For many of us, Election Night was going to be a celebration. I had my camera ready, a nice bottle of red to open later, and the kids ready to watch the inevitable making of history of the first female President. And the end of this insanely disheartening campaign, on all sides, so we could all get on with the holidays.
Instead it morphed into a waking nightmare, unfolding in real time on our screens, as a pit grew in our guts.
I watched as the news unspooled, and things suddenly felt off-kilter. I texted with my wife, who was trapped on a coast-to-coast flight, watching the news on her seat back. We cheered and moaned as Florida seesawed back and forth.
Friends started texting too – “what’s happening? Tell me there’s a way out.”
I had no answers. None of us did.
The last time I felt this sense of surreal dread, of watching something so sad and so immediate and yet so far away, happen in real time on TV, was watching the 2nd tower fall on 9/11.
I had a similar feeling watching “Shock and Awe” the night we began to strike Baghdad.
Moments that you know, as you watch them: things will never be the same.
The kids could sense my apprehension. I couldn’t sit still. I was pacing the house; I opened too many beers, and drank them. It didn’t help.
We had reassuring conversations and long hugs about “no matter what happens, we will be fine…. this is how America works…don’t worry, it will all work out.”
But inside I wasn’t so sure.
We laughed nervously to distract ourselves, asking “how far is Gary Johnson behind?”
Thanks for the comic relief, Gary.
Seeing it was going to be a long night, I put the kids to bed as things got really dark, both outside and on television. I promised I would let them know what happened.
But as they slept, and the worst came true, all the potential problems he could cause faded for the moment and crystallized into a single question: how to explain to the kids what has happened in our country?
How to explain to my innocent, loving, caring-for-all-living things, and empathetic daughter, that no, the first woman President will not happen tonight. Instead a very bad man is going to be in charge.
Their entire memory, President Obama has been in office. Whatever you think about his policies, he has held the office with dignity and grace. He has tried to help people, despite fierce, racist opposition determined to see him fail. He helped turn around the economy, started no new wars, and tried to wind down the ones we had.
And now? We choose this:
A man born with a silver spoon in his mouth, the troubled son of a KKK member, who has based his entire life on avarice and greed and materialism.
Raised in a family that subscribes to the “race-horse theory” of evolution: you take a superior man and a superior woman, and breed superior offspring. Meaning, some people are genetically superior to others, before they have ever proven what they are made of.
Eugenics. Bunk science. False data that supports prejudice and hate. A favorite “science” of the Third Reich.
A bigot who spent his own money to try and get black teenagers executed, and wouldn’t relent or apologize even after they were exonerated — proven innocent by the overdue confession of a serial rapist, and DNA proof that was undeniable.
A man who accused an entire class of people of being “rapists and criminals” – and yet was personally accused of rape by his first wife.
A man publicly accused of sexual assault by no less than 13 other women, who only had the nerve to come forward after hearing the tape we all heard of him bragging about sexually assaulting women, and getting away with it because of who he is.
A man who publicly encouraged supporters to beat up protestors, and he would pay for their legal bills.
A man who said “you have to treat women like sh*t.”
A man who wants to kill innocent women and children because they may be related to a real or designated terrorists. “You have to go after the families” he said.
A man who mocks and denigrates women, Muslims, African-Americans, Jews, the handicapped, and any other target he can bully on the playground.
A man who just days ago screamed “get him out of here” to a young boy with cerebral palsy in a wheel chair, peacefully protesting on behalf of the disabled, only to watch him be pushed out by supporters, kicking his wheel chair on the way out.
A man who publicly states he wants to torture people, and even if it’s not effective, “they deserve it.”
A man who thinks that the solution to gun violence is to have everyone packing more guns everywhere, including guns in every classroom in America, colleges, high schools, elementary schools, kindergartens, pre-schools.
A man who re-tweets garbage from neo-Nazi and White Supremacist twitter accounts.
A man whose sons proudly kill endangered animals for “sport” and is about to undue every environmental achievement he can get his hands on.
Soon to be the only leader in the world who denies climate change is a scientifically proven threat to humanity.
A man who praises dictators who imprison and murder journalists and political opponents.
Likely has financial dependence on banks controlled by the same dictators, and my be directly controlled by them.
Openly commits treason by inviting the same foreign powers to hack his American political enemies in middle of an election.
Keeps the free American press in a physical pen.
Lies constantly and gets away with it, even when the tape shows he’s lying.
Promotes conspiracy theories.
Is possibly on drugs.
Keeps lists of his enemies.
And a kept a book of Hitler’s speeches as bedside reading.
Not Lincoln, not Churchill.
Does my daughter know all this? Of course not. But she can tell that I do. Every parent knows kids have serious intuition. And every kid in America knows what a bully and a racist is.
And now some look at the news, and see their worst instincts glorified and validated. All over the country teachers are speaking of the “Trump effect.” High school basketball teams yelling “Build That Wall” to opposing local teams with Latino kids, that all used to get along.
White kids who told an African American girl just yesterday on a school bus “shouldn’t you sit in the back of the bus today?”
Multiple instances of women in hijabs being attacked, including by men in red hats.
Swastikas on buildings and black churches.
Sure, some people are idiots. There will always be bad apples. But never have we had a potential President who inspires and encourages it like this. Feeds off it. Revels in it.
Our kids can feel what’s happening, even if we, and they, can’t explain it yet.
So what do I say?
“Maybe he doesn’t really mean it. He just said that to get elected. Don’t worry, it will be okay. Most people didn’t vote for him, this is how America works” etc. etc.
But I am scared, less for us personally, than for what we could all become, and for all the vulnerable in this country.
Why should we believe that Republicans who opposed him will contain him, when all they care about is winning too, and they know anyone who opposes him will now be subjected to the wrath of hordes, the Bikers for Trump, and the trolls of the internet.
They will cower. He will have a nearly free run of it.
This is not about politics. This is about basic common American decency. About the values we teach our children. Treating others with respect and tolerance. Telling the truth. The value of intellectual debate. Freedom of speech. Principles a President is supposed to defend at all costs.
Had McCain or Romney defeated Obama, I would have been disappointed, and we could argue about their policies, but I would never question their belief in the Constitution.
Donal Trump doesn’t give a damn about the U.S. Constitution, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, or any of the other ideals we cherish and that make us exceptional in the world.
All he cares about is winning. At all costs. Despite any and all damage.
Of course lots of people who are fed up and tired and feel they are losing in life see that as a good thing – hey maybe they can start winning again. That pain is real.
But they are trading away all our hard fought principles in exchange for their self-interest in the bargain.
This is why so many are sad for America. Not because the red team won and the blue team lost this time around. It’s because we know sense that we just lost something fundamental to who we thought we were in the process.
And sorry, but I am already sick of the calls, including from liberals, to “chill out.” There will be no chilling out.
I am not going to walk thru Target and be relaxed about seeing a demagogue smiling at me from the cover of People magazine, and all the coming “27 pics of his cute kids.”
Not until he recants everything he has said to hurt people, admits his guilt, pledges to do better, and then proves it.
Not gonna happen folks. We had 18 mos. to see into his heart, and we know what we saw.
He has won and now he is going to seek revenge on every person who slighted him.
This is a national tragedy, and we need to bear witness to it.
The media failed us, we all know it. They normalized hate by trying to pretend to be balanced, giving it equal time and support with their paid panels of left and right talking heads each spewing their candidates propaganda, instead of calling out truth and lies and doing serious journalism, until it was far too late.
I love this country, and I respect free and fair elections, but I can’t bring myself to say the words “President Trump.” It makes me sick. I won’t be doing that for the next 4 years.
I know Obama and Clinton have an obligation for the sake of the Republic, to hide what they think and say “give him a chance” – do the concession speech, the photo op, the “smooth the transfer of power” we and the markets require.
They have no choice and would only betray all they stand for and become like him if they said or did otherwise.
But we, the People, do not have to “chill out.” It is our obligation to fight tyranny and protect the country and freedoms we cherish for future generations.
We do not have to remain silent. Not now. Not after this racist, lying sexual predator con-man has ascended to the highest office in the world.
To all those who voted for him: you’ve been conned by a master of the game.
If your answer is that “he doesn’t really mean all that, he just said it to get elected” – first I pray you are right, and it’s all a game show to him, and that he actually has no plans or moral compass, and will be impeached or fade away after 4 years.
I hope that is true and I am wrong. But if so, it only proves my point, you were conned. He isn’t going to do any of the things you voted him in for either. He just wanted to win to spite America’s first black President and be the big boss.
Your very real anger and legitimate resentment at the state of the world has been used against you. He doesn’t care about you, and you will know that soon.
And if you are wrong, and he did mean what he said, then we are in for even darker days ahead then we may imagine.
We owe it to ourselves, and our children, to bear witness, so that the worst of history may not be repeated.
I, for one, will not remain silent as this unfolds.
Happy Veteran’s Day, America.
Your soon-to-be Commander In Chief thinks POWs are losers.