These sorts of things tend to be relegated to Twitter threads. But Twitter (rightfully) doesn’t have an edit button and I have fat-ass thumbs. Also, I like to proofread a bit (believe it or not), so I want to take these thoughts here on one sheet of digital paper instead of the digital Post-It Notes of that platform.
Also, I appreciate that politics are an exhausting topic for many, so those who want to skip it can without being bombarded by posts on their feed. But for those who didn’t skip — for those who clicked the link — I feel like I can finally collect my thoughts on this past election.
As a means of dating this post, yesterday marked the defeat of Donald Trump as President of the United States by Joe Biden, the end of a long four years of grief, confusion, worry, stress, and out-and-out fear. And these feelings are coming from a straight-passing white dude; I can’t even begin to get close to the experiences of Black people, of people of color, of transgendered people, of women. But we, collectively, breathed a sigh of relief and held parties in the streets of the cities around this country while the world looked on and very likely wiped its collective brow.
Now that the dancing and partying is over, though, I can reflect on what has happened, and express what I want to see happen the next four years at least. And it starts with discussing the oft-raised point of working together with Trump supporters.
First off, it is absolutely feasible — the possibility of foolish hope that I have — that people finally got over the grift of Trump and voted with their conscience. For those people, some mending of bridges can and should happen.
But the onus is ultimately on them to reconcile. Not us.
These are folks who were angry that a Black guy tried to fix things for eight years and admittedly didn’t always do a graceful job of it. These are people who saw someone mocking the other, expressing and validating their hatred, and cheered. They rallied behind a man whose whole platform was to stop the Black guy’s moves and make liberals sad. And they would gleefully ignore the obviously fascist plays to see it done, ignoring the fact that what happens to the few often can bleed into the rest.
These are people who wanted horrible things done to people of color. Who wanted to see gay rights revoked. To uplift white supremacy. To erase transgender care from the record. This is hate, which is not a “toe-MAY-toe/toe-MAH-toe” difference of opinion. And while hate can be reversed through exposure and experience, that change comes by the efforts from those who foster hate, not their targets. The onus is on them to reconcile, to change, to forgive, to apologize. It is not the responsibility of the abused to coddle the abuser.
And some of that cannot be reversed no matter what.
So, to that point, I demand of this administration cleansing fire. I want to see the expulsion of hatred, of dangerous rhetoric, of literal denigration of American democratic institutions. In his speech last night, Biden said that it was time to lead with empathy and to heal “the soul of America,” but there are some things where healing means cauterizing, and Trump’s honest-to-goodness fascist Nazi maneuvering and those who helped that along must be out. We had a World War over this.
I demand of Democrats to stop being so fucking toothless. I’m not saying that they need to never work with Republicans — that’s not how this works — but I also don’t want mealy-mouthed, hand-on-the-clavicle operatic shock when things don’t happen or things can’t be changed. Act. Decisively. For fuck’s sake, act.
And, of course, I want to see all the things that were talked about on Biden’s platform — control of COVID, uplifting the actual middle class and the economy instead of conflating the stock market as fiscal progress, reversal of climate change, and a return to sane international relations.
I also recognize one guy and four years is not enough. Trump is not the source, but a symptom of the wider disease, an illness int his country that minorities have been made to suffer and have tried to tell us about and fight against for centuries. He is the manifestation of those who don’t want societal progress for all. And they carried Biden to the White House on the idea that he would work to correct that. And he had better.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that many changes won’t come in this term. But I can at least hope. A foolish hope.