This moment is the first that I am truly pondering a Donald Trump presidency. Sure, I’ve entertained it before, hypothetically, but only as a means of trying to understand others. As the numbers shift, my heart rate increases. It’s 9:25 p.m., and The New York Times is giving Trump an 89 percent chance of winning the presidency.
If that happens, I will awaken tomorrow to a slightly different nation.
It will look exactly the same. My daily routines won’t be ruined. My life will continue. But things will be different. The divide will become a schism.
And leading half of that schism will be a man whose ideas are non-existent, whose policies are paper-thin and whose entire campaign has been punctuated by acts of the sort which only continue to degrade the moral fabric of this nation.
It is unfathomable to be writing this. I tried to get my editors to let me run just the word “Wow,” in this big blank space, but they said no. I had to fill it with actual words, they said.
What else is there to say, America?
We fought the good fight. We had all the information. We had leaked tapes, rediscovered emails and even Twitter. Yet in the face of all that we knew, we chose Trump. I just don’t understand how. Who are all of you so mad at? The immigrants? The ‘gays’? Anyone who isn’t a white male?
I can’t force myself to believe that this election represents an America looking toward more conservative values. If it was Jeb Bush in this position, my fingers would be working so much better. I could write it away, I could internalize it; it would make total sense to me. But this just doesn’t.
This isn’t a representation of conservative values. It’s a portrait of the things that can make this great nation so ugly, spattered across its face in reds and blues like a Pollock painting, strewn by an angry electorate with too broad a brush. We’re in trouble, and if you think differently, recognize that the man who sits in our highest office has aims of throwing millions of people out of this country.
I fear for America. The world has watched this, and now they know where enough of us stand. People are willing, even excited, to stand behind a demagogue. To stand behind a crotch-grabbing, fear-mongering, racist balloon of a human being who alone represents many of our darkest tendencies, and has shown an unrivaled willingness to abuse a power one one-hundredth of the one we have just given him.
Perhaps that’s the root of my issue. I see Trump as a cruel caricature of all the worst parts of America, and through this election cycle, the troll that lives under our bridge has been given a voice. People have been emboldened, not by passion, but by an anger stemming from the belief that this nation belongs to ‘them’ and not to us all. It is an attitude that has reared its head more than ever in the past four years. We’ve seen racism and reactions. We’ve seen homophobia in its most horrific sense, coupled directly with mass shootings and terrorist attacks. We’ve watched fear creep in slowly, undermining common sense.
And in our chance to react with dignity, to react as a nation willing to stand up in the face of a watching world and proudly declare our sanity, we have handed the keys to the kingdom to someone who has shown a willfulness to spit in the face of truth and a pension for provocation usually reserved for dictators whom we Americans sneer at on television.
Our only option now is to continue as we were. This victory won’t affect our daily lives, at least not immediately. We can still go to Taco Bell, attend classes, learn new things and hopefully even keep producing journalism. The world, though grayer through my eyes, will still contain joy. I suppose that this election cycle has colored my perception of the American people. Where once it was bright, it is now much darker.