This isn’t how it was supposed to be. A week after the election, we were supposed to be celebrating in the streets, a jubilant, enlightened populace congratulating ourselves on having elected the most sensible, knowledgeable, and experienced candidate. Having spoken out for respect. And inclusiveness. One nation under Her, indivisible, with taco trucks and pantsuits for all.
Analysts will spend years unknotting how we got this so wrong; it may wind up in history books. What’s clear is we underestimated Americans’ dissatisfaction with the status quo — and overestimated their concern for anyone besides themselves.
So now we sit, slumped, humiliated as the rest of the world stares slack-jawed at our crude windbag of a choice. Our swaggering snake-oil salesman. Our callow narcissist. (Hi, Trump’s NSA. Are we doing this yet?)
We try to tamp down the rising panic as the Tweeter of “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese” appoints the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. As the man who said women should be punished for having abortions prepares to appoint Supreme Court justices. As he ditches reporters and snatches at the keys to the Situation Room after even staunchly conservative newspapers warned us, “Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse-control problem?”
But just when I think I’m despondent, I picture Hillary Clinton curled up in a blankie with an oversized cocoa mug full of expensive wine, binge-watching Orange Is the New Black, and I think: Oh. No. That’s despondent.
And I realize that what I am is offended. And indignant. And itching for a fight.
I’m angry at the voters who not only dismissed Trump’s bigotry, sexism, and blatant disrespect for Muslims, veterans, and people with disabilities — but also elevated those qualities to the highest office in the land. I’m furious at white women, at nonvoters (since we’re deporting people, can we start with these 100 million slackers?), and at evangelicals who sold their souls to the least Jesus-y human ever to loom over a ballot.
What enrages me most are those who believe Trump’s bullying ideologies have been nailed to the public square as national doctrine and now feel fully free to harass Muslim, black, gay, and Mexican residents of this country for fun. Hate crimes that echo Trump’s campaign rhetoric have surged since the election, from threats and intimidation to racial slurs and physical attacks. It’s happening even in the progressive bubble of California; it’s happened to people I know. It’s as if cockroaches were living just under the surface, and Trump punctured a giant orange hole for them to crawl up out of.
Of course, most of Trump’s voters aren’t sexist bigots. Some simply hoped he’d throw a let’s-see-what-happens wrench into a political and economic system that doesn’t work for them. But Trump incited this hateful behavior, and if you did anything to put him in the home that Lincoln once occupied, then I hope you’ll join me in pledging that no one will be mocked, baited, or demeaned on our watch. Stand beside them. Speak up for them. If it was shame that kept these bullies in the shadows until now, let’s shame them right back there again. Because we will not go backward. If we can’t be decent to one another — if every one of us can’t expect to move through our communities in safety and peace — then what’s the point of everything else you voted for?
Some people are wearing safety pins on their shirts to show marginalized groups that they’re a “safe” ally. It’s a sweet gesture, but to be honest, I’m not feeling sweet. My outrage is dialed up to “seethe,” and it feels just right for the moment. It’s a setting I hope will keep me alert and energized for the four years ahead of us — because although Hillary’s fight is finally over, ours is just beginning.
So pardon me for not wearing a small, subtle silver symbol of my stance. You’re more likely to see me driving a rainbow-striped, vagina-shaped monster truck that says “RUN, RACISTS.”