Waking up this morning was easier than usual. When I can sleep, I’m usually a heavy sleeper.
The pageantry of last night’s election kept me in horrified suspense for hours. It left me exhausted long before I could tear myself away from my iPhone and television. I went to sleep knowing that Donald Trump would control the executive branch, have the full backing support of GOP majorities in the House and Senate, and likely nominate at least two Justices of the Supreme Court that will skew future legal decisions to the right for decades.
It felt like defeat, but there’s something else, it is tinged with bitterness. I am familiar with defeat, I come across it as an athlete on occasion. In the immediate aftermath, you blame the strategy used. Then. you see that the right people were not in the right positions. And finally, noticeable crucial mistakes are instantly realized.
This is what I watched all day. Of course Bernie Sanders should have been the candidate all along. How could we not see the internal DNC scandals coming back to bite them in the ass!? We should have known Hillary Clinton’s past misdeeds were going to undermine any trust she could build. It’s obvious that the crisis of leadership in the party extended far beyond the utter lack of competence and ethics personified by Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Yes, we’ve identified some of the problems. We know some people are going to get fired. After this, is there ever going to be a way to trust the decision making process in the DNC? I’m not sure.
There’s bitterness because a lot of Liberals feel like this election was taken from them. Bernie represented a set of policies that differed significantly from the traditional Democratic platform. He spoke out against interventionist foreign policy, acknowledged the increasing urgency regarding climate change, and sympathized with how hard it was to start a family and career while being saddled with student loan debt. He connected with his audiences in rural communities and big cities alike. Suddenly he was gone, disappeared from the spotlight, and left stumping for Senate candidates. It felt like a raw deal, but that’s how primaries work we were told. We sat and watched how the opposite happened among Republicans.
Except Donald Trump was tapping into the ugly, largely undiscussed racism and nativism present in American society. I’m certain the majority of Trump voters do not share these views, but it certainly influenced some voters. He rejected the traditional GOP platform in favor of an anti-establishment tone. Along the way, he advocated mistreating a lot of people. He told us he was going to build a wall, create a massive deportation force, repeal gay marriage laws, withdraw from NATO, scrap free trade agreements, deregulate industries, impose trade sanctions on China, restore law and order (whatever that means), jail his opponent (c’mon man, are we really going to be THAT country?), turn away refugees, and ban Muslims. He also told an unprecedented amount of lies.
This platform obviously resonated with enough people to see him elected president. In January, this new regime will be able to implement as much or as little of that as they deem fit. The burden rests with the GOP to prove that these are going to foster a better social, business, and diplomatic climate for everyone in America. The GOP can prove that they haven’t been swayed by the racist, nativist, misogynist rhetoric used by the Trump campaign. The GOP can prove that we won’t descend into the nightmare scenarios described so casually during this campaign.
It’s going to take some time to reconcile all of these impending changes with the views I hold as an American and a Pennsylvanian. Pennsylvania was founded upon the principles of religious freedom and prosperity, before we later came to adopt virtue, liberty, and independence. I live in a neighborhood and city enriched by the diversity of its citizens, where businesses mutually prosper. It saddens me to know that what I view and value as an asset to my community is demonized across the rest of my own state, even in the county where I was raised.
I understand how depending on experiences, people can find the government to be unsympathetic, inflexible, or even oppressive. I acknowledge that the amount of local, state, and federal laws and regulations facing businesses is enormous and difficult to understand. (My consulting services are available should you need assistance complying with relevant regulations. See I’m a capitalist after all.) The federal tax code is arcane. There are common issues that we can identify and work together on. Ending government mass surveillance, interventionist foreign policy, and eliminating innovation stifling patent laws, are all things I’m willing to work together on. The clock is ticking, you’ve got two years.
There are some reforms, I’m afraid we can’t budge or go back on. Women need to control their reproductive rights. America needs to continue to be a safe refuge for immigrants and refugees. We must continue nationwide marriage equality. We must continue to address the systemic biases against minorities.
To Republicans, congratulations. The system is at your disposal as the founders saw fit. You’re been presented our Republic intact, with a robust economy that may need a tune up. America is already the greatest nation on Earth. I expect it in the same condition when the pendulum swings back in 2-4 years.
To Democrats/Liberals/3rd Partiers, the first day to circulate nominating petitions in Pennsylvania is in January. That means the hard work starts now. If you feel angry or dismayed by these results, good. Remember this feeling and take action by becoming involved in your local political setting. Continue advocating for the changes you want to see to your representatives, regardless if they share a party affiliation with you.
Ignore the gloating. Be a voice for yourself and your neighbors. Continue lines of dialogue. Don’t let an election determine who you hate or love. Take note of the people with whom you share values and collaborate for better communities. Learn from this loss and return stronger and more organized.