The country woke up yesterday to a long election season that ended with Donald Trump as our president-elect. To many, his win is a triumph over a runaway country, a reviled political establishment, or both. To many others – to the plurality of voters nationwide, who voted for Hillary Clinton – it is a wrenching, unexpected reality. To yet others, it is the latest note of pain after a campaign seemingly designed to inflict it at every turn.
As a group, we are grappling with the same three words that virtually every news outlet and many citizens are: What comes next?
Most answers feel inadequate. Calling on Trump to reform his hateful style or retrograde substance – to abandon the combination of populism and aggression that got him this far – feels like an exercise in futility. Hoping a Republican House, Senate, Supreme Court and raft of statehouses and Governor’s mansions will serve as strict, principled checks and balances feels naïve. Abandoning ourselves to hopelessness goes against the motivation and resilience that have driven us to write, report, listen and invest in the fears and dreams of the people around us.
We are, to varying degrees and for various reasons, scared. We were and are scared for our classmates and family members. We are scared for people of color, LGBTQA+ friends, Muslim friends, women – people whose identities and wellbeing face existential threats in the words and actions of Trump and some of his supporters. We are angry and ashamed to live in a country where a man who takes glee in public displays of cruelty has ridden a wave of strong resentment to the presidency. We are reminded that virulent racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are winning plays in this country. Some form of them always has been.
While these ideologies were far from the only factor in Trump’s victory – nor necessarily beliefs explicitly held by all of his supporters – his rise is an unwelcome endorsement of them. The willingness of half of America to accommodate this hate has emboldened people to openly take pride in spreading hurt and bigotry. Already, social media is filling with stories of black and brown folks, Muslims and LGBTQA+ people who have experienced naked hate, justified with some form of “Trump has made this okay.” The bigotry and white supremacy have been here all along, but Trump’s victory is a tacit encouragement that, unchecked, will allow them to flourish. And we are scared by that.
We, too, are motivated to move beyond fear and hurt, though perhaps not today. We acknowledge we are hurting and in search of next steps. The place to start is in care for one another, and especially for the people who are most threatened by Trump. We hope that our readers who are hurt will, first and foremost, care for themselves as best they can. Shut down social and traditional media. Gather friends when needed and quiet space when desired. Sit. Acknowledge. Rest. Go through the routines of daily well-being – eat well, drink water, seek moments of lightness – and the rhythms of self-care. Ask for support and help if you desire it. We don’t pretend that care looks the same for everyone – do what you need to do.
Tomorrow, we urge those of you who are in a place to do so to look toward helping others. The day after that, we implore the people who are dissatisfied with that they see, who fear that years of progress may be undone and who will fight desperately to overcome marginalization, to begin to plan. There is work to be done. There are many, many conversations to be had.
Photo courtesy Jnn13, via Wikimedia Commons