There will be legions of posts, articles, thinkpieces, and essays this morning and throughout the day wondering how “we” could have gotten everything so wrong, how things came to this, how a majority of the United States electorate chose….that. There will be attempts at scholarly analysis, visceral personal reactions, laments, and entirely too many smug, see you pointy-headed types should have listened to real people screeds.
There will be confessions like this one: I wildly overestimated how much support the Clinton ticket possessed. I blithely assumed that at least most folks would do the right thing and reject such blatant appeals to anti-democratic values. I thought it would be an ass-kicking. I made smug predictions of of 350 blue electoral votes. As things slid off course, I still asserted that things would be fine, that it would be closer than we wanted but still OK.
I failed, out of a mixture of arrogance, ignorance, and denial, to comprehend just how vast the racialized, ethno-nationalist appeal of Trump resonated across this country. I’m not a professional pundit; hell, I struggle to be a decent History professor most days. But I like to at least think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to race and American politics. Clearly, I don’t know what I thought I did.
I saw Trumpism as the death struggles of the white supremacist coalition that had so decisively shaped American politics and culture. The Beast always struggles hardest before it dies, I repeatedly proclaimed. You can’t fight demographic change, it’s a fool’s errand.
I still stand by that assertion. But it’s clear the Beast is far from dying.
In retrospect, my pronouncements seem offensively naive. It’s not like I denied the presence of white supremacy and the structures it’s built in our society. I know those structures and ideals were and continue to be durable ones. But I assumed, wanting to believe in the best of our collective psyche, that those structures were going the way of Betamax tapes and wood-paneled station wagons–curious, inexplicable artifacts of a time where people made the dumbest things “cool” and mainstream.
(Also, now is not the time to hit me with the “not all Trump voters are racist” shit. Trump and his leading voices made it abundantly clear that they are racist, proto-fascist shitbags. It was happily proclaimed that His Orangeness would Make America Great Aga*n, a return to the halcyon days of authoritarian inequality. You vote for that, you voted for this:
So GTFO with the #NotAllTrumpists #EconomicAnxiety canard. I’m not here for that.)
It is an awful, miserable, bleak feeling to wake up on Day 1 of President-Elect Trump.
(I would like to say it’s not “Trump’s America,” but I’m not sure I can make that claim in light of the electoral deluge that is poised to undo decades of meaningful work and plunge us into a new Gilded Age complete with all the amenities of the original late-19th century version: virulent nativism, Jim Crow and racialized violence, unfettered capitalist aggression, and gleeful imperialism.)
I would like to end this series of somewhat disjointed thoughts on an optimistic note, an inspiring commitment to Get To Work. And I plan on getting to work, harder than before and with more love and compassion to make up for the shortages of these commodities that are sure to come.
But I can’t shake the crushing, near-existential misery of waking up in a country where a majority of the people have elected as their president someone whose very political existence is a literal fuck you to large swaths of this country’s population. Where faux-Christians have chosen Mammon over God, and wrapped themselves in Jesus and the Bible to march out and do violence to every tenet of the faith. Where someone who literally has no idea what he’s doing, who is profoundly uncurious and belligerently ignorant, and is likely unaware of the full scope of the fascist, racist, misogynist avalanche that he has triggered is now president.
All morning, I’ve been asking how it is that I live in a country that has chosen this…thing, this absurdly unqualified charlatan wanna-be dictator, who is a living, breathing denial of the humanity and dignity of so many people. And how this happened despite the miles-long list of traits that would be disqualifying (and in some cases, criminal) for anyone who wasn’t a rich white conservative male.
And then I realized that this is how people of color, women, and LGBTQ folks have felt in the aftermath of nearly every election–from local to national–since we started holding them in this country.
The Beast lives.
Soundtrack for this post: