To My Family of Media Elite Liberal WASPs
The following is an email I wrote after the election last week to my wonderful, privileged, loving, sheltered, supportive, Upper West Side family of liberal journalists, editors, educators, NGO leaders and left-leaning public policy wonks.
My clan was spreading the word about the petition 2 million disappointed voters have now signed to demand electoral voters overturn the results by casting their votes for Hillary Clinton on December 19.
I’m not sure there’s much point to this.*
Is there a reasonable argument to be made about the usefulness of the Electoral College? Absolutely. Then again, that system exists in part to protect the voices of voters in smaller rural areas from being ignored and I’m not sure that’s an idea I want to do away with entirely.
As for post-election efforts to make Hillary president? No. Full stop. We don’t get to defy or deny a decisive, uncomplicated verdict from half our countrymen just because we don’t like it or them or weren’t prepared for it, despite everything we saw but didn’t want to acknowledge.
Am I scared? Of course. Am I depressed? Yes, still. My liberal idealism informs my feelings about who should be in the Oval Office and tells me I should be able to admire him or her. I have zero admiration for this president. But the one way of responding that has NOT crossed my mind is to cry foul. He is the president-elect, whether we like it or not. And to take action against this fact is to step square into a set of entirely expected shoes — as patronizing liberal elitists who “know best” despite not having genuinely or thoughtfully listened to those in disagreement.
Everyone has a hell of a lot of work to do in order to ensure that half the voting public is never again so easily dismissed. That their collective power and rage are never again so blithely denied by the political and cultural elite that we don’t work to address their own perfectly legitimate complaints, fears and feelings of betrayal when tending to the welfare of the entire nation.
People are angry and upset that THIS man in particular — this oblivious, egomaniacal, misogynistic, ostensibly racist man — is the president. I am as well. But he has merely a lease on power for four years, less so if he breaks his promises to the people who voted him in or screws up enough to get impeached. We can survive this.
He got here because we didn’t listen. He got here because we assumed everyone could afford to value decorum over dollars in their pockets. He got here because in embracing and encouraging our diversity, we demonized and declared extinct white voters, working class blacks, middle class moms, for whom diversity is just fine, but not as important as dinner on the table. We treated these people — our neighbors and friends — with condescension, with concern over their mental stability, with labels and assumptions.
We reap what we sow. And so now we must learn. We must adjust. We must not only complain but convene. We must look out for our neighbors when they are disappointed by the promises he will fail to keep out of impossibility or because it turns out he’s not a Republican at all. We must make our country a hostile environment to those Trump supporters who consider his win a license to harass women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ and immigrant communities.
We must also check ourselves. We must embrace realism and practicality. We must get the hell out of our comfort zones. We must demand more from ourselves, from our press, from our representatives and from this president. America has been through worse. We are designed to survive worse.
And so we will.
Off-the-Cuff Rambler Typing on iPhone Who Loves You All Very Much.
*A Washington Post piece outlined how little point there really is to this notion.