It has been a rainy post-election day, causing additional clouds to accumulate in my head, which is never a good thing. I woke up after an all too short night’s sleep feeling like this nightmare should have ended, but it didn’t. It’s still here. It will be here for a while.
Our country has never been more divided and it is absolutely an issue of bigotry. After eight years of the first African American President of the United States, white people rose up in this country to “Make America Great Again.” What they meant was “Make America White Again.”
Guess what? America never was white. The natives who lived here first, who our European ancestors so unceremoniously murdered or rounded up and herded onto little tracts of land that we whites proudly called reservations, were not white. The African-Americans that our white European ancestors brought to their new world to do their dirty work were not white. The Mexican-Americans who settled vast parts of the Western United States before it even was the United States were not white.
But here we stand on the cusp of a new presidency as throngs of white Americans revel in the fact that their chosen one has openly condemned blacks and Latinos. He has condemned Muslims and Jews. He has condemned women.
And now we are being asked to heal. His supporters say, “He didn’t really mean it.” They tell us, “It was just campaign rhetoric.” They opine that “He really isn’t like that.” Okay then, tell me what he really is because that is exactly what he has shown us for many months now and it is the embodiment of the ugly American.
So you’re going to tell me now that you’re not a bigot and you still voted for him. You’re going to tell me that you voted for this demagogue because you are tired of government and sick of politicians and you think that being politically correct is wrong. You’re going to tell me that his opponent was not trustworthy, and you’re going to look me in the eye and tell me that you couldn’t stand her supposed lies even though you were completely unwilling to overlook his blatant lies. You so gamely bought into the decades of trash heaped upon her that you were seeking some alternative and you felt he was an unorthodox substitute.
But I am telling you that you chose brash. You chose hate speech. You chose vindictive. You chose bullying. You chose misogyny. You chose xenophobic. You chose civic illiteracy. You chose instability. And you chose racist. Even if you personally are not those things, that is still the person you chose to lead our country, and now you want the rest of us, the majority actually, since she won the popular vote but not the Electoral College vote, to drop all of our concerns and say that we’re happy to help heal this country.
I do want this country to heal and I want the division to stop. But I will never have a clear conscience when people of color, religious diversity, LGBT people, the disabled, environmentalists, scientists, and women are asked to take a back seat to bigots. We still have an obligation in this country to keep it a safe place to raise families and that includes stamping out schoolyard bullies, maintaining clean air and water, providing a safe and plentiful food supply, allowing people to worship in whatever way they choose, and protecting freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Stopping the division means that everyone has a place at the table, not relegating some to a different table.
You owe the rest of us an olive branch, a large one. What will this new leader do to prove that he wants our country to heal? From where I stand, civility has been dealt a crushing blow.
I will always respect the office of President of the United States. That does not mean I will always agree with the office-holder. It remains to be seen whether he can actually govern now. He will get a chance to try, and he will not have an obstructionist Congress in his way. My response to their behavior will depend entirely on what they choose to do with their newfound power. They can choose to bulldoze their opposition, or they can use it for the betterment and healing of a broken nation. We all await their decision. Either way, I can tell you for sure that the Democratic Party I have known all these years remains the party of progressives, not populists, and will still work hard to move our country forward, not backward.
I spent this gloomy day mired in depression. But it’s morphing now into righteous indignation. So I and at least 3-million like-minded women are putting the rest of you on notice now: we won’t sit still and we won’t shut up and we won’t look away when this government you have chosen for us denigrates vast numbers of proud American citizens. We also have a whole bunch of men on our side and quantities of young people. Look out. The pantsuits are still coming for you.