We need to talk about last Tuesday.
By now we’ve all heard that Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. And, I’m sure we’ve all seen the social media posts blasting the opposition, disparaging each other from behind computer screens. When did our politics become so poisonous?
To tell the truth, I’m disheartened. And not because I didn’t vote for him.
Donald Trump does not scare me. Donald Trump is one man, and one man does not make up our entire government.
What does scare me is the precedent that has been set by electing him to our nation’s highest office. Trump will be ushered through the White House doors on Jan. 20, along with intolerance and ignorance.
I see it from both sides; hate spewed, respect ignored. Apparently we now live in a society where “telling it like it is” equates attacks on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, where being ‘politically correct’ is a sign of weakness, where ignorance is championed. It’s a society where we can make basic overgeneralizations based on someone’s political affiliation.
The attacks have already started. Reports are coming in from all over the country: a black woman being told to sit at the back of the bus by white teens, countless Muslim women having their hijabs torn off, a gay man having beer bottles smashed in his face, a Trump supporter attacked in the street, kindergartners telling their Hispanic classmates that they are going to be deported, the KKK planning a victory parade in North Carolina, a man witnessing an incident on a New York City subway where three men tried to grab a woman.
This is what terrifies me. The legitimization of these attitudes and behaviors are what terrify me.
No, not every Trump supporter is a racist,misogynistic, xenophobe, and it’s categorically unfair to say so. But every Trump supporter saw a racist,misogynistic, xenophobe and thought “Hey, he’d make a great president.” The cognitive dissonance is staggering. Trump’s supporters may not have had racist, misogynistic, xenophobic intent. But they have had racist,misogynist, xenophobic impact. Impact is always greater than intent. Trump is simply an enabler.
So, what next? Differing opinions are needed in this country – it’s what makes America ‘the land of the free’. But to be so divisive as to personally attack each other, to question a person’s patriotism because they don’t share our beliefs, to let the fear of our differences consume us, to be so disillusioned with our democracy that we don’t even participate in it? My greatest hope is that we recognize we’re all on the same team; we’re all Americans and we all want our country to succeed. If we can remember that we’re all human, basic dignity and respect can resume. Maybe if we remember these things, we can actually move forward.