Op Ed: We must come together
By BRADLEY VEERHOF
At the time of writing this piece, it would be one week since the announcement was made about the general election. I do not know how things look or will look, so I will only speak to what I’ve seen between Nov. 8 and today.
We began the evening expecting it to be an early night – Donald Trump would lose as he, his campaign, the RNC and pretty much everybody besides Michael Moore predicted. What happened instead was long, aggravating and increasingly stressful as swing states defied our expectations and our predictions began falling through.
Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight had given Clinton a 70 percent chance of victory, and was mocked for not giving her even better odds than that. But as the night wore on, we watched those odds rapidly fall as states did. That night was hard for a lot of us – we kept each others’ company. I texted a close friend a lot so I wouldn’t lose him. At around midnight, I turned off the television and we left.
Wednesday, otherwise known as Day One, was unreality. We were wrapped in a terrifying fog, tired from the night before but unable to sleep. It was cold, and people weren’t outside. We spoke in hushed voices, and stared at the ground. We stopped traveling across campus alone. A lot of people didn’t make it to class.
Across the country, marginalized people were attacked. Muslim women had their hijabs forcibly removed. Historically black churches were vandalized. Messages of hate – “Make America White Again” and swastikas – had been painted and homophobic rants scrawled on mailboxes. Gender and sexual minorities were targeted. Rainbow flags were burned. I could go on.
That night, thousands came out to protest in Washington D.C. and Richmond. I-95 was shut down. They started the hash tag, #NotMyPresident. People rose up in major cities, nationwide. They weren’t very organized – they couldn’t be. It was the first night, and they were pissed. More organized protests would happen the ensuing weekend, but so much of it had began that night. People began petitioning the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton – the winner of the popular vote. Some are moving to abolish the Electoral College, and two electors have already pledged not to vote for Donald.
The president-elect – as he immediately dubbed himself on twitter – is hard to believe. It will never be easy to believe, not in its entirety. Donald himself seems confused about what a president actually does. But I also mean this in the sense that more than 90 percent of his campaign statements were lies. In the next few weeks, media corporations might try to downplay his statements. He might try to take back a great deal of statements, to seem more presidential.
He might make even more ridiculous ones. What can’t be taken back are the very real hate crimes that occurred during his campaign, and after Nov. 8. The burning of a historically black church cannot be taken back. Deaths cannot be taken back. Sexual assault cannot be taken back.
Something else I believe will not be so easily taken back is the platform he accepted – including the torture of queer people, mass persecution of foreigners, institutionalized violence against minorities and women, and the curtailment of their rights. It will be incredibly hard to take back the neoconservatives and outright white supremacists he’s appointed as members of his cabinet. People who don’t believe in climate change, but somehow believe the color of one’s skin influences one’s intelligence. People who deny science, and reality.
As the media and elites continue to rationalize and make attempts at normalizing Donald, we may hear calls for “unity,” or “respect for the office.”
There is no common ground when somebody lies. I cannot unify with somebody who considers my sexuality a mental illness. We cannot unify with those who tweeted to abolish the 19th amendment, after certain demographic maps were released. We cannot unify with people who would deny jobs to queer people, healthcare to the disabled and any standard of living to the poor. And we cannot unify with those who enabled them.
We can unify with the disenfranchised working class – not only the mythical “working- class whites,” who made up a portion of the Republican Party’s base (along with far higher income whites), but the working class who was procedurally denied a voice in this election with work days so long they couldn’t register to vote, incomes so low they couldn’t afford to leave work on election day, and time so short they couldn’t learn about the election. People who were fed a false narrative by corporate media, then treated like idiots by one party and useful idiots by another.
People who voted third party– they did not cause the 9th. There is no evidence to support it. We can unify with the people who were intimidated at polls. We can unify with refugees, and with people facing racial and religious persecution. We can unify with the people who experienced violence from the police and reactionaries in our culture, and may expect a lot more in the near future.
And we must unify to stop the threat to civil rights and liberties, marginalized people, and the planet that intends to lead America.