The 2016 presidential election has shaken me to my very core. To begin to express the magnitude of my personal grief, the last time I have felt an even remotely comparable range of shock reverberate throughout every fiber of my being was upon the discovery of my best friend’s homicide. The initial feeling was of utter denial. A complete inability to process the finality and reality of a horrific situation. Then followed a seemingly bottomless, gut-wrenching despair – sadness and grief. A heart so heavy and full of sorrow that it felt it could never be mended; returned to its original wholeness. This grief was soon transformed to anger – a fury so singular it could hope for nothing less than a complete karmic retribution for the cruelty and utter lack of empathy, humanity, and compassion of one senseless decision. Finally, the cycle resolved itself with an unwavering personal commitment to fight for a life filled with meaning, intention, and discovery.
Before I get into the basis of my disbelief, sorrow, anger (however you may wish to categorize the collective grief) over the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America, I feel obligated to explain how my personal belief system aligns with the current American political system. For starters, one of my favorite lines to explain away my experience growing up is “I had an unconventional childhood.” It has proved to be quite simply the easiest way to dismiss the reality of being the highly unlikely ‘successful’ offspring of a schizophrenic, absentee father and a borderline mother. I have no origin story for the basis of my political beliefs – none of the usual family gatherings to banter with a crotchety, old grandfather or much maligned uncle over politics. The primary focus of my childhood was survival; an acute awareness at an early age that the life I hoped to one day live was within my reach if I applied the dedication, focus, and hard-work necessary to achieve a future of my dreams. Granted, I was very fortunate in the genetic lottery to possess a baseline intelligence necessary to not only grasp this concept of upward mobility but to also excel in academia, this great country of mine is decidedly responsible for nearly all of the opportunities I have been granted. To not only have gained the financial stability to work myself into the top 20th percentile of median income in our nation before the age of 30, but to have also created a life filled with freedom, happiness, and most importantly, meaning is something in which I am in complete awe and gratitude of nearly every day. I am without a doubt obliged to equate the vast majority of my great fortune to the social mobility that is attainable in America.
I can distinctly recall that it was not until my early years of college that I began to form a unique political identity. Unsurprisingly, it was the issue of climate change that caused me to spurn the Republican Party at the age of nineteen. Upon learning that the Bush administration was intentionally working to undermine the majority view of climate scientists about the human-caused contribution to global warming, which was motivated by a murky, corrupt allegiance to the fossil fuel industry, I had no problem turning instead to the proud label of a progressive Democrat. While I was able to grasp the complex web of corruption that has led Republican Party officials to singularly deny the impacts of climate change, I have never been able to reconcile the motivation of a private citizen to do the same.
Since that single point of alignment on climate change, I found countless other issues and matters of public policy that I possess not only a progressive viewpoint but also am in agreement with the Democratic Party’s platform upon which Hillary Clinton ran this year. With respect to a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, banking regulations, universal, affordable healthcare as a basic human right, education reform, and the dire necessity to eradicate money from politics by striking down Citizen’s United, I could not be more in line with the party’s progressive principles. These are issues that matter deeply to me and which I constantly strive to stay refreshed and informed.
While the Republican Party platform is nearly a direct antithesis to each of these values, the horror and fear over the outcome of this election is not due to a mere disagreement of principles. Rather, this is a much different, frightening situation where we as a nation have elected to the highest office in the land, a man that is the single most unqualified candidate to ever run on a major party ballot. A man that through his very own words and actions earned himself the apt labels of misogynist, xenophobe, racist, narcissist, bully. These are not just angry labels generated by a grieving popular majority of this country but rather direct descriptors as they pertain to his unwanted sexual advances towards women, a public reference to a woman’s menstrual cycle, a call to ban Muslims from entering the country, followed by an ever so slightly toned down call for ‘extreme vetting of Muslim Americans,’ a blanketed label of Mexicans as rapists, a federal lawsuit filed by the Justice Department against him for housing discrimination against blacks, a spat with the family of a fallen war hero, mockery of a disabled reporter, and a Twitter feud with a former Miss Universe in which he called her “Miss Piggy” and labeled her as disgusting. This is just a short list supporting the complete lack of moral fiber of our newly-elected President. This election was not a vote for party or principles but rather a vote for decency.
It has never been more crucial for each one of us to dig deep and explore the core of our belief systems and values. What are the most important issues of our time to you as an individual? Where did those set of values originate and how will you articulate the way in which you voted or chose not participate in this past election with honesty and integrity?
To all of the right-wing, Trump sympathizers calling for an end to those hurtful labels directed towards them, I refuse to call a spade anything other than a spade. As an informed, thoughtful, and engaged participant of society that can clearly articulate my values, I have zero desire for persuasion from those that explicitly or implicitly brought this dangerous, delusional man into power. I would instead like to redirect the floodlights back onto you and demand an explanation for how your core values and moral compass could have ever condoned a vote against basic decency and human rights.
Oh, and to Trump and his supporters rallying to “Make America Great Again,” fuck you, Donald – America is already great.