Editor’s Note: this blog was written a couple of days post election results. I’ve since had time to digest the results and come to broader conclusions. I stand by the words I’ve written and have since added a few more thoughts in the almost 2 months since the results.
Before I dive into the meat of this post, let me start by saying: If you’re reading this, I’m probably quite fond of you. I don’t enter into relationship or acquaintance-ship lightly. People in my life hold intrinsic value in addition to what God already says about each of you. That being said… it’s hard for me to reconcile all of the things I know to be true about each of you with the way I’ve seen many of people responding to the outcome, or responding to those lamenting about the outcome of the election.
I was raised by two BADASS parents. Both of them are children of the civil rights movement which means a couple of things: 1) open and law-sanctioned racism was a part of their everyday lives 2) they lived through school integration. (don’t think Little Rock Nine, think Ruby Bridges… ) 3) The 2016 campaign brought back a lot of memories from not so long ago. I remember a couple of times in elementary school when I wasn’t allowed to go past the end of my street. At the time, I figured it was because I was a kid (6 or 7 tops), but I later learned that there were KKK rallies happening in front of the government building adjacent to our house. Good parenting won out over their fear and I was none the wiser. For a white reader, the issue of how to shield your child from legally assembling hate groups will likely never be something you will have to deal with. If disgust, annoyance and a desire to disassociate were your reaction… keep reading, we’ll probably stay on the same page. But, for many minority readers, the hair on your arms may have risen, a lump may have formed in the pit of your stomach and a flash of a similar experience may have crossed your mind. For minorities, prejudice is built into the fabric of the American experience. Sometimes the racism is overt, sometimes it’s systematic and sometimes it’s so subtle, it takes your MOST astute (read: reactionary) friend to point it out to you. I can only imagine the opposition between people’s feelings from the 2008 election results and the 2016 results. All I can do is learn from history and move forward as a more informed, kinder, patient, assertive voter. So, let’s dive into the great divide, shall we?
Why are people sad/mad/protesting:
Liberal media outlet Huffington Post started adding an interesting editor’s note to the end of each of their articles discussing the sideshow that was the 2016 election season. This is what it said:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar,rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
They site their own articles in the links, but the facts (minus the additional liberal commentary) are not to be disputed. The climate of the 2016 election was contentious at best. Though— Embarrassing, unnecessary and over inflated would likely be better descriptors. When I first arrived in Uganda I thought it was kind of novel to have random boda drivers ask me ‘what’s up with your election?’ or want to debate American politics for our 5-10 minute drive. After 4 months of explaining that all Americans aren’t crazy, America doesn’t hate Muslims, not everyone is Christian, and everyone has the right to vote [except these people due to law or limitation], the novelty wore off.
Removing emotion from the equation (this required a full crying jag, a strong cocktail, many Ana Farris movies, a hilariously informative and dramatic roommate discussion, more Hillsong/ All Sons & Daughters/ & Shane + Shane than anyone needs in a lifetime, and 2 sleeps), I can genuinely say I’m one of these people. Here are a couple of my own personal reasons why I’m upset:
- I believe in a good and inclusive America: Trump is a poor representation of what America is: November 9th I made a joke about dusting off my old maple leaf patch and tacking that onto my backpack because I was so embarrassed to be an American living abroad in that moment. (a sentiment I still hold and likely will for a while).
- He’s an overt sexist + misogynist ( yes—they are different):
- (deep sigh) “Grab her by the P*ssy” is not a phrase I want to come out of the mouth of any man in my life; especially my president. It’s disgusting. It’s disrespectful. It’s anatomically impossible. It’s rapey. It’s lewd and it’s gross. [not to mention invasive, illegal, aggressive, absurd, and unnecessarily violent]. I’m not a victim of sexual assault, but I know plenty of women who are and it infuriates me that in the wake of Brock Turner, Bill Cosby, and the Federal Title IX investigation there wasn’t universal public condemnation for that kind of behavior. A presidential candidate bragged about 1) overtly disregarding his own marriage vows by pursuing a woman who is not his wife 2) bragged about how his notoriety bought him the luxury of being about to treat women as his sexual play-things.
- In a nation where women have been able to vote for less than 100 years, where we are still paid 77 cents on the dollar in comparison to our male counterparts, and where cases of assault generally require the victim to prove that the incident happened instead of pursuing the accused to prove it didn’t, what are we teaching our daughters? Your voice isn’t equal. Your work isn’t worth as much. And your recollection of events may not actually be what you thought it was. President of the United States is an honor and a privilege and to have a man in office who speaks so crass and dismissively to, and about women is damaging and speaks volumes about how America views its women. We should hold our leaders to a higher standard and rewarding his openly sexist behavior sends a message to the rest of the world.
- Racist: America is NOT good with race relations. There are plenty of examples of this nation subjugating groups of people on the basis of ethnicity [I’m not gonna bog you down with those]. Policies like affirmative action and movements like Black Lives Matter are direct responses to the experience of systematic racism in this country.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Affirmative Action, 14th Amendment, the Hart-Celler Act, and soooo many more are examples of Americans fighting against racism and prejudiced ideals. Anyone alive to see those policies get ratified don’t need a reminder of how far this country has attempted to come. Unfortunately, openly stating that Mexicans are rapists and criminals, and that there would be a sweeping ban on any Muslim person living outside of our nation stirred up a level of hate unseen by the millennial generation. The reality that I am not safe to live in or drive through large swaths of “the south” is a reality that I’ve accepted in 31 years, but not one that most people realized until this election and it’s most vocal participants started making declarations.
- Homophobic: Obergefell v. Hodges was a monumental step forward in American history. That’s the case that stated that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples in the United States. Dear Mr. President-elect: you know what would make American great again? EQUAL RIGHTS. Stop talking about your fabulous gay friends and support their right to have the same quality of life you do. While, I ABSOLUTELY respect a person’s religious beliefs about how God intended marriage, I wonder if that same “Christian” definition of marriage extends to the fact that our president-elect has been married 4 different times (never widowed) and fathered children with each wife. While marriage is something that A LOT of Americans don’t do well, my major concern stems from my fear that my LGBTQ+ friends might lose their basic rights to live openly without harassment, consequence or persecution for a lifestyle that is not reflective of the majority. Has anyone considered that the reason that old laws and norms aren’t LGBTQ+ inclusive isn’t an indicator of prejudice, but a lack of awareness in the broader community? It’s time for an update across the board: hospitals, schools, federal organizations, travel, medical, banks, insurance, adoption, fostering, etc. Civil Rights should have nothing to do with religion even though they intersect fairly often. In 50 years will people be shaking their heads about how ridiculous it seems that people used religion to deny the
- Xenophobic: [n: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries] Forgive me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the basis of America’s greatness the greatness of the immigrants who’ve come here and help to make us great? ( ie: Steve Jobs, John Muir, Joseph Pulitzer, Ang Lee, Albert Einstein, Bob Marley, Wolfgang Puck, Ted Koppel, Carolina Herrera, 1/4 of MLB, etc.) America’s history with immigrants stems all the way back to us stealing land from the people who were here before colonization began. Also, I won’t bore you with FACTS about how well walls have worked for countries in the past, but I will leave you with this piece from the NY Times that outlines a few instances of walls that have attempted to keep people out. Also, what does it say about us as a nation that we think we’ve reached capacity on brilliant ideas, innovative geniuses, societal overachievers, educational rock stars, and all around GREAT representatives of their respective nations? I want creative, generous, intelligent, beautiful, inclusive, competitive, brilliant, hard-working people filling our corporations, NGOs, universities, elementary schools, restaurants, ateliers, libraries, local governments, malls, clubs, spas, and everywhere else that needs them. And I don’t care where they come from so long as their interests serve the greater good.
- Birther: This is my weakest argument, but c’mon, man. Give it a rest… time to stop beating a dead horse. Conspiracy theories in regard to President Obama were nothing but diversion tactics that stirred up derision and allowed people a platform to spew hate unnecessarily. Surprisingly they also worked to eliminate Ted Cruz early in the GOP race for the presidential nomination. ( Link to his ACTUAL tweets in the word Birther above.)
I am not of this camp, but from the conversations I’ve had, this is what I’ve gleaned:
- He wants to clean political house. There are a lot of cronies in Washington getting complacent with their policies and no longer affecting change in ways that serve the people. They are getting rich and lazy and it’s time for new, fresh ideas to come in and shake up the political system.
- He’s of the “Family Values Party: He holds the same ideas that a large portion of Americans deem to be America’s founding or traditional principles. (Traditional marriage, Pro-Life, Second Amendment, Strong Military, Lower Taxes, etc)
- He tells it like it is: He isn’t caught up in the political machine, he’s from Wall Street not Pennsylvania Avenue. He doesn’t back down from an argument, so he portrays an air of strength that has been missing from politicians in the past. His honestly will be well received in the international community because he will be deemed as decisive and strong.
- He’s a successful Business man: He has a billion-dollar business empire that he built himself. He has divested his wealth into multiple successful avenues and would know how to fix America’s broken economy
[The hyperlinks for each of the above reasons are not articles to substantiate the points, but actually rebuttals]
After extensive searching, I wasn’t able to locate a similar editor’s note that was widely used to describe Hillary Clinton, but I did find an article that proposed one. So, I’m posting it below. There were a few additional news sources sited ( I did not vet them for legitimacy)
Editor’s note: Hillary Clinton regularly avoids the press, and is a serial liar, rampant flip-flopper, anti-gay, racist, conspiracy theorist, and potential criminal who has repeatedly refused to answer for her husband’s sexual assault allegations.
I read Trump’s plan for his first 100 Days in office (read it here). AMBITIOUS. Realistically, most of this will not happen in the first 100 days he’s president because well… Government LOVES red tape and checks and balances and kickbacks and looking out for number one. But, with a Republican House and a Republican senate, he may be able to accomplish some of the things (not likely in 100 days… but he’s got 4 years):
- Propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress
- lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
- cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
- Begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia
- Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Ac
- American Energy & Infrastructure Act
- School Choice And Education Opportunity Act
- Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Ac
- Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act
- End Illegal Immigration Act
This is his ideal first 100 days. In reality, he won’t even know where all of the bathrooms are in the White House after 100 days. As a person who did not VOTE for him, I will say this: Some of these ideas are kind of awesome. Anything that gets rid of common core, allows tax breaks for people who pay childcare, allows tax breaks for people who provide care/funding for ailing and aging parents, and relieves the tax burden on the middle class responsibly is alright by me. As long as the plan makes sense.
In the same political conversations with boda drivers, I would also have to explain how America could be a Christian nation and still legalize the right of people to marry whomever they choose. [sidebar: in 2014, Uganda passed a bill affectionately known as the “Kill the Gays bill” which made life sentences the norm for homosexual acts in this country] Treading lightly was the UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY when speaking about legislature that is very dear to me, but also not wanting to offend the culture or incite unnecessary violence or persecution. Some of the opinions I encountered were like the misinformed, hate-mongering, exclusionary words I’ve heard in the states…. but on steroids.No grace, no redemption, no desire for understanding, no belief that sometimes people like different things. It was kind of frightening to think that there was a time when the majority of people in American felt this way ( or at least didn’t oppose those who did).
How do we move forward:
Know your rights. I’m including links to information that (sadly) will be really helpful in the future:
- Hate Crimes Law:
- Educate yourself: KNOWLEDGE is POWER, my friends. Understand what it is you support and what it is that you believe. Talk to more people that don’t look or think like you. I believe the world takes all kinds of belief systems, but without exploring anything other than yours, how do you know If that is actually what you believe.
- SHOW your support:
- Now is the time to use that “I have a black friend/ girlfriend/ classmate argument that people in the throes of a race debate LOOOOVE to throw out. Leverage that relationship to have a REAL conversation. The bible tells us that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made ( Psalm 139:14) and that we are all image-bearers of the Lord (Genesis 1:27). ALL OF US. Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red, Tall, Short, Rich, Poor, Disabled, Freckles, Bald, Slender, and Robust… ALL IMAGE BEARERS of our Lord. Treat people that way. If God thought it was necessary to give each of us a unique look and story, don’t we owe it to ourselves to try to understand how that fits into God’s bigger story? Women and men are different. White and Black are different. Rich and Poor are different.That’s ok. Step away from the Left or from the Right and hear someone out.
- If you are in a position of excitement or hope for the upcoming 4 years, but you don’t share in the sentiment of the HATE messages that were the result of the campaign season, love on your friends who are not happy. Try to understand their personal fears, concerns, burdens, and sadness. [It may be a total bummer, but you’ll be better for it]. Not only will your perspective be expanded, but your relationships will be deepened and your empathy will be enlarged.
- This is so cliché, but: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. If you see hate speech being used, or ignorant (uninformed or malicious) ideas being perpetuated… nip that shit in the bud! You can stand by your principles and morals without letting others be trampled upon by bad ideology and the continued infringement of rights. Be an ally. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the sides of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
- Speak your truth
- Like I stated before, I KNOW not all of you are bigots, racists, xenophobes, isolationists, misogynists, or any of the other REALLY vile words that are being thrown around about republicans right now. What your minority friends (women, LGBTQ+, immigrant, disabled, non-white, illegal, etc) would like to hear is why you voted the way you voted. In all of my discussions with people of opposing views, I posit this: Give me 3 reasons why you voted for Trump (or republican) that had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton or the democratic platform. If you cast an opposition vote instead of a confirmation vote, it might be helpful for you to double-check what you just voted for. That way in future discussions you can speak to what you support. I will never tell you you’re wrong for believing something so long as it isn’t harmful to someone else.
- This is NOT a challenge, but a really constructive, healthy way to understand an opposing viewpoint. Instead of getting angry, name-calling, unfriending people or ending friendships, wouldn’t it be much better to open the lines of communication? You don’t have to agree to understand. BUT, without understanding someone’s position, you are relying on your perception of who they are based on who they support. Not cool. When you have this conversation, you realize there are A LOT of areas where you have similar viewpoints but different methods of coming to that decision. Those methods sometimes make all the difference.
I’m a TERRIBLE loser, but I’m a loyal patriot and I believe in America. I would be a liar if I said I was excited about the outcome of this election. I love Obama’s Hope + Change ideals because they represented (to me) a more inclusive America that wanted to be a contributor to the world landscape, wanted to bring military sons and daughters home from a war we didn’t ask to be in [not a dig on Bush, it’s a dig on people bombing our towers on 9/11… stow your pistols], and wanted to implement programs that helped the marginalized/ minority populations in our nation. Were the last 8 years perfect? No, obviously not (As evidenced here), but they energized a portion of the population to believe that change for everyone was possible and that they would not be ignored any longer. I’m happy to go a couple of verbal rounds with like-minded or other-minded people who have successfully made it to the end of this blog. We’re in this together people. Let’s ban together to support the good that serves humanity well and let’s protest the things that further divide us.
Parting thought for my millennials who are crestfallen at the result of this election. This is the electoral map of voters aged 18-25 from a survey conducted before the election:
The caveat on this map is that millennials OVERWHELMINGLY didn’t show up to the polls further perpetuating our stigma as lazy, uninformed, entitled, and selfish. 4 years is not a long time. Educate yourselves, join the conversation, cling to ‘Hope + Change’ and come out SWINGING in 2020. Kanye 2020, amiright?
Love + Light y’all,