"Are we going to be okay? Please say yes. Make a case for how we can overcome what he's doing to destroy decency, civilization and the fabric of our democracy." - posted on Facebook
I get it. I get the question. Spoken from a place of real fear and anxiety, it echoes what many Americans feel as we near the end of this interminable campaign and face the (hopeful) reality of a Trump-free world. A world in which every headline isn't about his latest scandal or verbal gaffe. A world in which we can turn on the news and not be regaled with his mangling of topics beyond his grasp. A world in which a day can go by without Trump.
Well, at least the Trump screeching hate, lies, and disrespect from red-white-and-blue election podiums, the Trump sputtering incomprehensible word salad at every campaign question; the Trump pretending to have a clue how to run the county, and certainly the Trump who's given voice to the grizzled, low-information, tunnel-visioned, privileged white voters who want America to go back to a time when unprivileged people of color just worked for them.
But like mosquitoes and taxes, we'll likely never rid ourselves of him completely. He's yet to face his day in court on rape charges and fraudulent universities; it's hinted he may launch a media endeavor to keep his name in glowing orange lights, and certainly he, his lockstep children, and other surrogates will be out hawking his now-"Scion" products and properties (he's giving up the Trump name, having discovered the brand tanked along with his presidential aspirations!). But at least he'll be off the mainstage of American politics, hopefully forever.
But what happens November 9th with his teeming, seething supporters, the cultists he's whipped into a frenzy of hate and fear? Are they takin' it to the streets, as some have threatened? Will democracy be put on hold while a petulant Trump suspends concession like a recalcitrant child? Will red-hatted minions launch a violent revolution of Trumpian proportions?
I love the media; I'm tangentially part of the media, but I have to say: the media has done their clickbaiting, ember-stoking, fear-mongering best to whip up panic on those very questions. Every day I see more and more articles warning that white supremacists are threatening war, gun-toting "make America great again" devotees are planning coups, along with more generalized rumblings of violence and "revolution" if the sputtering man in orange does not pull out the win. To which I say:
Are the wizened old red-staters going to get out there with their hunting rifles to set the night on fire? Will ornery millennials who think it's cooly subversive to "blow up America" with a Trump vote going to march to the White House with raised fists? Can we expect the seemingly normal folks positioned behind Trump at rallies to leave their jobs and families to go to the mattresses in widespread revolt?
I don't know... I don't think so.
But, some cry, what about the KKK, the Aryan Nation; the more generalized bigots and xenophobes; the gun-thumpers, religious fundamentalists, government haters and nationalistic white folks who see Trump as their last chance to roll America back to pre-evolutionary days when gays, women, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims; anyone who is not them had zero rights and zero power? What about them? Will they riot in the streets on November 9th? Will they build coalitions of like-minded egoists to turn back time, rescind progress, and promote a caustic agenda of regression, fear, and disrespect all wrapped in a chewy layer of hate?
Again, I don't know. Maybe? But if so, we millions of contributing taxpayers have funded countless police departments, a National Guard, and a powerful military force with our taxes; I trust they'd step in if need be. We live in cities and towns that have strong street-watch programs and caring, compassionate neighbors who look out for each other; they'll set off alarms if marauding Trumpians start marching down their streets. As members of a society that promotes civility and consideration, we retain confidence in the innate human impulse to stand up against bullies, bigots, and agitators.
If, on November 9th, the disappointed red-hatters do take to the streets, I have faith that those looking for peace, harmony, and the opportunity to coalesce around progress will far outnumber the pitchfork crowd. Good people have stood up to the Westboro Baptists, the KKK, and various throngs of frenzied haters who've attempted to hijack American civil liberties throughout time. If the harangue of "there's gonna be trouble" does prove to be portentous, we will simply have to stand up to it... and peace will prevail. There's more of us than them, and we are not shy.
However else Election 2016 will be remembered, it has been a litmus test of where our fellow Americans stand on some of the most important issues of the day. The stakes have been high and the contrast never more black and white. We've learned who aligns with our worldview and who shatters it. Many have lost friends; families have been impacted, people have unfollowed, blocked, and unfriended in their fervor to stand firm beside what they believe important. It's been a bloodbath in some ways. But despite our throbbing heads, the ache of battered psyches; mouths dried from months of articulating rational thought, fact vs. fiction, compassionate dialogue, and the hope of a better future, we will survive, however this election lands.
Whatever the morning after brings -- and, dear God, I hope it brings shattered ceilings and the advancement of compassionate America! -- we will survive. Even if Trump unfathomably pulls it out, we will survive. We on the side of progress will simply work all the harder to activate our government system of checks and balances; continue to educate and promote higher ideals, hold our elected officials to their stated missions, be vigilant to where our society trends, and do everything in our power to make his a four-year endeavor.
But if Trump, as expected, does not win, we will celebrate madly, then get on with the task of holding our leaders to their promises, to their programs, to the progress they spoke to and we voted for, while engaging families, friends, communities, towns, and states to continue to work for positive outcomes on all the issues we've deemed essential. We will even reach out to the less rigid of Trump supporters to attempt to bring them into the fold... we're all Americans, after all, and one can hope! But it doesn't stop on November 9th; it's just the morning after and the first day of what's next. Let's be ready, enthused, and active.
And remember: we have endured many horrific events throughout our history; revolution, native genocide, slavery, civil war, world wars, poverty, depression, crime; terrorism, and we have always endured. We've survived. We've rebuilt. We will survive Election 2016. And we will transcend Trump. We are nothing if not a hearty people!
Photo by Max Ostrozhinskly @ Unsplash