60MM Americans punched my kids in the face.
“I get knocked down, but I get up again…” — Chumbawumba
Like many observers, I was pretty stunned at Donald Trump’s win last night. I liken what happened to having 60 million people line up to punch me, my wife, my children, and humanity, in the face. One after the other.
Many people, some of whom I thought of as friends and acquaintances, did this. And to a man and woman, the explanations I hear this morning start with “I’m not a <racist/misogynist/…>, but…” — and that’s right up there with “I don’t want to be rude or offend you, but…”
The “buts” that are offered up have been fascinating too.
- “but, we needed to stand up and protect our Christian values”
- “but, we have to protect our guns and make sure the 2nd amendment isn’t violated”
- “but, we have to protect the sanctity of the Supreme Court”
- “but, we can’t take the risk of more terrorism”
- “but, people are losing their jobs because of immigration”
For all those who are thinking that way, here’s the thing. With your vote, and even more so with the way you’ve rationalized it, you’ve chosen to assert that humanity is less important to you than, say, your guns. To those who know me personally, I feel as if you’ve stood in front of my family and punched each one of us, including my young children, squarely in the face. And then justified by saying, “but, we needed to stand up and protect our Christian values.” That’s how I see you right now — and that’s painful, because you are people I respected regardless of our political agreements or differences. How would you want me to react to your punching my children in the face, I wonder?
See, this was not about politics today. This was about the world we live in — a global, inclusive, village. I’m a third-culture-kid (TCK). I’m ethnically Indian, born in Singapore, grew up in Hong Kong, lived in America longer than anywhere else, culturally British, and married to an Australian. My home is anywhere in this world, genuinely. And the people of America have spoken and said that’s not a world vision they believe in.
I recognize the problems that drove us here. I wrote about them in an earlier post. People are struggling because of how our global economy has evolved. People are getting left out, and left behind. The factory jobs aren’t coming back. In fact, even more jobs are going away in the next 5–10 years, and at a faster rate than ever before. Those of us on the coasts who don’t fully comprehend this, even though we’re aware — look out, because it’s going to hit closer to home soon.
We should be talking about how we facilitate, how we retrain people, how we educate, how we set people up to acquire the skills they will need in the future. (Suggestion: if you’re a long distance truck driver, start figuring out your next career NOW.)
Instead, the Trump campaign gave us a scapegoat and allowed us to play victim. The problem is “other people.” It’s not something we control. Someone else, from a foreign land, determined our fate, either by immigrating here and stealing our jobs, or by trading with us to our detriment.
Immigrants — bad. Foreign countries — bad. And whether or not you think of yourself as a bigot, racist, insular xenophobe, misogynist, or anything else, if you voted for that platform, you cannot simply absolve yourself of association with it. You actively chose not to draw the line here. Unfortunately, as history has taught us several times, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.
So with all that, what’s done is done. On the sports field, my favourite exhortation is “Focus Forward!” and that’s exactly what we need to do. The world hasn’t ended — and for those who may fear the worst, that just means it’s even more important to step up and make a difference.
We’ve had a virtual dictatorship at the top of American government many times before. But this time it’s been created on a platform that leveraged hate and fear, and the person at the top has given the impression that he can’t handle any sort of dissension. Think about other leaders who don’t handle dissension well.
There’s a couple of ways this could play out now (yes, I’m painting broad strokes to make the point).
Perhaps Donald Trump has played us all. He’s not who we think he is, and simply did what it took to get elected. He’s not going to build a wall, he’s not going to stop supporting refugees, he’s not going to single out people for their religion, he’s not going to stop the H-1B visa program, he’s not going to curtail international trade, and he’s maybe even going to stun us all and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. This is plausible, because let’s face it, we know that Donald Trump doesn’t do pandering to other people. If this plays out, it will be fascinating to see what happens when the promised solutions to all that ails us don’t fall into place.
Or perhaps he’s going to follow through on much of this, and even “lock her up” (I don’t see that one happening to be honest). If he does, and if Congress supports him in going down that road — then the world is going to change substantially. Japan tried the insularity thing — I love the country, but you probably wouldn’t consider them a world leader today.
But it’s not the economy I fear for at all. It’s society I fear for. I heard this morning from a friend back East whose child was repeatedly told at school today that “your father is going to be deported because he’s not an American.” When 8-year olds are spewing that sort of hatred, it’s because they’re learning it from the adults in their lives and on television. That’s the real danger we face. Incidentally, and hilariously, the father alluded to is American by birth, despite having grown up overseas.
Clinton and Obama both gave really pointed speeches this morning. They focused in hard on human values, and how important they are. Bang on point.
It’s time for all of us to stand up once more. Don’t leave the country. Don’t surrender to the fear and hatred. Making America Great Again doesn’t start at the top. It starts at the bottom. With every single one of us exemplifying and standing up for the kind of society we want to live in.
Stand up for humanity. Please.