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The bathwater or the baby?

Shock. Fear. Anger. Betrayal. Now that we've had some time to sleep on the news that Donald Trump has near-miraculously been elected to the White House, we've all begun to digest the meaning. And I think I speak for most Americans (Hillary is winning the popular vote, cold comfort) that we're less sad about losing the election, per se. We're not claiming an unfair fight though we certainly could with Russian interference and the lot. The overwhelming emotions you're seeing from Americans right now are grief that the America we loved, believed in...in some cases our ancestors fought and died for...is no longer. Perhaps a better characterization would be "life support." The world changed with the election of Donald Trump. Rather than the hand of steady leadership and history we thought we were making, we're entering a period of uncertainty and doubt about whether our institutions are up to the task of handling all this. Trump is Trump. Our sadness is that America has been taken over by an army of ignorance and hate that threatens to throw us into economic, social, maybe even military chaos. 

I'm not one who is prone to dark cynicism, but the hopeful cries of "we'll get through this" are perhaps missing the larger point that Trump is but one cog in a larger global wheel that we have no control over. This may not be the end of days upon us...but it also could be. With Hillary Clinton, we were at least confident that we were doing our best, domestically, to beat back the darkness lurking beyond our borders. Trump seems to invite that in and give it a seat at the table. Voters have thrown the American baby out with the bathwater.

White Americans from rural areas turned out in key states to shift the usual balance of power. And not every Trump voter is a raging white supremacist. But let's be clear that this is what you voted for, fellow citizens. You enabled it. The pussy grabbing. The immigrant-bashing. The very real possibility that someone you know is no longer safe in our culture. The millions of LGBT and Muslim Americans. The women in our lives. Generations of legal protections are at risk as President Trump nominates Supreme Court justices that will do the bidding of radical pro-lifers, the gun lobby, big business, and fundamentalist religious types. Millions of people are waking up this morning wondering if they will continue to be free or for how much longer.

If the American project was not lost in the bloodiest days of the Civil War, it's hard to say this challenge is insurmountable. But it sure is an ugly day. Not just for America but for the world. Where are you going to move, my fellow Americans? What other nation comes close to affording you what America has to offer? When you take away the foundation of American values as President-elect Trump has, it's less about making America great again and more about trying to keep her from sliding into irrelevancy. The fact that our democracy is so easily hijacked by a racist quasi-fascist with no experience is frightening. He now gets the world's largest economy and an arsenal of ballistic missiles plus the backing of a fully Republican Congress. 

Healthcare will be taken. Freedoms are probably next. Maybe not yours if you're a white male. But someone's. In reality, it's already been happening on our streets as black men are murdered by our police. The real shock is that last night lends it all the air of legitimacy. Trump explicitly condones his rise to power as an endorsement of brutality towards his enemies. He threatened to have his political rival jailed. 

Trump's victory speech was a small crack of light. Maybe a hint that he could govern humbly? It didn't erase the fear that sent markets crashing, but this is one time I'd like to be very wrong. Nothing in me says this points to a good ending though. Those of you who are beginning to point fingers let me stop to remind you that the rise of authoritarianism in Europe prior to WWII was because of a weak and fractured liberalism that made room for strongman dictators to fill the void. There is blame everywhere, but our only focus now should be protecting ourselves and the defenseless that our nation has historically risen to protect. 

Let us not be afraid to help each other—let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and Senators and Congressmen and Government officials but the voters of this country. -Franklin D. Roosevelt

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