Let me take a moment and recognize the full significance of the upcoming presidential election. A week from now, the course of the most powerful democracy will be headed in one of two very different directions. Either we will shatter the final glass ceiling, empowering women to a whole new level and begin to unleash the full potential of a modern liberal democratic society. Where fully half of our society finally gets recognized as fully equal to the other half, and finally be allowed to reach their full potential and become equal partners in solving the serious challenges ahead.
Or we will unleash the frustration and anger built up over the incredible level of wealth inequality over the last three decades. Those who watch their neighborhood disintegrate as middle class income stagnates, forced to compete with illegal immigrants for the three jobs they need to keep afloat. Who grow tired of hearing about the excesses of the country’s elites, like banking executives taking multimillion dollar bonuses after wrecking the lives of millions who’d lost their homes and savings in the last financial crisis. These people have been betrayed by their political representatives and they have every reason to want to send a message to Washington, DC.
Even if that message is essentially a gun to our collective heads, by putting the entire world at the mercy of a dangerously uninformed, sociopathic, narcissistic reality TV show host by giving him command of the most powerful military and access to the nuclear launch codes.
Do some men just want to watch the world burn? It sure looks that way sometimes.
What struck me is how the opponent for the first female nominee for the most powerful office in the world just happens to be this perfectly distilled example of male entitlement and unabashed misogyny in the ridiculous figure of Donald Trump. If I’d read about our current election in fiction, I’d laugh it off as highly contrived. And yet here we are, proving that reality can indeed be stranger than we can suppose.
Let’s not delude ourselves. At this point, the United States underpins the entire Western civilization and liberal democracy itself as a form of government. A Trump presidency would unleash destabilizing forces that could push the country toward serious civil unrest and potential dictatorship. If the US falls to a populist dictatorship, the rest of Western democracies will topple like dominos. If the very idea of self governance is discredited the same way Divine Right of Kings or Marxism were, democracy itself would be swept into the dustbin of history, along with any hope for a truly equitable and more perfect union for our future generations.
Whatever happens next, I am grateful for the opportunity this country provided for me. Where else can an Asian transgender woman be walking hand-in-hand with her Belarusian wife and their interracial baby in public, not merely tolerated, but welcomed and accepted as friends and colleagues? Where else can I work alongside some of the very best talents in the field, regardless of their cultural or racial background? I am grateful to be alive, and to be here in my adopted home, the birthplace and bedrock of liberal democracy, in a moment when we ask ourselves — who are we and who do we want to be? How deep and real is our commitment to gender equality, or will it be revealed as mere lip service? How much faith do we have in the very idea of self governance? Or will we throw our lot in with a self proclaimed savior and call it a day on the American Experiment?
One thing I do know is this — whatever voters choose next week, it will merely be the beginning of the next chapter. Trump has already said he will not automatically accept the result unless he wins. Even if he were to miraculously disappear, he’d already stoked up sentiments of being cheated by the system once more, which has to be accounted for one way or another. These people have genuine grievances that need to be addressed by the elites of this country who have been behaving recklessly and transparently self-serving for too long.
If Trump wins? Well, I am not going anywhere, for the fight for freedom begins and ends in the hearts and minds of everyone who is lucky enough to be alive at this turning point in history. Nearly half a century ago, in a shining moment, this country took a giant step forward for all mankind and landed on the Moon. The people whose teamwork made it all possible perfectly captured the essence of democracy in one sentence — it won’t fail because of me.
It won’t fail because of me! If enough of us commit to standing up for freedom and equal opportunity for all, then going to the Moon would just be the beginning of what we can achieve together.