So. We just elected a president endorsed by the KKK, who’s in bed with Putin and quotes Mussolini.
The first day after the election social media’s been flooded with accounts of hate crimes and racist taunts all the way down to kindergarteners telling their classmates they’ll be deported. This is what we’ve validated. The GOP leadership is proudly declaring that as soon as the January session opens they’ll repeal Obamacare (and the bill they put forward last time they tried was a nightmare) and then systematically seek to undo every bit of progress Obama has made over the last 8 years. What a gesture of unity.
Last month my book club read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and we had a lively discussion about the book’s timeline. Even in a post-apocalyptic mid-1980s full of toxic waste, a hyper-religious military coup, and a rapidly declining human population– even in those dire circumstances, could society change so rapidly in a few years? Could our civil rights be eroded so abruptly? Our debate narrowed further: would so many people really sit by and watch it happen, hiding in their homes until it was too late and there was no longer a way out?
We’re not in a nuclear holocaust (yet). But we did just elect a fascist, and grant him a supportive Congress and the next Supreme Court appointment. America isn’t magically immune to fear mongering rhetoric. We’ve committed terrible crimes in the name of fear before. Remember the eugenics movement? Remember Japanese internment camps? Remember when we turned away shiploads of Jewish refugees at the beginning of World War II?
Our President-Elect has already talked about blocking refugees and his rhetoric against Muslims is so incendiary I could easily see the topic of camps come up again. His assertions that you stop terrorists by killing their families (a war crime) sounds an awful lot like Mussolini trying to stop the Sicilian Mafia by killing their families (guess what, they still exist). And his compatriots in the party are obsessed with scaling back LGBT and women’s rights, healthcare access, bodily autonomy.
What I’m saying is, we’re here. This isn’t just another vitriolic election cycle. This isn’t sour grapes because our team lost the Superbowl. The stakes weren’t the same for both sides. Hillary wasn’t threatening to deport the white working class.
And I’m already seeing these posts online: folks saying calm down, it’s going to be okay, this happens every four years, give him a chance, we always come out fine. Except our President-Elect specifically promised that not everybody will come out fine. He has specifically promised to target minority communities and break apart families and eliminate federal funding of public programs that keep people alive. When I see people say, “It’s going to be okay,” what that really means is, “It’s going to be okay for me. Nobody’s coming after me. Stop trying to stress me out.” Well everybody else doesn’t have the luxury to wait and see and hope he’s an incompetent liar and doesn’t actually do it.
I’ve already been guilty of complacency, assuming throughout this entire outrageous election cycle that surely enough people saw through the bluster to the con man beneath, surely enough people didn’t have such blatant hatred for their neighbors, surely enough people weren’t so apathetic to the plight of others that they would tolerate overtly racist and sexist threats in exchange for the vague and unlikely promise of manufacturing jobs. Well. I was wrong.
It’s going to be okay… if enough people organize and stand up for the rights of their neighbors, if we can get enough momentum going to flip the House in 2018 and mitigate the worst of it. It isn’t going to be okay if we all stick our heads in the sand and assume that somebody else is probably taking care of it, or if we figure that as long as we’re nice to the people around us and vote right we’re doing our part and the rest will sort out. That isn’t enough.
So I’m going to get involved. I don’t know how yet. There are so many different causes at stake it’s dizzying. But I’m banding together with my friends and we’ll find a way to put ourselves to good use. Even if it’s just fundraising for Planned Parenthood or getting involved in our local Democratic Party. Something. I can’t keep being the person with my head in the sand, hoping they never knock on my door.