Post election: a week of reflection

The last few days on Facebook have been trying ones. I’m pretty sure I was unfriended and blocked by at least one person. The posts and memes that have flooded the site by my friends have largely been anti-Trump, or otherwise in solidarity with those who are protesting his ascendancy to the presidency, but even that much is exhausting to absorb. I know a few people who decided to take a couple-day break from Facebook so as to just get away from it all, if only for a short while, and they were glad to have done so. Perhaps I should take a cue from them.

In my previous post, I remarked how there will need to be some thought and reflection on what has happened this past week. So in comparison to how much I was following the election up to last Tuesday, I have actually stepped back a bit. But it hasn’t been enough. The scope of the surprise of this election requires quite a bit of quiet reflection, not because “my candidate” didn’t win, but because of the unique threat that a wildcard like Donald Trump presents to us, and what it means that there is roughly half of the active voting public who wanted to give him the most powerful job in the world.

Campaign 2016 Debate
President-elect Donald Trump (still hard to say that out loud)

One of the first things that stands out on what has been said about his victory has been finger-pointing. It’s Clinton’s fault for not doing a good enough job. It’s the DNC’s fault for not supporting Sanders enough. It’s the media’s fault. It’s the FBI’s fault. It’s the racists’ fault. And one of the least interesting part of all the finger pointing is the bottom line by the pointers that they figured out the mystery. They figured it out! Yeah, the DNC screwed us over… ta-da!

I’m just going to state outright that this is all horseshit. Yeah, the FBI director’s public announcement about what ended up being a bogus email scandal didn’t help Clinton. Perhaps Bernie Sanders would’ve fared better against Donald Trump. But we do ourselves a disservice by being so lazy in our quest to learn how a narcissistic con-man with a penchant for late-night Twitter tantrums has become president.

Personally, I blame myself. Not entirely, of course. But out of a false sense of security that Clinton was going to win, coupled with a little bit of cowardice, I spoke out very little about the existential crisis a President Trump presented. I simply didn’t want to make any more enemies than I had to in the midst of a volatile election season. But given how dire a world I envisioned if he were to win, between his wish to open up libel laws in order to sue news organizations that said bad things about him, his suggestion that we default on our federal debt in order to negotiate a better deal, his idea to kill the families of suspected terrorists and to resume and even escalate our use of torture on prisoners of war, and his easily-baited temperament that causes him to attack former beauty queens with late-night Tweets and double down on insults of Rosie O’Donnell during presidential debates, it was irresponsible of me and others like me to not voice fully the nature of the threat. It’s entirely possible that this wouldn’t have changed the election, and maybe there was a cultural saturation of such cries, but regardless, I dropped the ball. And, on top of everything else, I also underestimated both him and his supporters. Especially with that last point, our greater nature as a nation failed to bring its best effort forward in the face of an enormous threat. We all need to accept our portion of responsibility, both individually and institutionally.

But more than anyone, I also blame the people who voted for Trump. That really should go without saying. The people who looked at their two choices and thought the person with the seemingly never ending list of scandals and character flaws and no experience was suitable for the job over a comparatively-moderately flawed yet highly qualified candidate, the people who wanted an outsider who would shake stuff up, and the people who are just plain sexist and racist, they were all the people who actually voted for this man. Anything awful that happens during the next administration will be in a large part on their heads, and they will not be held guiltless. Casting an ignorant vote is a crime that can be forgiven, but they are going to have to repent first.

With luck, they won’t have to due to my worst fears of a Trump presidency not being actualized. Since we know basically nothing about how he will actually govern because he has no experience and he instinctually lies about any topic, who knows what he’ll actually do. But given the platform that he was elected on, you can safely bet that we’re staring down four years of domestic hardships and international humiliation at best.

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