I’m at a loss right now. I can see clearly what has happened today, but I’m having trouble processing it all. Like any election, this was about more than foreign policy, more than economic policy, more than red vs blue. This was about our character as a culture, a people, and a nation. What we choose, and whom we present to the world as our representative, says more about us that it does the world or the individual that we choose. It is a direct reflection on who we are, both as individuals and as a collective.
Here, there was no truly good choice. But there was a choice that was objectively better, and we squandered that choice. From the third party outskirts we had a candidate that did not know basic geography or current events. From the left we had a candidate with a checkered record. From the right we had bigoted con man.
It’s like being asked which member of your family you’d rather watch die. It’s an impossible decision. At least, it should be. But something happened tonight. Something that scares me. We took an impossible decision, and chose what may prove to be the worst possible solution. Not only that, we did it with relative ease. With popular majority, even.
Don’t try to hide behind the “I didn’t vote for him” line. It does not matter that you as an individual did not vote for him. You are a part of this country, and after all that you’ve benefitted from it, you don’t get to simply wash your hands of it.Like it or not, the country that gave you everything you have - that you are an inseparable part of - made this decision.
The “other people” didn’t do this; WE did this.
Why did this happen? Some argue that it is because the white working class voters in rural America felt disenfranchised. Some assert that it’s because of the baby boomers that miss the good old days, or that it was the young millennials that split the vote by voting third party out of protest. Others argue that it is an extinction behavior; the last virulent gasp of the old ways. Still others argue that it is a result of a myriad of other causes, both small and large.
In truth, they are all right. It is about all of the above, and more. It is about all of these things coalescing at long last and synthesizing into perhaps our biggest existential crisis since the Civil War. There is a battle to define ourselves.
And so, the ultimate question: who are we, that we - as a nation - elected this man?
Let me tell you who we just announced ourselves to be: a bigoted, short-sighted, angry, irrational, racist, and misogynistic people. A people who feel threatened by evolution and change, and rather that strive to make that evolution and change work for us, blindly fight it out of fear for that which we are unwilling or unable to understand. Once the top of the world, we are now a frightened and insecure people that look to put others around is down out of desire to show dominance in a world where the very notion of dominance is antiquated and obsolete.
Some may pass of Trump’s virulent behavior as boisterousness, confidence, or locker room talk. Some will argue that it is a display of authenticity that seems to have been lacking. As for the latter, I would agree. It IS an authentic display of backwards and demented behavior. The man is genuine in that much.
For those of you that voted for Trump, you have my sympathy. It is a terrible life of fear that you lead, and when you are ready to face your fear and realize that there was nothing to fear in the first place, I will be here to help you take those steps.
In the meantime, those of us who see through that fear and inadequacy have a rough road ahead of us, as we struggle to clean up the mess that you make. It’s a pretty bleak outlook.
Be that as it may, I will do what I can.
You see, while many are calling this the figurative end of the world as we know it, and.not unjustifiably so, I think back to something that my parents taught me. They taught me, perhaps never directly or explicitly, that that which we think is the worst day we could ever imagine really isn’t. The day someone died, the day a bigoted candidate got elected - they are terrible.
But the worst day comes later - when it sinks in. When you not only realize and comprehend what just happened, but accept it as fact. The day you realize that despite the fact that it feels like your world is imploding in on you and coming to a figurative end, and you figuratively (or perhaps literally) cry yourself to sleep; only to wake up the next day and realize that still the wind blows, still the world turns, and still the stars shine. They continue as ever they have, as ever the will continue to do, without pause or concern about what just happened to you.
THAT is the worst day.
But in that darkness, if you are brave enough and strong enough, you will see something beautiful. You will see the wind blow, the world turn, and the stars shine - as ever they have in the past, and as ever they will continue to do - no matter what just happened. Take a moment, shift a little, a see the world in front of you a little differently, and you’ll realize there is nothing more beautiful than that. The fact that world continues the next day is its way of encouraging you; reminding you that no matter what yesterday brought, today is a new day, and tomorrow can be as promising (or as bleak) as we want it to be. It the world’s version of picking us up by the bootstraps, putting us in front of a mirror, and reminding ourselves of our own potential.
A terrible thing happened today by the standards of many, but it is not the end of the world. The world is still ours, and we can still make it a better, brighter place. The next four years will be unpleasant, but that is little more than motivation to make the best of what we have now while planning how to make the four years that come after better.
Hold tight - for better or for worse, the wind is still in our hair, the world is still turning, and the stars are still shining - constant, silent beacons to guide and inspire us.
Tomorrow will be another opportunity.
Good night, kids.