Well, it has been nice knowing everyone. I just got word that I’m going to be tossed over the wall for the things I’ve written about our next President ;)
In all seriousness, I am shattered. Last night, I lay in the arms of my dumbfounded husband (a supremely logical Republican) and sobbed. It’s not the politics. It’s that Mr. Trump decimates every notion I have of what it means to be a fundamentally decent human being. But stay with me; that’s not exactly where I’m going with this.
I’m not normally a political junkie, but this election was different. Over the last year, I’ve read a slew of books about Mr. Trump, including The Art of the Deal. (I also read an interview with the guy who actually wrote that book.) I’ve read hundreds—probably thousands— of in-depth articles on him. I watched entire tapes of his rallies and I listened to his words closely. I read his answers to a lengthy quiz on scientific principles as they relate to public policy, something I consider to be incredibly important. I listened to the people who’ve known in him in a professional or personal context. I could have written a zillion opinion pieces on his actions, but I chose two: Mr. Trump’s attitude regarding a dictator’s use of chemical weapons on innocent families, and his lifelong treatment of ‘the little guy’ in his business practices—and how that facet of his character intersects with my Christian faith. I stand by what I wrote. It’s safe to say I’m not a yuge Trump fan.
So, yeah, this is a brutal morning for me. I’ve been getting messages all night and all morning asking me to write about it. At this point, I’m tempted to let this article devolve into a very specific list of all the other reasons I believe Mr. Trump is catastrophically unqualified. That might comfort me, but I recognize it’s going to make everyone else want to stab themselves in the eye with a fork. I’m putting on mittens until the feeling passes.
So here comes my shift. You can probably tell from the way I write that I’m an over-educated, affluent nerd. So what gives me the right to judge people in very different circumstances for voting according to their conscience? Donald Trump won a non-rigged election, and he won for a lot of reasons. Those of us horrified by Mr. Trump have to get over it, and we have to be gracious in doing so. The people who love Donald Trump aren’t a uniform glob of of rural ignorance. I grew up in the rural South, and I promise you, we are every bit as smart as any wonky urban decadent you might pluck from the streets of Midtown Manhattan. Setting aside a small but loathsome contingent—the white supremacists, the misogynistic trolls, etc— Trump supporters are your friends and neighbors and co-workers. They are good people.
I have a mighty respect for the office of the President of the United States. And I respect and honor the voice of my fellow citizens. You voted for him, and we got him, and I hear you. Maybe I’ll never respect Mr. Trump’s character or his competence, but he’s going to be the leader of the country I love with every fiber of my being, and I accept this. Unless he goes totally off the rails between now and January 20th, he’s going to be my President too.
My prayer going forward: we all accord Mr. Trump a chance to govern the country wisely. Give him a chance, and give his office the respect it deserves. Don’t freak out and move to Canada. (I don’t even think you CAN move to Canada—apparently we crashed their immigration website last night.) America is the greatest nation on earth, not because of our similarities as a people, but because of our differences. This is a scientifically-proven thing, y’all: diversity in thought and in heritage leads to ingenuity. We’ve been unbelievably successful as a country because when we’re confronted with challenge, we combine and create new, better things. We shift our political leaders regularly**, and we always survive. Adversity challenges complacency, in fact. Maybe we’re all so stuck in our ways of thinking, so polarized, and so convinced the other side is El Diablo incarnate, that it takes the most tremendous political division ever to unite us again. We need every one of us, here, in the home of the brave and the land of the free.
If you voted against Donald Trump, use this defeat to temper and channel your motivation into listening to the people who didn’t, and affecting positive change for the beliefs you hold dear. If you have friends and relatives and co-workers who think differently than you, tell them you love them today. Smile at a stranger. Don’t be bitter. Accept there are many ways to get stuff done. Be proud you live in a place where everyone can vote.
If you voted for Donald Trump, don’t gloat. Be gracious in your victory and remember more than half the country feels differently. You have the chance to steer the country wherever you want now, and it’s an awesome responsibility. Take the high road. Reach out to someone who is terrified today, especially if they are African-American, or Latino, or Muslim, or—to pick a lovable person totally at random—a heartsick but hopeful white woman in Charlotte, North Carolina.
** except in Congress. Maybe our new political-outsider-in-chief can start a revolution for Congressional term limits? Just an idea!