“Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing,” George Orwell
So often in American history backlash has followed progress. It happened after the Civil War, with civil rights legislation leading to Nixon, Bush following Clinton, and now Trump following Obama. At the top of the greasy pole, alas, is a glass ceiling. A former friend sent me an email stating only, “Ding Dong the witch is dead. The wicked witch is dead.” I want nothing to do with such mean-spirited people.
Confounding most polls and pundits, Donald J. Trump is President-elect of the U.S. Watching most rustbelt states turning red was disheartening and cause for mourning. I thought of 1980, when Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, and 1986, when Kurt Waldheim was elected president of Austria despite his having been complicit in Nazi atrocities. The American system is designed to put checks and balances on would-be tyrants, but with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress I shudder to think what mischief is in store for the nation and the environment. Someone close to me wrote: “It's crazy to think that the parents and family that raised me are actively working to harm all that I fight for. It's a feeling millions of us will feel. It's surreal.”
Brady Wade, who spent the past two months working for Democrats in North Carolina, wrote:
Tomorrow we'll have to look in the eyes of those burdened with regrets, and rabid with hate. Throughout all this, we'll be looked on with inevitably sadistic glee by those enjoying our fall.
Tomorrow we face the America we've discovered ourselves wallowing in.
Tonight...all I can say is i tried. In all ways I knew how, and quite a few I didn't. I spent the last few months fighting a tidal wave of hate and misinformation, that I and many others underestimated. And this night is the night it washes over us.
Tomorrow we will stand, strong, with love in our hearts. Tomorrow we will continue fighting for a better life for all. For now...I tried. A lot of us did. And humanity as a whole just came up short.
Rather than watch early returns, I played duplicate bridge as Charlie Halberstadt’s partner. We finished second. The final hand, I had 20 points and no five-card suit so opened one Diamond. When Charlie bid one No-Trump, I jumped to 3 No-Trump. He made game on the nose despite losing two finesses. When I saw that someone made four No-Trump, I realized I should have opened two No-Trump; that way, the partner (me) with the stronger hand would have been playing the contract. When I left Chesterton Y at 9:30, I expected Hillary to be on her way to victory. What a reality check. Indiana was especially disappointing. Senate candidate Evan Bayh did virtually no campaigning in Northwest Indiana; it was almost like he did not wish to return to Congress.
In the Huffington Post educator Ali Michael wrote an essay entitled, “What Do We Tell the Children.” Here are excerpts:
Tell them that you will honor the outcome of the election, but that you will fight bigotry. Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated at your school. Tell them you stand by your Muslim families. Your same-sex parent families. Your gay students. Your Black families. Your female students. Your Mexican families. Your disabled students. Your immigrant families. Your trans students. Your Native students. Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first. Say that you will stand united as a school community, and that you will protect one another. Say that silence is dangerous, and teach them how to speak up when something is wrong. Then teach them how to speak up, how to love one another, how to understand each other, how to solve conflicts, how to live with diverse and sometimes conflicting ideologies, and give them the skills to enter a world that doesn’t know how to do this.
Remind them ― to ease their minds ― that not everyone who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believe the bigoted things that he has said this year. Many of them voted for him because they feel frustrated with the economy, they feel socially left behind, and they are exercising the one power they have. We need to challenge Trump and his supporters to differentiate between their fears and the bigotry catalyzed by those fears.
The New Yorker’s David Remnick wrote:
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.
The commentators, in their attempt to normalize this tragedy, will also find ways to discount the bumbling and destructive behavior of the F.B.I., the malign interference of Russian intelligence, the free pass—the hours of uninterrupted, unmediated coverage of his rallies—provided to Trump by cable television, particularly in the early months of his campaign. We will be asked to count on the stability of American institutions, the tendency of even the most radical politicians to rein themselves in when admitted to office. Liberals will be admonished as smug, disconnected from suffering, as if so many Democratic voters were unacquainted with poverty, struggle, and misfortune. There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency. Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future—it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so—but this is surely the way fascism can begin.
In “Divided We Stand” Ray Smock concluded:
President Obama will be gracious and escort Trump to his inauguration next January, and the new administration will begin. It is important that it play out this way. I have no idea how bad a Trump administration it will be. Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised that he and his associates will form a fair government. Or perhaps he will wreck the one we have now.
It is vital that the nation accept the results of this election and give it a chance to work. Our election process has never been perfect but it is all we have that stands between legitimate government and anarchy. Having said this, however, this does not mean that any American of either political party, or no party at all, gives up the right to protest against actions of the government and to redress the government for any grievances we have with it. It will be important for all Americans to be vigilant with any president, but especially with one who has no experience in governance.
The nation remains split down the middle on so many issues. We must keep looking for ways to come together and make government and the private sector work for the betterment of all the people in our country and to remain a beacon of freedom to the world.
Before speaking at IUN’s gallery about Woody Guthrie and 1930s folk music, Ron Cohen declared that it was a day for mourning. He made reference to anti-red witch-hunts that occurred beginning in the late-1930s, both at the national level (HUAC) and in Oklahoma and New York. I insisted on introducing Ron even though everyone present knew him well.
Fred McColly brought three volumes of his journal to the Archives and posted a “Solidarity” cartoon as well as the statement, “It will be a long four years.”
Garrison Keillor (above) wrote:
So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting "Lock her up" -- we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted "Stronger Together." It just doesn't chant.
The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that's their problem now. They only wanted to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay -- by "us," I mean librarians, children's authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, birdwatchers, people who make their own pasta, opera goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.
Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next.