to hear your truth and we want to support you. We want to shout your goddamned truth to the hills. We want to hear you and yell with you and scream with you until the words don’t come out anymore. This is our America, too; this is our home and we will fight to defend it from tyranny. We’re not fucking moving to Canada and leaving the people who need us behind to clean up the mess we left. We’re not pretending this didn’t happen. There will not be silence in the eye of this hurricane. At least not from me, and not from us. We love you, and we’re here for you.
In conclusion: Donald Trump is a racist misogynist who doesn’t deserve to be president and fuck every single part of this.