November 8th, 2016— a day that will live in infamy— when a dark campaign of xenophobia, racism and sexism lead to the election of Donald Trump: an unqualified con-artist demagogue, as the next President of the United States.
I fixated on this election for a great deal of time. When thoughtful people I relied on for insight were proven wrong one after another, my amusement gave way to concern. Satire stopped being funny. When the outcome became clear, my first reaction was to curl into the fetal position and weep at the thought of the damage this choice could lead to. Then came the rapid cycling through the phases of grief, with the only solace being that I’m not part of one of the unprivileged groups that our next president so viciously attacked during his campaign.
Trump’s message of change built a coalition of voters dissatisfied with the status quo: the economically insecure, the party loyalists, the evangelicals, the white nationalists. Some facet of his message was enthralling enough that Trump’s voters were willing to overlook or tolerate what so many of us perceived as disqualifying.
Like the victims of Trump University, these desperate Americans made a poor choice about who might lead them to a better future. Obama couldn’t help them flourish, why would they choose more of the same? Their plight was difficult for me to comprehend from inside my liberal elite bubble where I’ve been blinded by good fortune.
Democrats like me could have made a wiser strategic choice. I chose Hillary because I thought she would be a considerate leader who could moderate the partisan divide. I also thought she could beat Trump. But the people who determined this election were in no mood for levelheaded continuity.
I didn’t understand the resentment and animosity that people had towards Hillary and the establishment she represented. I didn’t understand the apathy and disaffection that so many have with the system. I didn’t foresee the confluence of ignorance, gullibility, hyper-partisanism, bad information security and nefarious foreign interloping.
This is the first of a four-part series of blogs. Next, I’ll write about what Trump could do, who let Trump happen, and how Trump can be resisted. These are difficult to write, I won’t have all the answers, but I hope that these words achieve more than my own personal catharsis.
[featured photo by Gage Skidmore]