In The Aftermath: Part 2
I have been thinking a lot about how those of us who lost this election are being asked to figure out How We Got Here: by the pundits competitively rushing to hind-sighted analysis, and by our own progressive allies. We’re being asked to contemplate what we were, and were not doing, to hear The Other’s concerns throughout the campaign, the concerns that Michael Moore was warning us about.
We’re being asked to feel their pain and suffering while we're being labeled as elitists, or naïve, or too sensitive, or in a bubble, or too politically correct, or out of touch with Working Class America. The Real America. AKA White Middle America.
We’re being asked to figure out how to return to the Party’s populist roots, not necessarily for us, but for those who have just been given unchecked permission to sit in their lack of education about how government works. For those who have been granted dispensation to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the part their own racism, misogyny, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia played in allowing their profoundly uninformed, unprepared, unqualified, trigger-ready candidate become the leader. For half of the country.
I certainly don’t object to taking a deep dive into understanding how we got here. Of course, we should. But I do object to being asked to behave while violent acts are being perpetrated in the name of their candidate and their party.
His voters have been given full license to don the conqueror’s robes. I don’t hear anyone calling for their self-reflection, or to have consideration for the pain and suffering we are experiencing over the loss of democratic principles and safety. And possibly our legislated rights.
In this instance of national perpetrator/victim syndrome, we are the ones being asked to figure out what part we played in this collective license to vilify, threaten, or physically harm us. (If only you hadn’t worn that short skirt, or hoodie, or spoken that foreign language.) We are the ones being asked to examine how the Democratic party lost its way. And to be reasoned and reasonable about it.
Well, forgive me if I find this request unreasonable, infuriating, and too burdensome. I’m a little distracted by the stranger in the restaurant who feels free to put his hand on my body; too worried for my dark-skinned grandchildren’s lives; fearful for my Muslim friend and her turban-wearing husband who have been threatened. I am terrified that the victors will come after my children, grandchildren, and me like they came for the Jewish California journalist who found a swastika carved into her car today. I’m busy responding to friends whose houses have been trashed, or whose lives have been threatened. And I’m anguished about the KKK march that’s scheduled here in North Carolina in celebration of their candidate’s win.
We who didn’t vote for the president-elect may be guilty of missing something, of not listening, of not paying attention. But we are not guilty of violence toward the white men and women who see themselves as disenfranchised. Who is the aggrieved Other here?
It seems elitist to assume that we should be the ones to figure out how we all got here. It feels victimizing and dangerous to be the ones to reach out to those who would harm us. Are his voters not capable of reflection for themselves? Is it elitist to read the Constitution, research history, have reasoned arguments, respect facts, believe in science, soul-search, and ask hard questions about what went wrong? Is it elitist to reject hate speech? Is it our job to help the aggressor reform? Forgive me, but I find this all a bit ironic. And, all too familiar.