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November 09, 2016

Mourn what could've been, but accept President-elect Trump's win

It’s OK to be sad. And angry. And scared. And confused.

Today is a day when our nation’s trajectory shifted in a direction unlike anything most of us have seen before. 

There is no way to truly know what’s coming next. That’s horrifying for many of our fellow Americans.

And justifiably so.

The Founding Fathers – who signed those nation-creating documents on the same block where thousands gathered to rally for the woman who earned fewer Electoral-College points than she needed – couldn’t likely have envisioned the mass-media vitriol that defined the 2016 presidential campaign, or the marrow-level desperation that fueled its results.

Those documents made Donald Trump’s rise to power possible, though.

The sooner we accept the results as reality, the sooner we can work on restoring America to the greatness it represented before this election cycle started.

I say we, but that’s not a collective we. A lot of people out there aren’t sad, angry, scared or confused today. That’s an important thing to stick your head out of your bubble and admit. 

You may loathe what they love, and some of them embraced lowest-common denominators, but they’re there, they’re your fellow Americans, and there are more of them than you figured.

They’re vindicated and hopeful that the man for whom they voted will live up to promises that often felt outlandish or ignorant.

If you’re still in blame-assessing mode, blame them, not him. Sadness, anger, fear and confusion played a role in their support, too. It wasn't only about sexism, racism and otherism.

Trump was merely their totem. They – not all, but many – voted less for a candidate and more for the promise of grasping a world that was culturally and economically slipping away from them.

I am a white man, so I won’t pretend that I can relate to the fears now swirling in the minds of women, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ and all who feel personally threatened by a nation that voted to elect a man who otherized them in pursuit of political power.

It’s an understatement to say my heart breaks for them, each and every one. That their gains can be rolled back is a nightmarish prospect.

I am a husband whose bride feels hopeless because of the results. 

I am a father of a 6-year-old son who – when I shared the news with him Wednesday morning – asked, “Is he really going to build that wall now?” (The question sparked a discussion about the fact that people often disagree with one another, but disagreement is no reason to be unkind to others.)

And, I am an American who wants to make sure this nation doesn’t crumble, which – quite frankly – remains uncertain in these raw after-hours.

The easy thing to do is dwell on everything that’s wrong with President-elect Trump, as I did for months and months before he somehow earned that title.

The path to healing is never easy, especially if your knee-jerk reaction to Trump’s call “to bind the wounds of division … and come together as one united people” is infuriated skepticism.

When a campaign wields division as a weapon, it can’t just turn around and pretend to embrace empathetic unity. I won’t buy it until I see it. Neither should you.

Those of us who find ourselves truly frightened for the America of our todays and our children’s tomorrows need to compartmentalize that rage.

We need to rue the loss of what we think could have been but didn't come to pass.

We need to find a way to ensure the hard-fought societal advancements of recent years aren’t washed away because our fellow voters decided to turn a reality TV star into the leader of the free world.

It won’t be easy, but nothing worth fighting for ever is.

Mourn for what could have been if that’s what you felt slip away over the past few hours.

Respectfully revel in victory if that’s what you felt materialize from a heavy fog when that little, yellow, electoral-map check showed up next to your candidate’s name. He apparently won fair and square; you needn’t get all cocky about it like Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager that Trump fired, did on CNN before the race was officially called Tuesday night.

Accept the fact that Donald Trump traipsed onto the political scene and tore the two-party establishment asunder.

Pray that Trump’s bluster was that, and now that he’s navigated unfamiliar waters, he will transition into a leader for all the people like he said he would early Wednesday morning.

But, you damn well better prepare for the worst, and then get to work making sure it doesn’t come to pass. 

If he goes lower than the low that became the campaign's benchmark, it'll be time to push back harder than we ever have before.