This is my country.
I am dismayed by the results of yesterday’s election. The US Senate and House will remain under the control of a party that has earned mistrust, and the Presidency will go to a person whom I neither trust nor respect, one who appears grossly unqualified and who will test my resolve to respect the office even when I disapprove of the person in it. United conservative rule in Washington will deliver a blow to what I had believed (and still believe) to be a rising tide of progressive feeling in our country. I had hoped that we as a nation were moving toward a new consensus on key social issues: not easily, of course, and not automatically, but decisively. I had, and have, real hopes, fueled by the young people whom I see almost daily in my work. Now my hopes are a bit muted, my fears are louder, and my particular American dream has been bruised.
Also, it appears that a majority of voters in my state have chosen to execute people faster rather than repeal the death penalty. This should be a source of shame for California, despite the many progressive measures that CA voters did pass yesterday. I don’t feel as happy about living here as I did yesterday morning.
But this is my country.
This election has hurt the way no other election I’ve voted in has hurt, because I’ve allowed myself, or learned, to care more than I ever have before. It felt personal, in a draining, nerve-rattling way. It divided my family and tore at my heart. I’ve been voting for 32 years, and no Presidential race, certainly no Presidential outcome, has affected me this way, not even the suspect Bush v. Gore election of 2000.
When I came out of class last night and began following election results online, I was shocked and shaken. I’m still shaking. Our whole household was in arms, and frankly afraid, last night: we yelled; we cursed; we hugged each other. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.
I had had at least three different Presidential campaigns running in my head: one for Hillary Clinton, one for the prospect of electing the first woman President in our history, and one emphatically against Trump and the GOP. These didn’t turn out as hoped. And my Facebook feed last night was a downed power line of sparking anger, disgust, and terror: a sign that many of my friends and colleagues have also been hurt and have also had their nerves rattled.
But this is my country.
I had assumed (with more hope than realism, I now see) that a clear majority of voters would prefer expertise over bluster and would realize the danger of empowering a party dominated by unrelenting partisans who want government to fail, not to work. I had assumed that progressive candidates and issues would have not just a fighting chance but a fair one, going forward. I had hoped that a Clinton presidency would help consolidate the gains of the Obama years and restore balance and sanity to a political process now marked by vicious Othering and hate-mongering. I had hoped for all these things. I was caught by surprise.
But this is my country.
We now live in a country that to me feels less like home, and more dangerous. We are now getting ready to usher into the most powerful office in the land someone without the experience or comportment to do the job well. We are now set to transition from a gifted President with a deep understanding of constitutional law to one who appears to understand the office hardly at all: and he will come into office under full sail, with gusting Congressional Republicans behind him. I hate to be a prophet of doom, but I believe we are in for the whirlwind.
But…this is my country. It is my country, and ours, and I am not “moving” anywhere. I am not going to any other place. Nor am I surrendering my voice. I am not acquiescing to the ugly isms that gave the Trump campaign its fateful margin: nativism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, unchecked rapacity, contempt for government, contempt for learning and for education, contempt for science and for environmentalism, gun mania, jingoism, saber-rattling, parochialism, willed ignorance, hate: the whole toxic blend of so-called values that gave Trump and Pence their edge. I am not surrendering my country to that brutal vision.
If this election felt more personal, and hurt more, that’s partly because I’ve been learning: taking on new ideas, getting to know new communities and positions, and enlarging the compass of what I care about. Over these past few years, I’ve been learning more and more about what it will take to achieve justice and inclusiveness in our society, what it will take to live out the potential of the American idea, what it would really mean to have an America worthy of the name. I’ve learned to question my privileges; I’ve learned about and struggled with the limitations of my own philosophy of classical liberalism and individualism. I’ve changed. I’ve learned some new things, and I’m going to keep on doing that.
This is my country, and I’m going to act like it is. I’m going to engage, lend support, and fight. I’m not going to give in to incipient fascism and cultural degradation. Nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel, people — because this is our country, land of dreams, of radical promise for tomorrow. I aim to see this country thrive, and live out its promise.
#ProgressiveFuture #AmericaForAll #KeepPushing