11.7.20 The Day America Exhaled
4 years ago, when I, my friends, and those I loved were devastated by the news that the awful, lying rapist, Donald Trump, had won the 2016 election, my little sister sent me this iconic gif. Today is a defeat for white nationalism, for nazism, for white supremacy. But this is hardly the end of the fight and the gif itself, however satisfying, is misleading.
It was not white people who helped rescue us from the brink of self-destruction via the racism, graft, and negligence, of the Trump Administration and his Republican Party accomplices, it was Black people, Indigenous people, People of Color; it was not the major Democratic Party apparatuses, but the on-the-ground grassroots movement of community organizers who helped overcome, in sheer numbers, the hurdles to voting access, the sabotage of the mail service, the baseless allegations of voter fraud, all used by the Republican Party to disenfranchise the very people most exploited by this nation. It certainly wasn't The Lincoln Project - the newest grift by Republicans trying to save their tattered credibilities and make a buck at the same time.
As of this writing, New York Times exit polls show that 57% of white voters in this election (total population that voted is roughly 145,000,000 people or a little less than half the total US population) voted for Donald Trump; of those who voted to continue this nightmare, 76% identified as white evangelical or white born-again Christian. 58% of white men voted for Donald Trump. 55% of white women voted for a man with over a dozen rape allegations to his name and whose confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett as a Supreme Court justice was in no small part motivated by the desire to take away the bodily autonomy of women. And it is still baffling to me that, as a sheer matter of survival instinct, ANYONE could vote for Donald Trump after the disastrous apathy and intentional neglect of his response to a deadly global pandemic that has left nearly 250,000 Americans dead. The power of the white supremacist resentment that he has so full-throatedly embodied (far surpassing even other pandemic-bumbling, race-baiting TV celebrities like Ronald Reagan) is so great that white men and women across the country are willing to to lay down their lives to keep a status quo that maintains the fiction of America's moral greatness even as we pamper the very richest, leave the poor and disabled to languish, and systemically oppress poor and non-white people through the echoing ramifications of redlining, a lack of social programs, underfunded schools, and endless murders by an over-militarized, inherently racist institution of policing. These voters, and the elected representatives that have pandered to Trump through these years are willing to sacrifice your life and mine for the fiction of white superiority. Such a calculation, such a decision, is truly repugnant. It will take a collective effort of historic proportions to even begin to change that, even as the state-by-state closeness of this election (Biden's national popular vote margin is even wider than Hillary's was) represented the historical efforts of organizers at the local and state-wide scale.
This is all to say that, while only a little less than 1/4 of the total population voted to keep the charlatan nazi we have had to call President in power, they represent the tantrum of white supremacy that has been baked into the foundation of this country, which we must still overcome: in our institutions, in our social circles, in our own mentalities. We white people need to take a hard look at our souls. Are our actions merely sustaining our own comfort - a comfort that has been designed through economic and urban planning to be far away from the suffering that, that comfort is predicated upon? Is there power we can give away freely? Are there resources we can direct to those who need them? Are there resources we can give to the community (Jeff Bezos's personal wealth sure suggests there is) through actually proportional taxation? Is niceness/pleasantness/politeness/professionalism being used as a cudgel to silence outcries against injustice and systemic oppression? Are we even thinking about the intersectional experiences, traumas, and injustices experienced by people other than ourselves in our decision-making on a personal level or on a political level? Are we allowing the comforts and safety of the revisionist history, the narratives, media, and stories we grew up with to inoculate us from our own terrible history? Are we intentionally avoiding knowledge in the fear that it will mean we must change?
On a more time-bound, immediate-actionable level, there are things we can do today, tomorrow, and up through the beginning of the Biden presidency (and the eviction of the tweeter-in-chief). One of the first things is trying to wrest control away of the Senate from Trump's greatest accomplice and arch-minion, Mitch McConnell. Both Senate seats for Georgia will be going up for a run-off that will take place in early January 2021. So, while, Biden has secured sufficient electoral votes to be President, The 2020 Election is not over. The next priority should be to eliminate the kind of obstruction that has led to the complete lack of any COVID-19 relief (Senate still had time to confirm an anti-LGBT, anti-women's rights SCOTUS nominee), as well as make it possible for a Biden presidency to function normally, something that Mitch McConnell is determined not to allow it to do, no matter the cost of human suffering. You can help now by donating to the organizations that have even made Georgia a possibility for Democratic election wins:
As a coda, I want to emphasize again that this is JUST the beginning. Ultimately, we cannot trust establishment Democrats like President-elect Joe Biden, like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Diane Feinstein, to have the actual interests and priorities of the majority of Americans at heart. There are Democrats and then there are actual Progressives who want to take necessary steps to revitalize the economy and create sustainable environmental practices, who believe that healthcare is a human right, who want to abolish and replace our current apparatus of policing that has destroyed so many Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives, who want to make actual change, rather than to simply sustain what has been "normal" for so many white privileged Americans, myself included. It must be clear, "normal" (for white people) is not acceptable. "Normal" is deplorable. We've got Joe to work with, now we must pursue Justice.
And one more thing. Donald Trump, you're fired.