I threw myself into bed a little after midnight last night, helped along by three stiff cocktails. It was a fitful sleep, broken up by texts and e-mail from friends home and abroad about the news that Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States.
It may help to know that I think people are basically good. I would rather one hundred guilty men go free than to punish one innocent. And I believe everyone should have an equal opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness no matter where they are born, the color of their skin, their gender or who they love.
Thus, some of the things Donald Trump has said, during this campaign and before, are abhorrent to me. There was no way I could support his bid to become President.
But, that is no longer a question. He will be the next President and so I want to focus on what that means.
Scott Adams, the guy who created Dilbert, predicted a Trump win late last summer. He also predicted the winning votes would come from people, mainly men, who would not publicly support Trump but would still vote for him. Both of those things came true.
He also said that most of the crazy things Trump did say were simply to get elected and that to the rest of us he was saying them with a nod and a wink. I really hope that comes true as well.
What I haven’t understood about modern politics is this kind of deep down, visceral hate one party holds for another. In looking back at eight years of Barack Obama he was probably the best President we’ve had during my lifetime, based solely on results. When he took office, the economy was in free fall, stock markets were low and unemployment was high. And he inherited the largest budget deficit in the history of the United States. Now the economy is stable, stock markets are at near record levels, and unemployment and the deficit are back to close to pre-crash levels.
So why do I see things like “Impeach Obama” bumper stickers and pictures of him with a target on his face? The only thing that fits is racism. While we have come a long way since the 1960s, racism is still around – it has just gone underground – and there are those that can’t stand to have an “uppity Negro” as the President. I’m certain part of that bled over into sexism against Hillary Clinton, and although she came with a lot of her own baggage, it was still disappointing to see T-shirts with “Trump that Bitch” and “Lock the Bitch Up”. Since when did the word “bitch” become acceptable political discourse?
Which brings me to our opportunity. Donald Trump will be the President and Commander-in-Chief. We must respect the rank, if not the man. Let’s do for Trump what others refused to do for Obama.
I remember someone once asking John Stewart about what he would do if he ever met then President George W. Bush, of whom he was quite often critical. Stewart replied that he would shake his hand and say “Nice to see you Mr. President, it is an honor to meet you”. I would probably say the same if I ever met Trump as President.
I seriously hope, and I write this without a trace of irony or sarcasm, that Donald Trump is the best President our country has ever seen. I want him to do such a great job that we will want to carve his face on Mount Rushmore. I’ve been to 36 other countries and can honestly say that I live in a very unique place on this planet and I don’t have plans to trade it for something else, and I want what is best for everyone in it no matter who is President.
I recently re-watched V for Vendetta which has the line “people should not be afraid of their government, government should be afraid of the people”. I hope this election has sent a wake up call to both the RNC and the DNC that they should be afraid, and that business as usual will not stand. We face some huge challenges, most of which can’t be expressed in a 140 characters, and it will take hard work to addresses them. But, as an upside, a lot of the social issues I care about are likely to solve themselves in 20 years no matter who runs the government just through changing demographics, and I have little fear of the US turning into the country in The Handmaid’s Tale.
And speaking of fear, don’t be afraid. Ever since 9/11 the message seems to have become “be afraid and buy stuff”. This to shall pass. I honestly don’t envy Donald Trump. Look at what the job did to Obama and he was over 20 years younger than Trump when he took office. Obama went in looking like Denzel Washington and came out looking like Fred Sanford.
Not being afraid of the future and wishing Trump the best are actually the easy parts. The biggest challenge for me involves, for lack of a better word, forgiving those people who voted for him. This is important to me, since people I like, people I care about and even people I love voted for Trump. It is hard for me to fathom why. I do think the truth is that we all want what we think is best for the country, we just strongly disagree on how to go about it. So I’m going to focus on the fact that we have that in common and build out from there.
The election is over, time to get to work, and remember: do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, for all the people you can.