I must admit, I’m still struggling with Tuesday’s election results. I have been in a haze as if I’m sleep walking through an episode of House of Cards.
Not since September 11, 2001, have I been impacted and devastated by an event. Especially the weeks after, as I along with my fellow New Yorkers tried reestablish normalcy of life, going back to work, eating out at restaurants, taking walks in the park, it all seemed surreal. As smoke from the Twin Towers filled the city for days and the ruins and debris remained in lower Manhattan, I knew with certainty that our lives would never be the same.
However, as tragic as 9/11 was, once the worst had passed, I was comforted by the knowledge that although we had faced one of the most horrific events of our lifetime, we, Americans, will move on and move forward together as a nation.
Sadly, Tuesday’s election was quite the contrary. Not only has this election been terribly divisive, but also it has made me aware that American is nation that is more divided than I thought and wanted to believe.
On Tuesday, the citizens of this nation elected a racist, sexist xenophobe as our President (#NotMyPresident). Donald Trump, a man who launched his campaign by disparaging the Muslim community, labeling them as terrorists and vowed to ban all Muslim migrants and refugees from entering the country.
Then, he went on to attack Hispanics and Latinos, the largest and the fastest growing ethnic minority group in the U.S., by classifying them as “murders and rapists” and stated that he will build a “big beautiful wall” to keep out (undocumented) migrants from Mexico and have the Mexican government pay for it.
As awful as the rhetoric was at the start of his campaign, as the election season went on, his toxic racism and discourse became even more horrific. He not only attacked and demeaned every minority group (ethnic or otherwise) in this country but also promoted an intense culture of fear and intolerance, which promoted aggression and violence against people who he and his supporters deemed were easy scapegoats.
Not surprisingly he was endorsed by the KKK, whom Trump never formally denounced, and by every ultra-right wing nationalist groups in America and in Europe.
As if all that wasn’t enough to eject him from the Presidential candidacy, Trump was a man who proudly declared that he can kiss and grab women anywhere he wanted because he was a celebrity, and therefore women (people) let him do whatever he wanted. And who can forget his infamous line, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters!”
Apparently, many Americans agreed.
What’s more devastating than the outcome of the election is that this vile, horrible human being has resonated with so many people in this country, and that fifth of the population voted for him. This is not the America, Americans I thought I knew.
As cynical as I thought I was about American politics or politics in general, I was shocked by the outcome of the election. Despite all the rhetoric about Donald Trump and the basket of deplorable who blindly support him, I was naïve and remained hopeful that when it came down to the wire, the American people would do the right thing and elect the sane and most qualified candidate over the xenophobic fascist.
I was wrong, and this election has made me question everything I thought I knew about this country and its people.
How can the American people vote for a hate-mongering, xenophobic racist who thinks he can do whatever he wants? How can his supporters think that this scoundrel, a faux-billionaire who hasn’t paid taxes in 20 years and a man who scammed thousands of people out of getting an education in order to better their lives (Trump University) and notoriously cheated his employees and contractors would save the economy or bring back jobs?
How can they vote for a man, who time and time again instigated violence against Afro-American who were peacefully protesting in his rallies, and when confronted by a journalist about the incidents, condoned the deplorable actions of his supporters by describing them as being “very passionate”.
Donald Trump is a vile and horrible human being. However, the outcome of Tuesday’s election wasn’t about his character or qualifications but about who we are as a nation.
Electing Trump as the President of the U.S. was the ultimate disregard for the people of color in this nation, the migrant communities, Muslim-Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, and Afro-Americans. We’re saying that we don’t care about racism. We don’t care that there are people who are being oppressed and bullied. We don’t care that people are dying in civil wars and at our borders. We don’t care that women, LGBT community and even veterans who fought for the values and principles that uphold this nation are being discriminated against and in some cases being assaulted.
I was well aware that I didn’t live in a perfect country or in a post-racial world that everyone so fervently claimed after President Obama was elected. However I’d hoped that with all the progress that his administration has worked so hard for and has made in the last eight years, we as a nation were moving toward the right direction.
However, after Tuesday’s election, my faith in this country has been profoundly shaken. It’s not something I will get over easily, and I question whether we, Americans can come together and move forward.