What To Do About The US Election Results?

Posted by on Nov 13, 2016 in Miscellaneous | 5 comments

At this point, I interrupt my (admittedly very sporadic) coverage of our year of awesome to bring you a short post on the US election.

I know. What a downer. If you’d really just rather go back one post and read about camping with baby turtles, I understand, because I don’t want to spend some my sunny weekend afternoon writing about this, either. I’m just starting to shake off the unprecedented sense of shock and revulsion that gripped me as the election results unfolded this week. And it’s a glorious day here in the South Pacific. We took the kids to a ranch this morning and put them on horses for the first time. We came home sweating and swam in the pool.

America and the election seem further away now… at least until I remember that nothing and no one is ever truly far away in this day and age. Or I look at my American husband and American children. Or I check the news.

When I first took to facebook on Wednesday to express my sadness at the election result, one of my friends who voted for Trump asked me to explain the top three things that I thought this election result meant.

This is what I said:

1.  A person who is shockingly ill-equipped to understand and deal with many serious policy and diplomacy issues has been elected to the highest office of the land. He has no previous experience governing, limited policy experience, and an apparently very poor grasp on basic geography and international politics.

2.  This person also appears shockingly ill-equipped temperamentally for this role. Even if you leave aside all the really egregious stuff (and, really, how can we leave aside, “grab ‘em by the pussy”?) Donald Trump seems to hold grudges, take disagreements as personal insults, harness and stir up pain and anger and point to “outside groups” as appropriate targets for that anger, and regularly say and do things out of spite and petulance. ‘Speaking your mind’ is not an admirable quality if all it really means is that you lack the filters most people acquire as they mature.

3.  The first two points, combined, means that no one can really know exactly WHAT these results mean for the future. But I do believe that his election creates more room for people to talk and act in the sexist, racist, hate-mongering, unashamedly ugly way that Trump did throughout his campaign. It makes me deeply concerned about the sort of president he could become, and very sad that this is the best that the US democratic system could do this time around—particularly since more people in the US actually voted for his opponent than voted for him.

When Mike and I were planning our wedding, good friends advised us to identify our “die in a ditch” issues and to really try to be flexible about the rest.

“I would rather die in a ditch than have a videographer film our wedding,” this friend said to us. “But whether we have a cake?? I don’t want one, but I can flex on that.”

I thought about this conversation this week, because Trump’s campaign pushed a number of my “die in a ditch” buttons.

I see some of Donald Trump’s sexist, racist, and other behaviors as deal-breakers. In my opinion, they should have disqualified him for the presidency (almost independent of who his opponent was).

But as the election results rolled in I realized afresh that many, many others were not prepared to die in those ditches. They had different deal-breakers. Or, at least they felt they could overlook those things that I would point to as deal breakers.

Is it any wonder emotions are running so high about this election result when these sort of die in the ditch issues were what so many genuinely felt were at stake? When so many people felt overwhelming, gut-level antipathy towards one (or perhaps both) of the candidates?

Anyway, this election has already spawned a thousand impassioned articles on both side of the divide. A number of these have captured my own sentiments and/or challenged me think about things differently during the last couple of days. I’ve pulled out excerpts from some of these and included them at the end of this post.

Before that, though, I want to stop focusing on reactions for a minute and talk about actions.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I feel distraught at the results of this election. And I am trying—slowly and painfully—to learn to view these moments of strong emotion (or, uh, tidal waves as the case may be) as invitations to do something more than indulge in armchair outrage or grief. To do something.

So in the last couple of days I’ve started to ask myself how then, I want to act. Who I want to be in this season?

An American colleague of Mike’s put this on her facebook wall the morning after the election:

Today I grieve, wearing black to symbolize mourning for American minorities, the LGBT community, women’s rights and international diplomacy. But today I will also take action because there is one lesson that this travesty has taught me: individual action can make a collective difference.

For the duration of a Trump presidency, I will give up meat. As with the historical practice of fasting across many religions in many countries, I do this for the purpose of commemorative mourning and commemorative gratitude. Commemorative mourning for the impending loss of rights, respect and value for American and international communities. Commemorative gratitude for the ability to take individual action, the discovery of socially progressive family and friends, a certainly better future as that blue wave of 18 – 25 year olds move into positions of influence.

The money I save from not buying meat will form the core of a $100 monthly donation to EveryTown for Gun Sense. I am passionate about bringing sense to gun laws in the United States and believe that this lack of sense contributed heavily to the outcome of this election.

Please consider what you can do, whether near or far, to ensure that damage is limited during the next four years. It’s time to take action.

I think she’s right about that action thing. So the action I have decided to take next year is to donate 15% of my income from my Modern Love website to support causes I feel strongly for. Causes that support the marginalized and vulnerable in the US, in Australia, and here in Vanuatu.

I’m not sharing this looking for praise or approval (in fact, I sort of feel like this is something I should already have been doing.) I am sharing this because I learn so much when other people let me behind the scenes of their lives and deep into their stories, and I feel like one of my “callings” in life is to offer my own story and along-the-way reactions and actions to those who are interested.

So, I’m done now. It turns out that I totally lied about this being a short post. How apropos.

But before I leave you with some links and excerpts from articles that spoke to or challenged me (below), I would love it if you would jump down to the comment section and do any (or all) of the following):

  1. Leave a link to some of your favorite charities or groups that you support.
  2. Leave a link to any article on the election that has really spoken to you.
  3. Let me know if you’ve decided to do anything specific as the result of the events of the past week.

Thanks for reading,

lisa_sig

America Elects a Bigot

It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself….

How can I make sense of the fact that the president appeared in pornos?

How can I make sense of the fact that the man who will appoint the next attorney general has himself boasted of assaulting women? What will this president’s vaunted “law and order” program for “inner cities” look like in an age where minority communities are already leery of police aggression?

How do I make sense of the fact that a man who attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage” will be the man who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice and scores of federal judges?…

When I think of all these people and then think of all the people who voted to make this man president — and those who didn’t vote, thereby easing the way for his ascension — I cannot help but feel some measure of anger. I must deal with that anger. I don’t want to wrestle it to the ground; I want to harness it.”

Mike Rowe Finally Weighs In On Trump’s Victory. Hillary’s Supporters Won’t Like This.

“[The election] was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change. The people did not want a politician. The people wanted to be seen. Donald Trump convinced those people that he could see them. Hillary Clinton did not.”

Autocracy: Rules for Survival

 “The second falsehood is the pretense that America is starting from scratch and its president-elect is a tabula rasa. Or we are: “we owe him an open mind.” It was as though Donald Trump had not, in the course of his campaign, promised to deport US citizens, promised to create a system of surveillance targeted specifically at Muslim Americans, promised to build a wall on the border with Mexico, advocated war crimes, endorsed torture, and repeatedly threatened to jail Hillary Clinton herself. It was as though those statements and many more could be written off as so much campaign hyperbole and now that the campaign was over, Trump would be eager to become a regular, rule-abiding politician of the pre-Trump era.

But Trump is anything but a regular politician and this has been anything but a regular election….”

Adele Waugaman

“To my white friends and family who voted for Trump, this is the most succinct explanation I’ve seen of why allegations of racism are now flying. It is not because you are a conservative or a Republican, it is because you could vote for a man who has openly expressed racial (and other!) forms of bigotry with some semblance of assurance that this bigotry likely would not be directed at you. This is white privilege, and it comes at the expense of others’ basic rights.”

What Happened On Election Day

“The upper 20 percent of income earners, many of them quite liberal and rightly committed to the defense of minorities and immigrants, also believe in the economic meritocracy and their own right to have so much more than those who are less fortunate. So while they may be progressive on issues of discrimination against the obvious victims of racism and sexism, they are blind to their own class privilege and to the hidden injuries of class that are internalized by much of the country as self-blame…

The left needs to stop ignoring people’s inner pain and fear. The racism, sexism and xenophobia used by Mr. Trump to advance his candidacy does not reveal an inherent malice in the majority of Americans. If the left could abandon all this shaming, it could rebuild its political base by helping Americans see that much of people’s suffering is rooted in the hidden injuries of class and in the spiritual crisis that the global competitive marketplace generates.”

The Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Witness In Supporting Trump

“I count myself a follower of Christ and always will. I love the church. But I believe the majority of white evangelicals and their leaders, barring a few, have failed not only the U.S., but failed the collective flock in the stance they took. I believe they have a lost a generation and, as they say in the church, “lost their witness” to future generations.”

Here’s Why We Grieve Today

“This is not about losing an election. This isn’t about not winning a contest. This is about two very different ways of seeing the world.

Hillary spoke about a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high. 

Trump imagined a very selective America; one that is largely white and straight and Christian, and the voting verified this. Donald Trump has never made any assertions otherwise. He ran a campaign of fear and exclusion and isolation—and that’s the vision of the world those who voted for him have endorsed… We’re not angry that our candidate lost. We’re angry because our candidate’s losing means this country will be less safe, less kind, and less available to a huge segment of its population.”

Open Letter To All Of The Whiny Safe Space Liberals Crying Over Our ‘Racist’ And ‘Sexist’ Country

“I’m sick and tired of it. I’m sick and tired of these uninformed jackholes telling me that I’m racist, sexist, Islamophobic and homophobic. They have no basis for those claims. They’re consumed by their emotions.  Do they honestly believe Hillary Clinton lost solely because she’s a woman? It couldn’t possibly have anything with her being a pathological liar who’s spent her entire life pursuing political power? It had nothing to do with the fact that America’s not satisfied with her vision for America– an America with open borders, higher taxes and more bureaucratic scumbags in D.C. telling us how to run our lives?

We’re not racist. We’re not sexist. We want people to come into this country legally. That’s not racist. Progressive leadership in the big, urban cities hasn’t pulled the black community out of poverty. It’s worsened it. Liberalism has failed them. We acknowledge that. We want them to prosper. That’s not racist…”

Crying from a Life Raft: A request of my white Christian brothers

“As a minority, it is easy for me to empathize with the struggles of other minority groups because in many ways they are my own, are a part of my heritage or are things that I fear. The moment I realized that the gates of hatred toward them had been opened in the destigmatizing of those behaviors by electing someone who has exhibited them all, I felt terror for my neighbor and I wept…

…As I watched white male after white male remind everyone that our hope is in God and essentially tell me to move on, I got increasingly frustrated. How easy for them to say when this would only at best inconvenience their lives. This stance was more easily taken from a position of privilege and relative safety. If you were wailing for yourself because you lost and you are not a person of color, of a different religion, differently abled or any other of the categories of people regularly under attack, I agree—dry your eyes, move along. But, if you despair for the future of your neighbors, don’t rush that…”

An Open Letter to My Conservative Family (Esp. Christians)

“There are a lot of reasons you voted for Trump. Many of you were voting platform, or because you did not want Hillary, or because you believe he’s a good businessman, or any number of reasons. I understand, and I’m not here to attack those.

But even as you’re excited and celebrating this morning, I want you to know: You have a Responsibility.

There are a lot of problems with Trump — I’m sure most of you will agree to that. There are problems with every candidate. But you did decide that those problems were worth risking when you cast your vote for him (the same way I decided Hillary’s were worth risking when I cast my vote for her). And so you do have a Responsibility to own and address those risks…

I know that you are not racist, sexist, or hateful. I know you are loving people. But the truth is many Trump supporters aren’t like you. If you are silent, your vote for him will be a vote for them, because they are not silent. So speak out against hate. Show grace and support to those who are afraid.”

And, if you’re still with me, don’t forget to:

  1. Leave a link to some of your favorite charities or groups that you support.
  2. Leave a link to any article on the election that has really spoken to you.
  3. Let me know if you’ve decided to do anything specific as the result of the events of the past week.

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Related posts:

Church in the bedroom
Farewell, for now
Ten things I’ve been doing instead of blogging

5 Comments

  1. Like you, I feel pretty distraught about this. I’m politically moderate and made a choice after consideration and prayer NOT to vote for either candidate. I think it was harder for me that he won (because of how incongruous it is) than if she had won. I just don’t get how so many folks can give him a pass on so many icky behaviors. Anyway, I posted tonight and linked to one really great piece by Erika Morrison. http://www.livesayhaiti.com/2016/11/the-way-forward.html

    • I loved the phrase in your post about it being traffic grid-lock, Haiti style. So true. I can’t remember any other election in my life being so emotive, so divisive.

  2. I grieve and my heart goes out to all those that will be impacted by this election. I hoped our country had moved past these issues. I thought people I knew even die hard Republicans would never vote for He Who Must Not Be Named. I was so very wrong and it crushed me. Not because she lost, not because he won, but because his platform went against every single one of my core values and I never thought I had so many hypocrites in my midst. I was wrong. About it all, about his ability to divide our country and his ability to divide who I respect. I still love them. But no I can’t respect anyone who watched his platform of hate and sexism and bigotry and intolerance and especially the violent rhetoric and thought yes that is the best choice to fix this country. Our allies weep, our countrymen weep, and I weep for what this regime really means for so many. I don’t see plentiful jobs oozing out of the woodwork, I don’t see lower taxes for the middle class, the wealthy yes of course but the average American who thought this guy was the answer not a chance. I don’t have any faith in the new regime so I choose to take a page out of my husbands families book and stick my head in the sand. I choose not to focus on him. Instead I will be a safe place for those who need it, I will be a rock for those who fear, I will be a voice for those who feel marginalized or bullied or whatever is in store for us. And yes I will work harder to donate even more to every single cause he spoke against!

    • “I thought people I knew even die hard Republicans would never vote for He Who Must Not Be Named.” Me too. To an extent. I always knew it was POSSIBLE he’d get elected but I didn’t want to believe that it could be.

      • I was crushed when one of my friends whom I felt would never, did, and actually said he was preferable. I had no words. Still don’t. I refuse to call him my president, I just can’t. He doesn’t represent me. I never believed that she would win by a landslide, it was a nail biter for me til the end but I admit, I NEVER EVER IN A MILLION years thought that he would win like he did. That was even more disillusioning to me. I have never been emotional about an election before. I actually cried my eyes out over this one.

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