Kate and I have different political perspectives (I’m a former GOP Senate staffer, Kate went to Brown), but we both oppose Trump. We didn’t sleep well election night, despite repeated doses of Miller Lite and Alka-Seltzer Plus “Night” (which we nevertheless endorse).
We are worried, and we didn’t write this to reassure you that everything is going to be OK. Trump ran as a nativist authoritarian and a lot of our fellow Americans voted for him, either despite that or because of it. That is a big deal, and we think anyone who cares about democracy should be worried. By which we mean worried enough to fight to preserve the republic. We DON’T want you to be so worried that you sit around drowning your sorrows in Alka-Seltzer. Do as we say, not as we do, at least with respect to Alka-Seltzer.
So with that it mind, here are the things that are keeping us from losing hope.
As of the current count, Clinton got nearly a million more votes than Trump. That’s a lot more! If you shook hands with a million people, and you shook one hand every 5 seconds…well, I don’t feel like doing the math, but it would take a long time, and you would regret ever agreeing to help us demonstrate how many more people voted for Clinton than Trump.
We’re not saying Trump isn’t the legitimate winner. Instead, we’re saying there are a lot more Americans who voted against Trump than for him. To us, that knowledge is comforting. And relatedly, the bigots now crawling out from under their rocks to harass and attack minorities in the open are vastly outnumbered. We are not locked inside America with them—they are locked inside America with us.
Are polls 100% accurate and reliable? As it turns out, maybe not! But it’s still worth mentioning that exit polls indicate most Trump voters disagreed with mass deportation, and almost half of them objected to his treatment of women. Now, we object to the fact that only half of them did. But still: This shrinks further the odds that any given person you come across supports some of Trump’s more awful positions or actions.
We are still a nation of laws.
It sucks when I get a parking ticket, every damn month, because I forgot to move my car on street cleaning day. So, the rule of law isn’t always great. But on the other hand, it does seem like the authorities are taking action against the aforementioned bigots.
We shouldn’t have too much confidence in this. After all, the GOP is a 160-year-old democratic institution, and its resistance to Trump has taken the form of nominating him and then staffing his White House. So, we wouldn’t say the GOP’s resistance has been robust, exactly, unless Reince Priebus is a deep-cover mole working to take down Trumpism from the inside. In which case, it is really, really deep cover.
But we’re not Weimar Germany. Our democratic institutions have been around for a long time, and they’ve withstood a lot. If Trump follows the lead of someone like Putin, he will try to compromise them. Their relative strength doesn’t guarantee that he would fail, but I’d sure rather have the U.S. press, judiciary, military, etc defending the Constitution than, say, their post-Soviet Russian equivalents. (Now, I know what you’re saying: there’s no chance Trump would want to emulate someone like Putin. Does Trump even like Putin? It’s hard to tell!)
Exit polls suggest that if only people under 40 had voted, Clinton would have trounced Trump in both the popular vote and the electoral college. This is not a dig at people who are 40 and over! I am 40, and earlier today my daughter told me that my graying hair means I am probably going to die soon. On a vacation trip for my birthday, no less! But I digress.
“The past was better and purer and we can restore it by tearing down the present order” is a dangerous message that will always appeal to some people. It’s the message of Al Qaeda and ISIS, it was the message of the fascists in the early 20th Century, etc ad nauseam. But in America, in 2016, it didn’t appeal to most people, and it really didn’t appear to people under 40. Speaking of which…
Nothing lasts forever.
This is a downer when you’re thinking about things like “my car” or “the Earth” or “my personal existence on the Earth.” But on the bright side, it also means the Trump Administration will not last forever, and Trumpism will not last forever. There will be a post-Trump future.
This is America!
I loathe sports metaphors, but the other team just scored (ugh), they’ve got better field position (ugh), and they’re threatening to jail their political opponents. (That last one is not a sports metaphor, but for the record I would watch a sport that included players threatening to jail each other.) But the good news is that this is America! We are still great. We are still the land of the free and the home of the brave. And in a fight between democracy and authoritarianism, we have home field advantage.