A week after the shocking election that brought Donald J. Trump to the White House and the pinnacle of world power, I am still getting messages from colleagues and friends asking when they will feel better. Or saying how surprised they are that they still feel this rotten. Many of my international friends are telling me how sorry they are for us Americans, and how worried. I too still feel that awful pit in my stomach.
For the first time in its history, America is on the wrong side of it. Instead of moving forward and growing as a nation, we are moving backwards and becoming smaller. Constitutional rights that were extended to women, such as the right to make their own reproductive decisions, will be in jeopardy when Trump begins appointing judges, and the NRA's narrow and retrograde interpretation of the Second Amendment will be etched in stone. America's greatness rested on its hospitality to immigrants, its diversity and openness to new people and new ideas. Trump's promise to build a wall around our borders turns back the clock 200 years.
Thanks to the nearly 50% of Americans who decided not to exercise their vote, the 1/4 of Americans who voted for Trump will now rein over the 75% of American's who didn't. I understand that those voters were mad at the "establishment"; I understand that many of them had had it with watching the 1% take home Christmas bonuses that were bigger than all that they'd earned in a lifetime of hard work, but in accepting Trump's rhetoric of resentment, they have shot themselves in the foot. Backwards-looking countries don't prosper. Misogyny and xenophobia and racism tamp down possibility; inclusion and openness invites growth.
Yes, both candidates were flawed. Rightly or wrongly, Hillary seemed like an entitled elitist to one set of voters; Trump like an intolerant, corrupt, prevaricating bigot. Some might say we got what we deserved.
But here's why those of us who didn't vote for Trump are still sick over it.
1. Wrong has become the new right. Americans have chosen a leader who openly express sexist, racist, and Islamophobic views. Children now think it's acceptable to spread that hate--just look at all the swastikas that have been painted on public walls, and the spate of attacks on hijab-wearing women. If the new first lady really does want to make the fight against bullying her cause, she needs to start by convincing her husband to apologize for his own many lapses.
2. Women. He calls them fat and nasty, he calls them "pieces of ass," says you have to "treat them like shit" and brags that his celebrity entitles him to "grab them by the pussy." How is this okay for the 52% of white women who voted for him? How is this okay for the 63% of white men who voted for him, 100% of whom had mothers, and most of whom have wives, daughters, sisters, and female friends. Ivanka, who is striving so hard to get a seat in the administration, claims her go-to issues are equal pay for equal work for women and paid maternity leave for working moms, both of which are great if she can make any progress. Perhaps she should start by protecting the most basic rights that women have already won, such as the right to make her own reproductive decisions, instead of leaving them up to a government and a court that is dominated by white men.
3. Immigration. America was and still is a land of immigrants. 43 percent of Silicon Valley companies founded in the last seven years had at least one immigrant founder. The C-suites of technology companies are full of them: Google's Sundar Pichai and Sergey Brin, Oracle's Safra Catz, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, to name just a few. Now our leadership threatens to deport 3 million immigrants immediately. International talent will still flow, but it will flow to other countries.
4. Health care. President Obama, was the first president to make affordable health insurance available to everyone. Trump vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it, without any disruptions and while lowering prices for everyone. He hasn't explained how he proposes to do that, which makes everyone skeptical. In the meantime, Paul Ryan promises to abolish Medicare, by as early as 2017.
5. Right wing appointees. Trump promised to "drain the swamp" of Washington, but his core team is full of lobbyists, Wall Street insiders, fringe military types, and even the publisher of a notorious white nationalist publication. Stephen Bannon's Breitbart Report features a column by an avowed ethno-nationalist and a page chronicling "black crimes." The Supreme Court justices he has vowed to appoint, all of them pre-vetted by the right wing Heritage Foundation - will be appointed for life.
6. Duped on Taxes. A system which allowed Trump to forego paying millions of dollars in taxes desperately needs to be changed, but the working class voters that expected him to change it for their benefit were duped. The tax relief he promised will all go to the investment class, not wage earners like them.
7. Guns. The biggest threat to American safety isn't immigrants or ISIS, it's our easy access to guns. Trump has vowed to make it easier for anyone to own and carry military grade weapons.
No wonder my friends and I have been feeling so sick. The world's great beacon of liberty, tolerance, and discovery, has been dimmed. America is truly on a downward trajectory.
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