How America Elected Trump and How We Move Forward.

Donald Trump will be President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump will be President of the United States of America.

I say it again, because it just doesn’t sound real.

This election’s campaign period went on for over a year. At first we laughed at Trump. Then we questioned whether it was all a ploy to get Hillary elected. Then, as he gained traction, we tried to comfort ourselves with the facts: “Three quarters of the electorate are minorities, women and millennials and Trump won’t win any of these groups.”

We looked at Trump, the unqualified bigot who spewed hate speech, promised to erect racially divisive walls, and bragged about committing sexual assault. Then we looked at Hillary, though imperfect, a candidate with experience, measured responses, and respect on an international scale.

What we didn’t do was take the time to really understand the USA. We believed American citizens would not, despite all of the horrible things that were said and done during the campaign, in the end, vote for a man so clearly unqualified for office, so divisive, and so hateful.

We thought that America, while of course still battling misogyny and racial prejudice, had become more accepting and tolerant over the years. We thought that the majority of Americans wanted to uphold the rule of law. We thought that as bad as things may seem, they couldn’t get worse.

We were wrong.

Millions of Americans showed us that they do not seek an equal and just society. Millions of Americans want traditional patriarchy and racial hierarchy. Millions of Americans care more about disrupting a flawed system rather than protecting LGBTI folk, religious minorities, people of colour, women, people with disabilities, and other oppressed groups.

Trump was elected on a platform of fear, anger and desperation. The white working class of America passionately voted to return to the wonders of yesteryear. They ran to the polls to make America great again because they yearn to relive what they believe was a better time.

Of the voter turnout, it is clear Trump was elected out of a society deeply rooted in sexism, classism, and racism. It was this intersectional bigotry that led white working class men to the polls.

It was the ‘endangered man’ who voted for Trump. The one who feels as though the power has slipped out of his hands; that the way of doing things, within a paradigm that always catered to him, is no longer how things are done. The monster that is political correctness, he believes, has seeped into the mainstream and has weakened society. For eight years he had to endure a black man telling him what to do, and the idea of taking orders from a woman for eight more years was all too much to handle.

male

It was the (predominantly white) working class individual that voted for Trump. Socioeconomic class was a bigger factor in this election than it has been for decades. The uprising of Trump hinged upon working class fears about immigration, economic security, and the cultural arrogance of the liberal population. 67% of white voters without a college degree voted for Trump. This was the working class’ way of giving the middle finger to the system and the paradigm that has not delivered to them their expected prosperity. Their anger about the current situation gave them the impetus to go vote and their anger toward a broken political system led them to vote for Trump.

white

It was the minority voter who was barred from voting. Some news outlets declared this election would see ‘the decline of the white voter’ and there would be a coalition of minorities, educated workers and millennials flocking to the polls. And while a diverse electorate may be the future (and was seen in Colorado), this was not the present. Rather, voting restrictions were placed on this election that had never been placed before, and this greatly hindered the ability of many people to vote, predominantly minorities, those who would have likely voted for Hillary.

It was the white woman that voted for Trump. Despite Trump’s explicit dehumanization and persecution of women, despite his derogatory remarks and his admittance of committing sexual assault, women voted for Trump. 53% of white women, the majority, voted for Trump. White women likely voted for Trump for the same reasons as white men: to keep the immigrants out. White (mainly Republican) women, staying true to their xenophobia, racism and hyper partisan politics, voted for Trump.

white-women

The people who voted for Trump, those who we may call foolish, ignorant or discriminatory, have real grievances. The middle class has fallen away; people have lost their homes, halved their incomes and lessened their lifespans. They are scared, exhausted, and resentful. Many of these voters were once Democrats but feel as though they have been betrayed. Their fury explains much of what happened last night.

Donald Trump will be President of the United States of America.

I say it again because it is still sinking in.

What we learned from last night is that being a racist, xenophobic, hate mongering, sexual predator is more acceptable in America than it is to be a woman. We legitimized sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, racism, and xenophobia on a national scale. We affirmed white people of their sense of entitlement and invincibility. Bigotry, though has always been present in America, is no longer lurking in the background or obscured by micro aggressions. It has been given legitimacy, and can go wherever it pleases.

Where do we go from here? Is America a failed state? How do we to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and try to find a way forward?

From the beginning, Trump looked like a perverse exaggeration of the radical right. That he won this election is a devastating heartbreak. This event will cast America into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet anticipate nor understand.

While it is instinctive to look for someone at whom to point our fingers, and while it is easy to blame white working class individuals for this crisis, that is not how we move forward.

So many of us awoke this morning devastated. Disbelief, despair, fear, heartbreak and bewilderment enveloped us. But the earth keeps on spinning. And though all we want to do is mourn what has happened, that is not an option. Because that earth, it keeps on spinning. It keeps on spinning and it stops for nothing.

So be upset. Be mad. Get some rest. Speak honestly. Be concerned. Hold your loved ones. Come together. Be empathetic. Muster up energy. Be resilient. Be unwavering. Understand those around you. Love.

Dedicate yourself to undoing racism, to pushing back against class divides, to fighting against sexism. Meet hate with love, fear with empathy, and division with unity.

The earth keeps on spinning, but we cannot let it spin out of control.

 

 

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One comment

  1. Thanks Paula for analyzing this terrible event. I agree, personal activism must continue.

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