(This was my essay right after the November 2016 US Presidential Elections)
What should have been a significant moment in America’s history turned out to be a nightmare coming to life.
We lost, and it hurts deeply.
It hurts to see a woman who has dedicated her career to public service lose to a person with a history of sexual assault, racial discrimination, and who revels in paranoia, hatred, and bigotry.
More so, it hurts that what could have been an easy victory was made impossible by the media’s false equivalencies and focus on non-issues. What about her emails? What’s the color of her pantsuit? Is her voice too shrill? What’s in her Wall St. speeches? Is she healthy enough? Why isn’t she trustworthy? But what the hell is in her emails?
Never mind that her opponent hasn’t paid any taxes for years or that he’s been sued for child rape. He’s operated a scam university, sued for racial discrimination, and filed for bankruptcy many times. Never mind those.
I guess the media has a collective distaste for strong women. This isn’t their first blunder though. Princess Diana dealt with a similar nuisance and suffered a more horrific outcome.
Seeing Hillary’s concession speech, it seemed that it was a turning point in her political career. Like many women, her best efforts weren’t enough. Reaching for that high glass ceiling is made twice as difficult when there’s a sexist, macho culture holding you back.
But it is her choice to make if she decides to leave politics. After everything that she’s done, she deserves a time for herself and her grandkids. It is not waving a white flag of surrender. It’s more of a giant middle finger to the idiots who voted against her who will have their healthcare coverage dismantled.
A role model to me and millions of people around the world, Hillary will go down in history as one of the strongest advocates of female equality. And I’m honored to have known her in my lifetime. To the legitimate 45th leader of the Free World, thank you very much.
I can understand why many non-Americans cannot relate to this election, and who probably think that whoever was elected would not affect their lives. Others who like to talk about international politics are even dismissed as elitists. But at a time when trade spans thousands of miles and crosses different borders, the political climate in one country adversely affects the others. Political decisions have to be made with full consideration of their global effects.
Lots of questions circled my head as I was grappling with Trump’s victory. How the hell did this happen? Why were all the polls wrong? What if he starts a nuclear war with North Korea? Who will protect America’s minorities? Will NATO break down? Generally, what will happen to the progressive movement?
I thought about all the wonderful people I’ve met online who benefited so much from the last 8 years. Gay marriage, abortion rights, equal pay for equal work, DACA, the Dreamer Act, literally all of those issues and thousands more, will turn rightwards. And with a majority in both chambers and the Supreme Court having three possible vacancies, America is about to enter an age of conservative realignment. No checks and balances.
Nothing. No one will be there to stop them.
What I expected to be an age of renewed New Deal fervor became a conservative curse. There will be four years of the most regressive conservative policies ever implemented since the New Deal. Abortion rights will be attacked. Don’t ask, Don’t tell will be reinstated. Trans-women will be arrested for using the female bathroom. Undocumented immigrants who were born in the US will be deported. Social security will be privatized and Obamacare will be thrown into the ash heap of history. Less regulations on carbon and more black people will be kept from the voting booths. Overnight, issues that took decades to win hung in the balance. On November 8, America spat on the graves of Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, JFK, LBJ, and Susan B. Anthony.
Wanton selfishness and utter cruelty are at the core of any conservative ideology, which is why I have a personal dislike for people who advocate for a free, unregulated market. Deep-down, this desire for economic freedom is driven by nothing but pure corporate greed, and a worldview that is detached from reality. Of course, there’s also the religious wackos and their sheer stupidity on every issue. Combine the two and you get the Republican party. They used to be a fringe party but now they’re infesting the entire planet starting with the most powerful countries.
Many more global issues are at stake in 2017 with the rise of the Neo-fascists. Will the Syrian War ever end with the dangerous alliance between Donald Trump, Putin, and Assad? Will the Baltic states be attacked by Russia over the next four years? Will Germany and France elect far-right leaders? Will NATO survive? Will Putin use Trump to rebuild the Soviet Union? Will Iran be a friend or foe ?
The current trend towards authoritarianism is alarming everyone, even survivors of the Holocaust and veterans from World War 2. This is unprecedented. The Western Alliance remains uncertain with the US being led by a Russian puppet. The West virtually relies on Angela Merkel now to make the most important decisions. She must take the most cautious approach with Trump, given his relations to Putin.
American liberals were caught off guard and Germany and France should learn from this huge mistake if they want to contain the spread of the hateful rhetoric of the far-right. No one deserves blame, save for the non-voters. This should have been our election. Our victory. They were divided, we weren’t. Their nominee was hated by many sane politicians, ours wasn’t. We focused on issues, they focused on the emails. Still, they managed to breach the blue, liberal firewall. It’s like that scene from Lord of the Rings. They thought the wall was safe but it broke down when the Orcs bombed the culvert underneath. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania weren’t supposed to turn red. Not by a mile. Not one poll ever said that. But they did.
It is up to the progressive movement now to quickly reorganize. Use that frustration towards building a forceful coalition. AFL-CIO must fight back union suppression by one of the most anti-worker president in US history, Planned Parenthood must push harder to protect women’s rights to make personal reproductive decisions, NAACP should challenge all forms of voter suppression in court and ACLU must protect the civil liberties of every minority who is discriminated by Trump and his supporters.
At this dark point of our history, the progressive movement has no other option. Either we blame one another or we fight back. Trump will never be a legitimate American president. Not now, not ever. The progressive movement has had many setbacks since the slave trade, but we fought back and won. Every chance he has of implementing his disastrous policies, Democrats must step in and obstruct. This is not someone to be taken lightly. This is a vengeful man who is already drunk with power.Democrats must bring back the 50-state strategy to get a veto-proof Senate supermajority in 2018, and nominate a more radical progressive for the presidency in 2020.
It is time to set aside our differences with the far-left. As Martin Niemoller poetically argued,
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The global progressive movement does not end with this painful defeat.
We will stand our ground and fight back.