Donald J. Trump is our president.
That is a sentence I never thought in my lifetime I would be writing, yet, here we are. A bloated, racist, sexist, bigoted lump of rancid suet wobbling inside a designer suit, one with the impulse control of a toddler on amphetamines denied his favorite ice cream, will soon take office as leader of the most powerful economic and military empire the world has ever seen, and people are asking me to write something to help process how we should feel about that.
I wish I had an answer.
I wish I had some hilariously new portmanteau of swear words at the ready to make you feel better about the cresting tidal wave of fascism sweeping through this nation, and more broadly, the world. I wish there were some way to make sense of a nonsensical event, one with lasting implications well beyond ours and our children’s lifetimes. I wish I could tell you that justice is eventually served, like some sort of cosmic scale regularly balancing itself out, but I can’t. Any student of history knows that’s not how things work.
The only justice we ever see is the justice we fight for, are willing to bleed and die for, and the troubling reality is that we lost that fight in the early morning hours of November 9th, when a flawed but experienced woman was forced to concede to a bitter and angry old man.
We lost that fight during the eighteen months of the election, when we succumbed to the golden mean fallacy, the idea that because there are two different positions, those positions must each inherently have virtue. When television networks and cable news shows decided that ratings were worth more than the fabric upon which society was built. When newspaper and magazine columns devoted gallon after gallon of ink to “playing devil’s advocate” or “looking at things from both sides.”
We lost that fight during the fifteen years of the War on Terror, when any act of violence involving a person with skin darker than porcelain was labeled a threat to our very freedoms and way of life, yet crimes committed by the alabaster chosen were described as the actions of “a lone wolf,” or “a troubled youth.” When we failed to name a thing for what it was — the radicalization of white Americans into a cult of nihilistic fascism. When we gave law enforcement license to shoot and stab and choke and bludgeon those they didn’t like, with almost no chance of repercussions or accountability, when the death toll of people of color and poor ran into the thousands and continues to this day.
We lost that fight during the thirty-six years since Ronald Reagan was elected president, when we failed to protect our education systems, and our public infrastructure. When we decided that being civil was more important than being sane, that the past was merely something that had happened once, a long time ago, and not something that we create every day by our action and inaction. When we poured money into guns and bombs and planes while bridges fell and water pipes corroded. When we gerrymandered districts into shapes out of a Picasso painting, and made voting inaccessible to those who needed it most.
We lost that fight during the seventy-one years since World War II ended, when we grew to believe that fascism was something one simply had to stamp out once, like cutting the head off a snake, instead of a constantly sprouting weed, that if left unattended, would soon expand and choke out all other life nearby. When a generation turned the horrors of a genocidal dictator into a meme, instead of a warning. When we told ourselves, “It can never happen here.”
I wish it hadn’t happened here, but it did.
What can we do? How do we process it? All I know how to do is continue to fight, battered as we are, and I have to fight, because the world is too interconnected now, the stakes too high to bow out.
I have to fight because a man who believes global warming is a foreign government planned hoax, is now in charge of a country with 95,000 miles of shoreline, and the ecological damage his policies will create is, quite literally, irreparable. The water will rise. It will not recede in our lifetimes, and the refugees will have to go somewhere.
I have to fight because a man accused of sexual assault by no less than thirteen women, someof them minors, is now in charge of appointing federal judges, prosecutors, the Attorney General, and at least one Supreme Court seat. He has pledged to alter the First Amendment, repeal women’s reproductive rights, and strip LBGTQ individuals of both dignity and protection, and his party controls both House and Senate. He has a blank check, and an even blanker moral compass.
I have to fight because our friends, loved ones, and neighbors alike are at risk of deportation or assault simply due to the color of their skin, the religion they believe in, the lack of religion they believe in, their gender identity, or their sexuality. The KKK marches openly in American streets, fevered crowds chant “kill her,” and all I can do is stand in the way and hope that we last long enough for sanity to return.
Above all, I have to fight, because if I don’t, there will be no reversal of fortune. There will be no magic solution that fixes everything. This is the slow decline of empire, a scenario played out countless times before, and if not opposed, its trajectory is relentless and inexorable, the heavy tread of boot heels stamping in perfect unison across the parade ground, all staring woodenly at a man in his seat of power, until the violence finally comes home to roost.
And it won’t be just any man. It will be a man who refused to release his taxes, refused to continue the tradition of transparency every other candidate (including Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney) agreed was necessary. It will be a man possibly beholden to any number of foreign powers or corporations in ways both economic and personal, susceptible to blackmail or political maneuvering. It will be a man who negotiates behind the tip of a spear, keeps a list of those who have wronged him, immediately lashes out in vicious spite when questioned or confused, and he will have ultimate control over America’s nuclear arsenal.
He will be a quintessentially American man, consumed with the self, terrified of the other, and that man will be our president.
That man is our president.
Donald J. Trump is the president of America, victorious in the greatest scam he’s ever pulled in an entire lifetime of consuming the poor and desperate, and I will oppose his particular breed of fascism with everything I possess. To do otherwise is to admit the dream of America is dead.
How you process this is up to you.