An American Tragedy: The 2016 Election

Vladimir Putin and American racists

The 2016 presidential election is over and the unthinkable has happened. Just hours before, it seemed like we would be celebrating the first woman president. Instead, a womanizer is the president-elect.

I am heartbroken. I am distraught. And I am angry. But I will learn to accept it because, above all else, I am an American.

It’s been a tough contest, incredibly divisive. I can learn to accept Mr Trump as my president, but what really hurts is the way he won it — dividing people along racial and gender lines, playing on populist resentments and insulting virtually everyone along the way. In the end, people hated Hillary Clinton way more than they feared Trump having his finger on the nuclear trigger.

I view it as a tragedy for the GOP to win the presidency and Congress because they’ve acted with cynical purpose since Barack Obama was elected in 2008, determined to obstruct him at every turn, shut down the government repeatedly if they don’t get what they want and essentially holding up progress in this country in hopes that the American people will be too clueless to understand that the president alone does not control the system. If you are frustrated with gridlock in Washington, your Congressman is probably partially to blame. The voters rewarded the Republicans for holding up jobs bills during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. They’ve rooted for America to fail in order for them to succeed. The GOP has hit pay dirt on a generation of exploiting people of faith for political consensus building and disguising a television propaganda outlet as a “fair and balanced” news channel.

With the election of Trump, the American people have endorsed misogyny, sexism, racism, torture, and more. How am I supposed to explain this to my daughter?

Closer to home, on my Facebook wall, the very conservatives who have spent eight years relentlessly trying to delegitimize Obama’s presidency were vocal today in criticizing those of us who had the audacity to express our shock and dismay over the election results. Their message: Stop your whining and accept Trump as our president. I don’t know why I should be surprised that conservatives operate by a different standard when THEIR guy is the winner. If Trump had lost, they’d be screaming how the system is rigged and Trump himself wouldn’t have graciously conceded the outcome the way Hillary did; instead, he’d be threatening lawsuits. You know it’s true.

Frankly, I’m glad Hillary is out of the picture. She is a flawed candidate whose history is a distraction. Now the people who think Trump is so wonderful because he’s told them what they want to hear can see how he will drop his promises to them and demonstrate what a fascist he is. No more “but Hillary would be worse” retorts.

It’s very sad to me that much of what has been accomplished over the last eight years (in spite of congressional obstruction) will be dismantled, along with environmental regulations and steps to ensure social justice with equality for groups traditionally discriminated against. I don’t know if Trump’s supporters fully understand what they have unleashed and what sort of man they’ve allowed to cheapen and tarnish the presidency.

It’s very telling that the powers most excited by a Trump victory are the bankers, the oil companies and foreign tyrants he admires. He’s promised to get rid of the regulations that would prevent too-big-to-fail banks from creating another crisis and shock to the financial system. We’ll eventually end up in the same tragic place, privatizing their profits and subsidizing their risk, told once again that the taxpayers must bail these greedy bastards out or face the collapse of our whole economy. And once again, the irresponsible parties will get away with it scot-free because they’ll have bribed allies in high places. Perhaps the Republicans will now privatize social security so they can gamble it on the stock market. Perhaps Secretary of the Interior Sarah Palin will open up thousands of miles of public land for oil drilling so we can destroy the environment. Perhaps Trump will let his buddy Vladimir Putin to expand his military aspirations across Eastern Europe by letting NATO collapse.

God help us.

Update: Donald Trump has pledged to nominate a bunch of generals to his Cabinet (military coup anyone?) and is considering another (David Petraeus) who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information; has a white supremacist for his chief strategist; wants a lady who hates public education to run the Dept of Education; picked a neurosurgeon with no bureaucratic experience to manage Housing and Urban Development because he’s a black guy; chose a guy Congress deemed too racist to be confirmed as a federal judge to be Attorney General; named a guy who has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency on behalf of oil and gas companies to run it; is considering the head of Exxon Mobil (which has a pending deal with Russian leader Vladimir Putin) as Secretary of State; selected a guy who pays his workers minimum wage and wants to replace them with robots to run the Dept of Labor; and says he is going to pack the Supreme Court with activist judges.

Depending on your political leanings, all of that is either wonderful or inspires dread. I’m trying to keep an open mind about Mr. Trump, but he’s not making it easy.

I remember how many people spread warnings that Obama was going to confiscate our guns, impose Sharia law and put us in FEMA concentration camps. Maybe the talk about Mr. Trump is similarly exaggerated.