Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Aftermath

I think I may have been living in a protective bubble throughout this election. Living and working in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties in Florida, I don't really meet that many people who were Trump supporters. I knew some, and I suspected others, but since my neighbors come out overwhelmingly for Clinton, or just not-Trump, in most cases, I just kind of figured that the rest of the state, and maybe even the country would be pretty much the same.

But I've learned a lot in the last few weeks.

We've been through the harshest, most divisive and hateful election season that I can remember, as someone who has been voting since 1992. I've see things around the country at Trump rallies that any other candidate in my lifetime would have treated like a pack of dementors circling their campaign and immediately attacked and disavowed. People physically attacking minorities, even women, at events, and that sometimes when the victim is a Trump supporter. But instead of attacking these actions, he incited them, with his words as well as his silence. I've learned things about people that I thought I knew, that I can't just unknow now. I've learned that some people in my circle of influence either don't care about the welfare and safety of my family, or have secretly had outright contempt for us. I've learned that many people really believe that anything that doesn't include being an active, card-carrying, hood-wearing member of the KKK could not possibly be racism, up to and including accepting the support of active, card-carrying, hood-wearing members of the KKK. Anything else - physically attacking people of color at rallies, shouting racist things like "Get out of my country" or "Build a wall," reinforcing stereotypes and making insulting generalizations, proposing unconstitutional and oppressive policies like "stop and frisk" - can all be rationalized and excused as anger at the system or economic despair or political impotence. I've learned that even people who think of themselves as "good white folks" will send an entire salad back to the kitchen if one leaf of lettuce is wilted, but don't mind swallowing their pseudo-Christian party loyalty even if it comes with a heaping side of racism and immorality.

And now, after over a year of the nastiest campaign I can remember, after a fight that was nothing but low blows and head butts, after nationally broadcasts of personal attacks that most people wouldn't allow in their schoolyards or workplaces, after manipulation of the voting system and outright cheating in the primaries, now I'm told that the election is over, and as we go back to our lives, we have a moral and logical responsibility to pull together behind our president. I'm told that we should all go back to the way things were before all of this, and work together to make this country great again. People are even comparing any opposition to Trump's presidency or policies to self-destruction, saying that hoping that he fails is like hoping that the pilot crashes the plane, when we are all on board with him.

The thing is, I may be on board the plane, but I don't like where it's headed. I didn't sign up for this, and if the pilot in your ridiculous analogy changes direction midflight, I'm going to make a stink about it to the attendants, and a bunch of us just might do what we can to prevent him from taking us all into dark territory. If that plane is really supposed to represent America, then we still have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly on board, we still have the freedom, and the obligation, to oppose our leadership when necessary, and not to stow our consciences in the overhead compartments until landing. That plus in-flight WIFI, I hope. I'm headed to Miami, and if the pilot changes direction and starts taking us to Greenville, I'm not just strapping in for the ride and going quietly with him.

Seriously, though, I'm not going to Greenville, you all.

But I don't even agree with the analogy from the start. I don't think this is a choice between supporting the pilot of our flight or crashing the plane in a fiery mess. I think it's more like hoping that the hijacker who takes over the plane misses his target. I think it's more like sabotaging the plane after someone takes over the cockpit, pulling out wires and snatching controls to keep him from using that plane to hurt large numbers of people. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Trump stole the election, even with the huge difference between the electoral vote and popular vote. Until we get either smart enough or angry enough to get rid of the electoral system, we deserve outcomes like this one. What I am saying is that I now have a president who has stated his intentions to use his office to attack and harm citizens of this country, including my family.

This may not seem like a problem to some, because some people either want to go to Greenville, or at least don't mind a four year layover there, as long as they get where they want to go. If Trump actually employs "stop and frisk" as his solution to urban crime, it's not their sons that will get stopped and frisked, detained and harassed, and physically harmed if they don't react to the violation of their rights in exactly the right way. I've already got family members being harassed by emboldened Trump supporters about being deported, and half of these family members are American citizens, and the children of citizens, not that it matters. To all of the Trump supporters who knew that he was racist, but put that aside because he convinced you that he was anti-abortion or pro-Christian or whatever, it must be nice to not have to worry about the hurricane because you've got shutters and impact windows, but my family is living in a tent out here. And for those who swallowed the red pill because they were so concerned about a liberal Supreme Court expanding abortion and gay rights, just know that some of us are equally concerned about an alt-right Court dealing with issues of civil rights, freedom of expression, mass incarceration, and immigration law.

So, no, I'm not going to blindly support a president whose policies threaten my family's future and safety. I'm not going to lay my voice on the altar of so-called peace or patriotism. I'm going to continue to follow my conscience, and hope that everyone else does as well, with all of the courage and patience and wisdom that it will take to get through the next few years. I'm going to obey my God and obey the conscience that He has given me, alongside everyone else who prizes goodness above party loyalty or America. If we had all lived the last year that way, we wouldn't be in this mess now.

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