I cried last night as the final projections were coming in and it became clear Trump had been elected the next President of the United States. I cried again, no, I sobbed, this morning before I even managed to get out of bed.
The thoughts flooded my mind and it was just too much. ACA is going to be repealed and I’m going to have to go back to work for a big employer. Can they find a way to legally invalidate my marriage? I don’t think so, but I’ll need to research. Is it safe for me to work for an employer not based in California, Oregon or a similar state where I can’t be fired for being queer? Another thing I need to look up. Is Roe v Wade going to be overturned? How soon could that happen? Which states are going to be too risky for me to travel to now? Religious freedom bills are almost certainly to become ubiquitous. How will this affect my ability to get essential services? How oh how are we going to get through the global fallout of a Trump presidency? Being a gender non-conforming queer woman is bad enough. Trans folks, PoC, immigrants, Muslims, are going to face so much more shit. How can I support and fight with them?
Eventually I calmed down and got out of bed. Sherri made me tea before she had to leave to teach and then I started processing with the rest of you all on Twitter. And now I sit down to write this post.
In selecting Trump, nearly half of my fellow voting Americans demonstrated their investment in upholding and restoring White, cis-male, heterosexual supremacy and hegemony. They demonstrated it was more important to them to send a big fuck you to the establishment than to opt for stability with a qualified but flawed politician. They demonstrated their discontentment with being knocked down a few rungs of the economic and social ladder. They demonstrated their commitment to ensuring they have someone below them on that ladder, no matter the collective cost.
I have compassion for why some people voted for Trump. There’s no doubt groups of whites are hurting, particularly in smaller cities and rural communities. But they are by no means the only ones who are. And if exit polls are even close to accurate (which they may not be), we know well-off whites voted for Trump in greater numbers than did poor whites.
Trump didn’t win this election because of his plan to improve life for all Americans. His policy positions, when they are coherent, are a mess. He won because of his vision to restore a way of life for a very specific group of Americans, at great expense to the rest of us. Scapegoating is a powerful tool, and Trump and the new Republican party used it well during this election.
This is why focusing on the “economic anxiety ” of whites, as I’ve seen portions of the media and my peer group do today, is a costly distraction. If white folks generally felt peachy keene about their social and economic status in this post-colonial, increasingly globalized world, would they have seen through Trump’s abhorrent isms and voted for Clinton? We’ll never know. But it doesn’t matter. White folks, as an aggregate, are never going to feel peachy keene about their social and economic status again. The world is changing. Whites are losing relative status, and right they should because they have disproportionately benefitted from the subjugation and oppression of others for far too long. Your disenfranchisement is not a free pass to have taken the morally indefensible action of voting for Trump.
Does it hurt to give something up even if you were never entitled to it in the first place? Of course it does. The hurt doesn’t justify your entitlement. And it matters what you do with that hurt. Unfortunately, humans have a strong tendency towards tribalism, hierarchy, and scapegoating. When we hurt, we want someone to blame, and we look to those we consider others. Immigrants have taken our jobs. Muslims are to blame for our lost sense of security. Queers getting married are responsible for our changing family dynamics. None of this is true, but the world is changing faster than most whites can comfortably adapt and they need to blame somebody. Whites are so convinced everybody else is to blame, they are willing to burn everything down rather than work together and improve things for all.
And there are powerful factions who have a vested interest in this being the case. Some people are going to get even more rich as a result of Trump being president. The evangelicals and men’s rights activists are going to rejoice in the restoration of patriarchal power we only recently started dismantling via equal rights legislation and other legal protections for women and queer folk.
I don’t have the energy now to go into how the Democratic establishment and liberal elite have also failed us, but they have. Nearly every single one of our institutions is complicit in getting us to where we are today.
So, what are we going to do about it?
We’re going to organize and build community, prioritizing on our local ones. We’re going to organize labor so we can engage in effective collective bargaining and other actions.
We’re going to organize to support each other in all the ways needed during the turbulent times to come. We’re going to make space to grieve, play, rest, and heal. As my friend @ameliabreau says: “caring is a radical act.”
We’re going to build coalitions across geography and demographics. We’re going to figure out how to get as many people as possible involved in dismantling the white patriarchy.
We’re going to have critical conversations amongst ourselves. We’ll employ compassion and empathy, but we’ll hold each other accountable. We’re going to recognize that the majority of white women voted for Trump and that there are likely “feminist” women among us who act as collaborators with the patriarchy whether they intend to or not. We’re going to hold our activist leaders accountable when they engage in bad behavior or act in bad faith. No more throwing WoC under the bus. No more.
We’re going to focus on building self-reliant, self-sustaining communities. We’re going to teach each other essential life skills and trades so we can survive and thrive in a world that is hostile to us. We’re not going to wait for an outside funding source or for the State or Federal government to rescue us.
I am still hurt, and I am still scared. But now I am energized. I am radicalized.
I hope you are too and that you’ll join me.