My feelings last night and into this morning include: anger, resentment, sadness, isolation, and existential fear. I doubt this post will be very eloquent or really express my feelings and thoughts well, but I wanted to write something down. Sadly, I am physically far from any of my loved ones today, which only adds to the black mood.
I have two points to make: (1) to remind everyone that the Trump win can’t be easily slotted into a media narrative, and much of the current narrative is wrong, and (2) that I am hoping this moment will be a motivator for myself, and other compassionate people, to leave my enclave of privilege and work harder to positively impact this broken nation and world.
(1) Commentators on the election are describing Trump’s win as a “rebuke to the elites” and a populist victory. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the “popul-” in that particular brand of populism is an incredibly narrowly defined demographic, one that defines huge swaths of the American population as other, as an outgroup to be despised. The implication in calling someone like Trump a populist is that he is appealing to the “real” people rather than minority or niche groups. Needless to say, that is ludicrous. Trump’s success comes from his appeal to a very narrow segment of the population, and we cannot lose sight of that. Not to mention the supreme irony that Trump’s status as an elite and his shameless pandering were seen as genuine by many voters, but Clinton’s less nakedly hypocritical behavior was seen as lying fakery. If anyone thought they were delivering a rebuke to the elites by voting Trump, I have to flatly say they were misguided and wrong.
(2) Speaking from my position as a privileged person, I am pretty insulated from some of the worst potential consequences of the upcoming Trump presidency. At this point, we can only hope that some of the gravest fears and predictions people have made will not come true (though it’s hard to hold out too much hope for healthcare, climate policy, etc.). I want to express my empathy for those I know who aren’t quite so privileged, and hope that things will not change too much for the worse in their lives. I also hope this horrible disaster will be a linchpin that will motivate compassionate people to work harder to make the world the way we want it, rather than relying on electoral politics to do the trick. I reserve the next day or two for moping, but if you see me wallowing in bitterness and cynicism, rather than working to effect change, any time in the next four years, remind me of these words I wrote. Engagement at the local level is what we need now–we’re in this together.