To My Friends After Election Night, You Are Loved
It would be an understatement to say those of us in the arts world are still reeling from the election results last night. A day that started with so much optimism for the culmination of Hillary Clinton’s long, grueling and unprecedented journey to becoming the first female president, and the torchbearer for the future of Obama’s achievements, instead ended with the painful and uncertain reality of a Trump presidency. There’s no need to rehash right now all the reasons people shouldn’t have voted for Trump, and all the reasons he should’ve never been the nominee in the first place. He seems to legitimately pose a danger to the country in a way no other president ever has. But the saddest part of the evening for me was just how these results reflected a widespread validation of the exclusionary and toxic attitudes that have underpinned his entire campaign.
So with this post, what I really want to say is to tell my friends—my friends of color, my non-Christian friends, my LGBT friends, my female friends and anyone else from a community that Donald Trump has openly stood against during this election—you are loved. I love you, and you are wonderful, invaluable and irreplaceable creatures of this earth whose experiences matter as much as anyone else’s. I am so, so sorry you do not live in a country where everyone understands the depth of your worth, but America is a stronger place because of every single one of you. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for being here. You are loved.
I also have a few other quick thoughts on this election outcome, intended more as a reflection for myself but that will perhaps offer some hope on an otherwise dismal day:
-This was a reactionary vote, which means Obama’s presidency did make a difference. Something has to have happened for there to be a reaction to it, and so much has happened through Obama’s administration. Yes, some of the accomplishments can be undone by a Trump presidency, but not all of them. I think history ultimately bends toward justice, even if it takes a long time to get there. And I think history will be on Obama’s side.
-As Hillary said, it was worth it. Everything she did over the past year and a half on the campaign trail to shape our conversation on liberal policies and be the inclusive, welcoming foil to Trump’s politics of exclusion were worth it. Inspiration is difficult to quantify, but she inspired me, as she did millions of others. By combining some of Sanders’s particularly far left views with her more cautious but comprehensive knack for policy, she created a uniquely progressive platform while breaking at least one glass ceiling by becoming the first female major party nominee for president. Her story in this election is ultimately a sad one—it’s hard to frame this as a completely inspiring narrative when all her honest hard work didn’t pay off (an experience many women are familiar with in competing for jobs against less experienced men). But, as with Obama, I think history will be good to her in the long run. She, and Obama, are also not completely falling off the planet, so I can still look forward to their future service to our country, even if they won’t be in the Oval Office.
-America didn’t change overnight. It was already a place bitter enough for Trump’s bigotry, gullible enough for his dishonesty and/or desperate enough for his utter disregard for substantive policy. We’ve been living in this America for a while, and so far we’ve made it through. We don’t know what the future holds, but I hope, once he takes office, people realize he cannot offer them a fraction of what he promised, and Trumpism is revealed as the sham that it is. Perhaps, to kill the alt-right, it has to fail publicly, so it can no longer loom as a specter of possibility. So people can learn there is no “great” America to go back to, and the only one worth pursuing is the America that lies ahead.
-This is what the electoral map would’ve looked like if only 18-25 year-olds voted. How often was it said that Hillary had a problem with Millennials? Our youngest voters rejected Trumpism overwhelmingly. The future, at least the distant one, is bright.
I realize these points are easy for me to make. As a straight white man, Trump’s America is one that does not immediately threaten my well-being, and I can endure a few years of him while I wait for the return of someone truly fit for our nation’s highest office. I do not wish to sugarcoat things—yesterday’s outcome could be devastating for the country. I cannot comprehend what you must be going through right now, and I do not know exactly what we do next. But I do know that it is because of outstanding people like you that things will, someday, be better. I am blessed to have you in my life during this uncertain time, and please let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you as we go through the challenges ahead. You are wonderful. Completely and utterly. And don’t let anyone in a red hat tell you otherwise.