There’s really no good way to put it: what happened last week is a disaster of staggering proportions. History, along with the rest of the world, was watching, and we shamed ourselves. Given the stunned silence that seems to have settled in like a heavy fog, it’s fair to say that not many people saw this coming. That includes me, of course; I have no idea how I got it so very wrong.
It will take some time to assess the losses, and to get the full measure of the future that awaits us. This much seems clear: the unraveling of everything we managed to accomplish over the last eight years begins on the morning of November 9. I feel so sorry for President Obama and his family, truly good people who have now been poked in the eye for their dedication and hard work. Along with Hillary Clinton and the rest of us, they certainly deserve much better.
The GOP will retain the House in 2018, and may even pick up a few more Senate seats. I don’t know what a 2020 presidential race looks like, and I don’t really want to think about it. The Supreme Court will swing hard right, making the last two or three decades look like a progressive utopia. Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kennedy all get replaced with Scalia-esque votes that will be on the Court for 20 to 30 years.
With the GOP in control of all the levers of national government, voting rights will be a wistful dream. Gerrymandered states and congressional districts will be hard-wired for the next fifteen or more years. Many of the political or social norms we took for granted are, sadly, up for grabs. In short: the problems we’ve managed to create for ourselves, and for the rest of the world, will not be solved in what’s left of my lifetime.
The post mortem on this thing will take some time. Pundits, experts, academics, and others will pick at the rotting carcass of this election for weeks, months, and years, trying to figure out what might have happened if, or who did what wrong, or how we could have been blindsided this way. And frankly, I have no interest in any of it anymore. Absolutely none. I’m far too worried about the future to be concerned with or interested in the past. And there is much to worry about in a Trump/GOP-controlled future.
I worry for my gay and lesbian friends, who just recently began to enjoy some of the markers of social equality, like the right to marry and raise a family.
I worry for people with health problems who relied upon the fragile support structure offered by Obamacare to keep themselves alive and in reasonable health.
I worry for those with dark skin and ethnic features, who even in the best of times have had to daily endure living under the ever-present threat of racism and bigotry.
I worry for everyone with disabilities, physical and emotional, who all too often find themselves excluded from full participation in our nation’s economic and social lives.
I worry for the women who must face the awful choice whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy, whose lives and livelihoods depend on being able to make that choice legally, with the aid and counsel of trained medical professionals.
I worry for the women and girls who have just been told, in no uncertain terms, that they are objects and things, not fully-fledged persons imbued with the same worth or agency as their male counterparts.
I worry for those who are retired or who are approaching retirement, depending on the stability of financial markets and the continued viability of our meager-but-promised retirement guarantees.
I worry about my friends who are poor or of limited means, who do their best to eke out an existence on what was already a sub-living minimum wage, supported by an inadequate social safety net.
I worry about people who have come here from other countries, bringing with them their faith and their traditions, who will now find themselves subjected to heightened and unwelcome scrutiny and surveillance, both official and unofficial, if they’re allowed to remain here at all.
I could go on and on. This is just a partial list of the people whose lives, up until yesterday, seemed to enjoy a brief glimmer of hope for a better future. More than anything else, that’s what a Trump/GOP-controlled polity will really destroy: hope. And I can tell you, without hesitation, that the loss of hope is devastating. For many people, it is a loss from which they will never recover.
Mine is the first generation that will have left this country, and many of its people, worse off than when we inherited it. We have managed, somehow, to repudiate the diversity, the traditions, the kindness and – most of all, the goodness – that already made this country great. For that, I’m truly sorry. I know that doesn’t make it any better.
One last thing. If you supported Trump or the GOP and you’re inclined to take a victory lap or two, go right ahead. You were right and the rest of us were wrong. Enjoy the spoils of your triumph. But heed a word of caution, too: don’t think you’re safe from Trump. He’ll feed on you just as he will on the rest of us. It’s what he does, because for him, it isn’t about you, or the country, or the world. It’s all about him. Period. That snake will bite you, because he’s a snake, and that’s what snakes do.