Processing the 2016 presidential election results

Trump

Image: Joe Raedle/Getty

On Wednesday, I gathered with a large group of American Democrats, their families, and friends at a Richmond pub to watch the 2016 presidential election results live with America. There were about 100 people there and it was jovial at first, but it turned sour quickly.

I thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. Surely the most experienced candidate would beat the least experienced one who also happens to be a vulgar, tax-evading, exploitative racist and misogynist. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump carried the electoral votes and won the election. I was extremely disappointed, sad, and angry.

I checked in with my friends and they checked in with me. The next day, I went to work and coworkers hugged me and asked me how I was. Everyone was in disbelief. Meanwhile, members of my family gloated on Facebook, posting memes about how much they enjoy the sound of liberals crying and asking if they could help any of the anti-Trump celebrities pack their bags. None of them contacted me to see how I was. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by that, but I was.

My American and Australian friends are surprised when I tell them that my family are GOP supporters. Most Hispanics and Latinx vote Democrat, but Cubans have a history of voting Republican. The reasons for this are historical and complex, but the tide is changing with younger generations and new waves of Cuban immigrants.

Miami Cubans that support Trump think they are not included in Trump’s racism. They have privilege – light skin, education, some wealth, and they live in a little blue bubble within a red zone, nice and safe. Even though they have created their own communities, may not speak English after decades of living in the US, and may not be citizens, they think they have assimilated. They identify with the white American middle class more than with other Hispanics and Latinx. They think they are better than those “indios” from Central and South America and those “monkeys” from Overtown. They don’t think that when white supremacists yell, “Go back to where you came from,” that it means them too.

Clinton delivered a gracious concession speech. In his victory speech, Trump said:

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”

Let’s rewind to 2009 when Obama became President. Republicans didn’t unite behind him. Rush Limbaugh said, “I hope he fails”. Republicans challenged Obama’s citizenship and right to the presidency, claimed (and still claim) that he is a Muslim, a communist, and they called him and Michelle monkeys. They engaged in unprecedented obstruction. Why isn’t it completely appropriate now for Democrats to obstruct Trump?

Quote: When they go low, we go high. -Michelle Obama

The burden is not on me to make amends with Trump and his supporters. I am not the one vandalising with images of swastikas and “Sieg Heil 2016” and “Make America White Again” graffiti. I am not the one telling little brown children they are going to be deported, ripping hijabs off Muslim women, burning rainbow flags, attending KKK parades, or calling Black people foul names. (You can read more about all that here.) I have no intention of uniting with people who hate me and want to hurt me and people like me. I will unite with my tribe. And here’s what else I’m going to do.

1. I am going to take the time I need.

This is a lot to take in. I have been traveling along a tight and narrow spectrum of emotions that contains only variations of sadness, confusion, and rage. I need to sit with that. I need to process that. I need to grieve and heal. And I need to be there for my tribe. Here are some articles that you might find useful:

2. I’m going to stay active.

I will continue to support Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and other organisations that fight for the freedoms of all people. I will continue to speak out, demonstrate, put my money where my mouth is, and walk the talk. I will continue trying to be a good ally for LGBTIQ people, people of colour, and other marginalised people.

Martin Luther King, Jr. quote

3. I am going to keep educating myself.

I don’t know what kind of president Donald Trump will be. With no political or military experience and no real policies outlined, I doubt anyone knows. We just have to wait and see and stay on top of it all as it develops.

4. I am going to hold Trump accountable.

Among the many awful things that Trump has said he is going to do, are the following:

  • get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something “terrific” that is “so much better, so much better, so much better.”
  • rebuild the country’s aging infrastructure for one-third of what the US is currently paying
  • save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cutting benefits
  • invest in programs that help military veterans transition back to civilian life
  • be the greatest jobs president
  • grow the nation’s economy by at least 6%
  • reduce the $18 trillion national debt
  • cut the budget by 20% by renegotiating
  • fix the mental health system
  • prevent mass shootings
  • clean up the ghettos (his words)

I’m going to hold him to those promises.

I’ve heard that there are “nice” people who voted for Trump, people who don’t like his vulgarity, his racist or sexist comments, and voted for him for other reasons such as the economy and a desire for change. I haven’t met anybody like this, but let’s assume this is true (and despite the fact that the economy has been steadily improving since Obama got into office). If you are one of those people, well-meaning and loving, and you resent being lumped together with Trump’s more hateful supporters, then you have work to do.

Quote: You have to stand up for some things in this world.

You can start by publicly denouncing the xenophobic, racist, misogynist rhetoric and hate groups. You can demand that Trump publicly disavow and condemn the violence, intimidation, bigotry, and misogyny that is being done in his name. You should think long and hard about how great it is for you, how privileged you are, that you can overlook Trump’s dangerous and hateful speech, that it does not affect you, and maybe you should talk to some people who are less privileged than you.

When you are ready, here are three articles full of ideas and resources to help you get active:

Take care of yourself and each other.

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