I started writing this post months ago when the possibility of Donald Trump winning the Republican candidacy seemed like a sick joke, and the idea of him getting within a one-mile radius of the White House was even more absurd.
I started writing this post when my optimistic faith had me believing —perhaps naively— that my fellow countrymen would see through Trump’s lies and reject his outright racism and sexism in favor of a less repulsive Republican candidate or even better, a Democrat.
I started writing this post because I wanted to tell the world (or at least the small portion of the world that reads my blog) that my home country was not as vile and hate-filled as the average Trump rally or even press conference would have them believe.
But that was months ago.
Now, in the almost shell-shocked state of disbelief that I still find myself in, it is getting increasingly difficult to hold on to my bright-eyed optimism. The entire week following the election felt like a funeral. Everywhere I went there was a tangible sense of somber energy saturating the atmosphere. Family members texted me asking how I was doing and how I felt. Friends from overseas wrote me Facebook messages to literally send their condolences. And I cried.
I never thought a presidential election would make me cry, but this one did, and my tears had little to do with the candidates themselves. Sure, I’m a diehard Democrat who will always be disappointed anytime a Republican wins an election. And yes, I’m a staunch intersectional feminist who would have loved to see our first black president be followed by our first female president (I would have been mooooore than happy with our first Jewish president too). But my grief and mourning goes much deeper than being a “sore loser” or a “cry baby” as the Republicans would have you believe— the same Republicans, by the way, who protested Obama’s victory by burning effigies of him, held on to racist birtherism ideas and acted as obstructionists for the last eight years. Double standard much?
But I digress…
I am in mourning because the American education system failed this country. That is the only possible explanation as to why so many people did not have the critical thinking skills to see through the fake “news” articles floating around the internet along with Trump’s bullshit and empty promises.
I am in mourning because for most of this election cycle, the media did the American people a huge disservice by caring more about their ratings than actually reporting the facts. They gave Trump endless hours of coverage, treated his campaign as celebrity gossip for far too long and allowed him and his surrogates the opportunity to blatantly lie and twist the truth in ways that are equally scary and impressive until finally there were people who took their opinions as facts.
I am in mourning because there is a large portion of the U.S. that is either unemployed, underemployed, or unprepared for the changing economy. They were disillusioned and desperate for someone to give them hope even if that hope came wrapped in a hate-filled package. (Not that I pardon these people for excusing Trump’s inexcusable words and behaviors, but it puts things in perspective).
But above all, I am in mourning because this election is a reflection of the state of race relations and gender equality in this country. A candidate ran on a platform of straight racism and sexism, and a large portion of the country still bought into it and did so with enthusiasm.
And while things seem to be getting worse in this post-election daze with hate crimes on the rise and Trump’s 100 Day Plan and cabinet appointments ranging from questionable to outrageous, I can still keep the original title of this post and say without hesitation: Dear World, Donald Trump Does NOT Represent the U.S.A.
Yes, 62.2 million people voted for him. It’s a fact I’m still coming to terms with while keeping in mind that another 64.2 million voted for Hillary Clinton. So in a literal sense, he should not be representing the U.S. since he lost the popular vote (an issue for another day), but what I’m referring to is a little more figurative.
Donald Trump does not reflect the ideals that make the U.S. what it is at its core. They’re the ideals of freedom (as cheesy as that sounds), equality, progressivism, innovation, acceptance, caring for the community despite believing in individualism, and of course, good work ethic (I’d actually call us workaholics). With his racist, sexist and inflammatory speech, his complete disconnect from the average American experience and his backwards views on LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, Donald Trump simply DOES NOT represent the essence of the United States of America.
These ideals are ones that I will freely admit we have betrayed on more than one occasion in both the past and present, but they are still ideals that we overwhelmingly believe in and strive for. They are ideals that we have made incredible strides towards, especially during Obama’s presidency, despite the Republicans’ obstructionist ways. They are part of our national identity and our national consciousness.
Some people may have short memories or maybe they just like to cherry pick the parts of our history that are convenient for them, but the fact of the matter is that this country was built to what it is today by men AND women, all of whom (besides the Native Americans) were immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. And despite the beyond disappointing results of this election, I still believe that most Americans remember and respect that fact.
We do something here in the U.S. that doesn’t even cross the minds of most people around the world. We live in harmony with people of all races, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations, and more. We are one of the most diverse countries in the world if not the most diverse. There are people from every continent on the planet living in this country. Immigrants don’t only live here, but they also have the opportunity to thrive here. And we succeed at living in this diverse environment far more often than we fail. For every story I hear of acts of ignorance, prejudice and hate, there are stories of acts of love and kindness to show that love truly does trump hate.
Here’s how I see it…
At some point or another, we’ve all had that significant other, that frenemy or that coworker that knows how to push our buttons and bring out the absolute worst in us. They’re the people that bring out the ugly side we thought we had buried long ago. They’re what I call “button pushers,” and that is precisely what Trump is for the U.S. From his facial expressions and the circus-like Republican debates to the white nationalists, neo-nazis, and KKK clansmen who now use Trump as an excuse to be even more openly racist, the president-elect is seriously bringing out the ugliest of the ugly in this country.
But since I’m still an optimist at heart, and I’m still sticking to my guns when I say that Trump doesn’t represent the U.S., allow me to show you the bright side to all of this:
Eventually, you break up with that asshole significant other. Eventually, you distance yourself from that frenemy and find a way to avoid that coworker or just get a new job entirely. And when you do, you get back to a place where you can consistently be the best version of you. The version that you normally are when button pushers aren’t around. The version that you and your closest friends and family consider to be the “real you.”
And that is exactly what I expect for the U.S.: a few years of battling between the good, the bad and the ugly before returning to our normal state of goodness, and eventually, on to progression towards even better.
So for the family, friends and strangers from around the world who are feeling hesitant or even scared of visiting the U.S. because of our recent failure of an election, I urge you not to let the Orange Menace and his little minions deter you. This country is still filled with good people who believe in love and acceptance of those who are different than them. The protests in reaction to Trump’s win just prove that. And for those who aren’t on the love boat… Well, half the shit they want Trump to do is unconstitutional or impractical anyway so I’m not too worried about a lot of his most egregious proposals.
For most of Trump’s campaign, his slogan, “Make America Great Again,” elicited a very specific response from me: When did we stop being great? In my humble opinion, the U.S. has been a great country for many years now. An imperfect one, sure. I have a long list of grievances, believe me. But this country is still great. It has been great for many years, and it will be even greater in 2020 when we elect a different president… or sooner if we’re lucky.
A girl can dream right? 😉