I've kept pretty quiet on the election results, for many, many reasons. To name the top few: I am not American; I do however have a large American family; said American family is diverse in their politics; I think I understand what just happened, and don't think either side really wants to hear it. That said, my grandparents both recommend a 72 hour mourning period before one launches themselves forward, and that hour has come.
First and foremost, I am upset too. Let's get that straight right away. A Trump presidency is frightening and angering in a lot of ways. He's a buffoon - a hotheaded ball of chaos with his fingers on the literal button. He's a demagogue, an arrogant, ego-driven, reckless man with nothing to lose. The idea of a man like that being the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth is nothing short of horrifying.
I'm scared for my gay friends. I'm scared for my - let's just be honest here - anything but white friends. I'm scared for my female friends. Not of Trump, directly, but of what his win represents. I'm frightened by the idea that such a significant portion of the population voted for a person, and a party, that so unabashedly disrespects social and equal rights. I'm furious that their concerns about vague threats outweighed their compassion for their fellow human. I'm deeply concerned that Mike Fucking Pence has been offered even the slightest taste of power (if Trump is your real worry, you haven't been paying attention, I assure you). I'm saddened that people I know and love proudly and loudly voted for a party that will persecute other people we know and love. I've seen families literally split by this election, and as much as it breaks my heart, it seems rather unavoidable - how can one's gay, or immigrant, or Muslim, or disabled loved one look you in the eye with love, knowing you voted for a party that would happily mock them and strip them of their basic rights? The anger and devastation is palpable, and it's justified.
But let's get real, here: this isn't about Trump. Captain Cheeto didn't create this situation out of thin air. His success is the direct result of an angry, fearful, disenfranchised population. He tapped into an already brewing atmosphere - he read the crowd, and he did it well. He knew that people were fed-up, annoyed, put-off, and shunned. And, I'm really, really sorry, but it's partly our fault. By "our", I mean we, the allegedly progressive. The socially engaged. The so-called liberals. We had a hand in this, like it or not. The regressive left, in particular, pushed and pushed and pushed until it was inevitable that they would be pushed back, and hard. This is, at least partially, the result of accusing everyone who disagrees with you even slightly of being racist, or sexist, or homophobic, or xenophobic. Many on the left have spent years collecting enemies rather than building alliances, and are just now seeing the result of that. This is a push-back, have no doubt about it.
Trump isn't actually that scary - the man is a life-long classic liberal. What is scary is what his nomination represents, though perhaps not in the way most think. What's scary is that you, America, has become so divided that half of you voted for a reality-TV star to be your leader, and the other half of you are literally questioning democracy because of it. What's scary is that white supremacy has become fashionable again. What's scary is that giddily, and vocally, waiting for my parents' generation to die is considered an acceptable response. What's scary, from afar, is watching your divide get deeper and deeper with every passing moment.
If there is anything I've learned in my 36 years on Earth, it's that hatred does not conquer hatred. I understand why the right is riled. I understand why the left is horrified. I understand that vast numbers of people on all sides of the spectrum are fed-up, disappointed, frustrated, and angry. What I do not, and refuse to, understand is making enemies of one another. I refuse to accept the idea that most people hate most other people. I do not believe that is true, and this election doesn't change anything for me in that regard. I do not believe that most Trump "supporters" are racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic. I believe they are fed-up with the status quo, and took a gamble, partly because they are sick of being called all the aforementioned names for having different concerns. I do not believe that most Clinton "supporters" are war-mongers, rad-fems, misandrists, or sell-outs. I believe they are fed-up with anti-feminist sentiments, legitimacy being given to bigotry, and unbridled, irresponsible knee-jerking.
Neither Clinton nor Trump were truly popular candidates, and for good reason. Few could truly get behind their messages, few could really take them seriously. And that, right there, proves that you have more in common than you think. You are all fed-up. You are all frustrated. You are all disappointed. You all want better. And so, I ask you, I beg you, I implore you - please, please, please, demand better. Do not make enemies of yourselves, build alliances. Recognize that the rights you want for yourselves absolutely have to translate to rights you want for others as well. You cannot claim to be pro-freedom while actively trying to deny your fellow citizens their right to pursue happiness. You cannot claim to be pro-democracy while shaming people for voting their conscience. You cannot claim to be pro-life while advocating people's deaths.
The choice is yours, America. You can hate, or you can build.