Common Ground2016-11-12

On November 8th, 2016, the United States elected Donald Trump as their 45th president, defeating Hillary Clinton.

In the aftermath, progressives such as myself are being told that this outcome is our fault: we called conservatives racists, bigots, etc. And that the only path forward is to now find common ground with conservatives.

I cannot possibly object more vehemently to this.

Social Justice Warriors

There is a serious problem right now on college campuses. There is a growing regressive left that seeks to quell all speech and discourse they disapprove of. This often results in shouting down dialogue, discussion, and even comedy is now off-limits.

Being 33, I grew up during the moral panic around violent video games. You know, games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. I grew up with the over-zealous FCC looking to scrub the airwaves of any kind of profanity or nudity.

I objected to this, and fought against this. I grew a deep appreciation of the first amendment right to freedom of speech.

The social justice movement is moving us from classic liberalism to just another form of authoritarianism: seeking to control what people can and can't say.

It is truly dangerous and I am very much opposed to this.

Bubbles

There is definitely a real danger in bubbles. The left foolishly thought they had this election in the bag. This is because they formed circles on social media and only followed the people that agreed with them. Any dissenters were immediately blocked. So of course, to them, it seemed like a mandate that Clinton would win the election.

Bubbles are indeed dangerous. We need to have real discussions with people we disagree with, if we ever hope to find common ground and unite as a people.

There are legitimate grievances on both sides. I am more than willing to engage in a discussion around inheritance tax, healthcare reform, social welfare, drug laws, the size of the military, the size of government, and even heavy-hitting issues like abortion. I understand that someone can disagree with me on these topics and not be wrong, and still have valid grievances.

Trump

But then there's Donald Trump. A candidate that ran his campaign on racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, lies and hatred. A candidate who sought to divide our nation in order to assure his victory.

We now have a president-elect who openly mocked the handicapped, who called Mexicans criminals and rapists, who called for jailing his political opponent, who encouraged another nation to hack and undermine our fair election process, who fat-shamed a female beauty contestant, who bragged about walking in on women in locker rooms, who boasted about how he could "grab women by the pussy" just because he was famous, who has stated that he would nominate Supreme Court justices to reverse marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, who has promised to rescind all protections for transgender individuals — such as the right to use the bathroom that matches their gender, a man who has defrauded his own charity, who wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country, and to create a registry for them. A candidate who has declared the greatest threat to the survival of our species — global warming — to be a Chinese hoax. Someone who chose Mike Pence as his running mate — a man who believes in using electro-shock therapy to "turn gay kids straight", and who passed a Jim Crow-era law to allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to gays and lesbians. A religious nut one step away from being a flat earther. A man who refused to accept the results of the election — if he lost, that is ... and claimed the election was rigged against him. A man who wants to allow the further proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This candidate is unlike any other candidate that has run in my entire lifetime. He is irredeemably deplorable. Which is perhaps why Ku Klux Klan has endorsed him and held celebrations upon his victory.

Clinton

Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. She colluded with the DNC to steal the primary from Bernie Sanders, which certainly cost us the election. She is a typical career politician, traveling around the country and giving $200,000 speeches to Wall Street executives. Talking about how she has two faces, one for the general public, another for the business elite.

She is not a progressive. She would easily be considered a conservative in the '80s before the Republican party went batshit insane. Today, compared to the rest of the world, she is a center right candidate. She has been late on every socially progressive issue. Only coming around on marriage equality in 2013, after more than half the country approved of them, and the vast majority of her own party.

I do not like Clinton. I did not want another family dynasty in the White House.

But she did at least spend her life working to help the poor and minorities to better their lives. Their charitable foundation has done a lot of good in the world.

Yet with all of her flaws — private e-mail server included — she was still the lesser of two evils by an enormous margin in this election.

Promises

Trump also went around promising impossible things. Like bringing back manufacturing jobs that have been lost to foreign labor — even though those jobs have already come back to the country, but are now automated. Or promising to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada.

Obvious lies, many that he has already back-tracked on not 48 hours from his winning the election (well, the electoral college anyway.)

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence could tell these were obvious lies: things the president cannot do, things he wouldn't even actually want to do, things congress would never go for, even with a super-majority in both the House and the Senate. These were just your typical campaign promises that mean nothing.

We saw Obama continue domestic spying programs, bank bailouts, foreign wars, prosecution of whistle-blowers, early raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, you name it. His promise to close Guantanamo Bay never happened. You can blame some of this on congress, sure. But the Democrats held a super-majority for the first two years, and many of these things were within his purview as president.

But I get it. Few Americans have even a cursory understanding of civics. All politicians are the same: they have to lie to get elected. Even Bernie Sanders wasn't going to deliver on much of what he promised. Single payer healthcare? Free college tuition? Great ideas, but in this country? Keep dreaming. At least by electing him we could have slowly moved toward those things, and gotten discussion of them into the public discourse.

Deplorables

But ultimately, it just doesn't matter.

Even if Trump voters were stupid enough to believe his obviously false promises of being a populist candidate, even if Clinton helped rig the primaries and was quite possibly the worst candidate our party has ever run, that doesn't excuse a vote for Trump.

Yes, there are situations where you can agree with a candidate on some issues, but not on other issues, and still ultimately vote for them.

But voting for the most divisive candidate in my lifetime meant legitimizing the most divisive rhetoric I have ever heard. It has literally struck deep fear into the hearts of minorities, immigrants, and the LGBT community.

Half of America has just sent a message that they aren't wanted.

Unity?

And now, after the most hateful, divisive election ever seen, the right is calling for the nation to come together. Calling on the left to come on board.

And on the left... the white, heterosexual males in the media, who have no rights on the line, are calling for the same.

Integrity

... are you fucking kidding me?

Would you implore African Americans to find common ground with the Ku Klux Klan? Jewish Americans to sit down and have a conversation with the Neo-Nazis?

Trump's message was that we are sub-human and not deserving of the same rights he enjoys. He wants to dissolve my marriage to the person I love. Comparing my love for my husband to a fucking golf-club. This son of a bitch who mail-ordered his third fucking bride from Slovenia wants to tell me about what kind of marriage is natural?!

I'm sorry, but I cannot find common ground with that. You're asking the victims to make peace with their assaulters — who still want to assault them!!

Fuck that. It's true, this nation is fracturing at its core. We just had an election between a corporatist and a fascist... and the fascist won.

Fuck Godwin's Law. Trump's divisive rhetoric directly hearkens back to that of Adolf Hitler. That was only seventy years ago. Nationalism is sweeping the world right now, with Brexit in the UK, Le Pen in France, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, and so on.

Make no mistake, we are on a collision course for a civil war. Not in a year, not in a decade, but inevitably in the future ... perhaps 30-60 years from now. As Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement and climate change spirals out of control, as the coastal regions of the United States end up underwater, as the income inequality gap spirals out of control (something Clinton would have allowed to continue as well ... only not as quickly), as food shortages crop up, as the racists, bigots and xenophobes are put under increasing pressure as whites decrease in their percentage of the US population ... things are going to come to a breaking point in this country. If that happens in my lifetime, I know which side I'll be on.

But for today? Right now? I'm sorry, but I refuse to reach out to anyone who voted for Trump. If you voted for him, you voted to strip me of my marriage rights. You voted to strip the protections away from my many transgender friends. You voted for deporting amazing people in this nation of immigrants.

I am sorry, but if you voted for Trump, I cannot forgive you for that. You have crossed a fundamental line of human decency with me.

It is with incredible pain that I am going to have to say goodbye to friends I have held for as many as fifteen years.

I understand your concerns, I understand the bubble risks on my side. But I cannot in good conscience accept anyone that would support Trump.

This election has broken my heart. I am deeply ashamed, and terrified, that I share a country with so many people I share nothing with. I am truly fearful for the future. Not just because of Trump alone. But because of his Supreme Court nominations that will destroy the last shred of social progress in the courts for the rest of my life, and will continue a slow march at rolling back all of our hard-fought progress. Because of his nutjob VP pick that is a 70-year old's heartbeat away from the presidency. I am terrified for all of my friends, for the hatred they are going to face now that Trump has normalized and shown them that half this country feels this way about them. Now that his base is galvanized after being legitimized on the national scale. We're already hearing about Trump supporters verbally assaulting immigrants and minorities.

Closing

To everyone out there that didn't vote for Trump; especially to all of the minorities he has ridiculed, attacked, threatened, and thrown under the bus ...

Stay strong. Progress is never easy. It's about to get harder than it's ever been in our lifetimes. It just means we have to fight harder than we ever have before.

Martin Luther King Jr spoke of the long arc of time that bends toward justice. Unfortunately, when you step further back, you see that it's actually a pendulum, and swings both ways. Progress is not a right. We have to defend it, to be ever vigilant, or we will lose it all.

Know that half the country loves you for who you are. I, a white male, will be there by your side, fighting with you. I am so sorry you are going to have it so much worse than I will, as it's not as easy for others to hide who they are like it is for me.

We cannot give up this fight. We cannot compromise on equality. And we can't just limit ourselves to posting tweets and articles online: we have to back things up with real actions. Real protests. Real civil disobedience.

We must organize. No equality? No peace.