What Comes Next?
The inaugration, and the historic protests that followed, have concluded. Now, for the nightmare.
January 23, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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There is, and will be, nothing normal about the presidency of Donald Trump. The next four years will be dangerous for far too many of us.
As members of a private school in a state that sends only members of the opposition Democratic Party to Congress, the machinations of Trump’s administration, and the Republican Congress that has overwhelmingly accepted a uniquely detested and unqualified nominee, might feel far away from our own day-to-day lives. But the rise in hate crimes inspired by Trump’s rhetoric has already reverberated around the country, and the disintegration of economic and social equality that will be enabled by the policies of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will be felt by the all those who benefitted from the progress of the last eight years. As we go forward, it is imperative now more than ever that we seek truth in objective facts and justice for the historically marginalized in whatever ways we can, and to refuse at every step to accommodate hatred, willful ignorance, and unchecked greed in exchange for the illusion of peace.
Trump’s election was not an inconceivable occurrence based on the polls, which foresaw Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote by around four percentage points. Instead, she won by about two percentage points. Of course, she lost the election thanks to an electoral college system that was designed to allow slave states with miniscule voting populations to compete in national elections. That system now gives extra weight to the votes of white voters in the Midwest while discarding Clinton’s landslide margins in the most populous Democratic states and narrow defeats in the most populous Republican states. And data journalists at FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times repeatedly covered how that electoral college weakness could render a Clinton popular vote win useless in the event of a close race and a small polling error, which is exactly what occurred.
It was not entirely without historical precedent, either. From the end of Reconstruction’s protections of black voting rights in 1876 to the “Law and Order” presidency of Richard Nixon after the Civil Rights movement, periods of sustained progress for America’s marginalized have always sparked a cultural backlash. White supremacy has always reared its head and fought deadly battles to prevent any realization of a just, multicultural America.
Regardless of how it came about, it must be condemned as unacceptable. Many will insist that Trump must be “given a chance,” that deference to the office of the presidency should override his degradation of the fundamental tenets of liberal democracy. But whether or not his electoral victory was technically legitimate – and the interventions of Kremlin-directed Russian hackers and scandal-mongering FBI director James Comey prove that that it wasn’t – a republic that can elect a champion of white supremacy, of misogyny and sexual violence, and a man with absolutely no qualifications to hold any political office, to the highest position in its government, is a republic that has ceased to function. Trump’s hold on the executive branch of a global superpower cannot be undone for four years, but all of us should prepare to fight it, and none of us should ever think that it will be okay. It won’t be.
I could not vote in this election, and neither could most of us. That powerlessness will only be temporary,and once it disappears, every one who can should take every opportunity to participate in elections at every level, and to expand and protect voting rights, and to ensure that candidates backed by white nationalism are removed from power and never enabled to return.