I spoke yesterday with a number of people I hadn’t seen since the election. I’ll admit, I’ve been preaching to (and, yes, listening to ) the choir for the last six months, more so since November 8. But I knew there were plenty of Trump supporters around; he did, after all, win the presidency.
Last night I was talking casually with two acquaintances when the topic arose. I suppressed my disgust a little (I don’t really care who knows how I feel) and there was general agreement that Trump was not a very nice person. And then one of them said that it didn’t make any real difference, and pointed out that the three of us had lived through many presidents and none of them had changed our lives appreciably.
I told him he was right, but I also suggested that three straight white men standing around chatting were not the best judges of lives changing appreciably.
•We were not Black people whose lives had been routinely taken by overzealous policemen and who faced the prospect of “Stop-and-Frisk Rudy Giuliani” assuming the position of U.S. Attorney General.
•We were not foreign students who have begun to withdraw applications to American colleges and universities out of fear of persecution.
•We were not Mexicans facing the very real prospect of deportation and the splintering of our families.
•We were of members of the Jewish faith who had witnessed a sudden and dramatic increase in anti-Semitic messages and attitudes, culminating in more instances of hate-induced graffiti.
•We were not women whose control of their reproductive rights is almost certain to be abrogated with the appointment of the next Supreme Court justice.
•We were not Muslims who had been cast en masse as terrorists and who, despite our citizenship and vital contributions to our democracy, would be designated enemies of the state.
•We were not transgender teenagers worried about something as simple as using a bathroom, or gays worried about Mike Pence trying to cure them.
•We were not the newly-insured who had gone without any insurance protection before the Affordable Care Act made the security of decent health care a reality.
•We were not children of any stripe whose lives had been made safer, less stressful, more normal by decades of anti-bullying education, only to see their new president tacitly sanction bullying as an acceptable strategy and tactic.
We were none of those: we were just three white men standing around, and I thought afterwards—we were the ones who always benefit from the presidency, because we are—in many people’s minds—the average American, and in the recent election, we voted for Donald Trump.
A recent study shows that Trump won not by rallying the disenchanted unemployed in Michigan, or the white supremacists in Mississippi, or the xenophobes in Indiana, but by convincing those who disliked both candidates and who planned to stay home on election day, to vote. And they did in unprecedented numbers, enough to suppress the votes of all the others to whom it mattered dearly. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/opinion/did-moderates-help-elect-trump.html?ref=opinion.
Here’s something we’re going to have to swallow: people we know and like voted for Trump. They voted for a man whose campaign embodied everything antithetical to the American spirit. Now our current president has requested that we support a smooth and peaceful transition of power—we can honor that request. But he didn’t say we had to be quiet or keep quiet or in any way tacitly accept that people we know and like made a terrible choice. We don’t have to be rude or condescending, but docilely waiting for things to get better is not a strategy—it’s a surrender.