I didn’t stay up until the bitter end. Once it was clear Hillary would lose I went to bed, although I didn’t sleep much. I couldn’t bear to see her concede, and I don’t want to hear from Trump, or his surrogates — now or ever. He will profoundly reshape America and affect my life. I have to concede the big win for Republicans across the board — validating white resentment, validating Mitch McConnell’s strategy of stonewalling on President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, validating the Freedom Caucus that refuses to agree to anything and then uses that as evidence that government doesn’t work. But my own personal piece of resistance to the ugliness that is Donald Trump is to turn my back on his teleprompter words. I don’t want to hear from him, his wife, his Stepford offspring. Tom Friedman, writing in the New York Times, said he feels homeless. I do too — completely alienated from what has apparently become the majority American embrace of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, derision for institutions like a free press, and disregard for climate science.
African American CNN contributor Van Jones said last night that the vote is “a whitelash” against a browning American and against President Obama. Jones asked what he is supposed to tell his children. I wish, this morning, that I could find some consoling or hopeful words for my grown family, and for my grandkids, who will have to live with Trump’s destruction longer than I. But I’m really struggling.
Lily was texting me from Panama throughout the night, and this morning she said two things that are common understandings in her country — no stranger to dictatorial rule. One is that a country gets the government it deserves. The other is that power brutalizes.
Peter Beinart, writing for the Atlantic, puts words to how I feel:
“I don’t respect this election result. I must abide by it, of course. But I don’t respect it. I respect the people who voted for Donald Trump. As private individuals, they’re no better or worse than anyone else. But I don’t respect their decision to elect a man who blames vulnerable minorities for America’s problems. Who threatens journalists for reporting the news. Who castigates judges for requiring him to abide by the rule of law. Who boasts about his enthusiasm for torture. Who cheers on his supporters on when they beat protesters. I don’t respect that. I won’t pretend the people possess infinite wisdom. I’m a Jew. We know better.”
Over time the gloom will abate, and believers in liberal democracy will find ways to resist Trump and do the hard work of reclaiming our country. But it’s going to be a very hard four years.
I said this before, but it bears repeating: Trump has been clear from the beginning about who he is, what he believes. Those of you who voted for him can’t ever say you didn’t know, or didn’t understand.