Friday, November 11, 2016

A Note on the Presidential Election

Image: ACLU Website

Well, the election happened, and Donald Trump won the presidency.  As I noted earlier, this was the worst possible outcome for me.  With the Republicans having retained control of Congress (though not a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate), the GOP is poised to ram through its agenda in 2017, bigly.  If I really think about it though, it's probably not going to be that bad for me personally.  I'm fortunate enough to have a job that pays well, to own my own home, to have been born in this country (and hence be a citizen), to be a man, and to be able to pass for white (although it's more complicated than that).

This is a bad outcome for the poor, who will suffer under a probable repeal of Obamacare, including the expansion of Medicaid that went with it.  The poor will probably see tax cuts mainly for the rich, while public services are cut and deficits explode.

This is a bad outcome for people who are young enough to be of military age.  Donald Trump does not have the wisdom or anger management skills to keep us out of unnecessary wars.  Believe me, I hope I'm wrong about that.  I also hope the draft isn't brought back.  I'm in my early thirties now, so the fighting will probably be done by people younger than myself.

This is a bad outcome for undocumented immigrants and people of color.  Trump's scapegoating of immigrants was a centerpiece of his campaign.  Obama's executive actions in benefit of people brought here as children without papers will probably end.  The DACA list under Obama will become a deportation list under Trump.  Trump has contempt for the Black Lives Matter movement, and has signaled that he will support the police, even when they use excessive force or profile people of color.  Trump is an open racist.  He called Mexicans rapists and criminals.  He called for a complete ban on muslims entering the country.  He was endorsed by the KKK.

This is a bad outcome for the LGBT community.  Trump has promised to put arch-conservative justices on the Supreme Court, the same court that just handed down the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.  I doubt he would fight for very necessary reforms to end discrimination against the LGBT community in the workplace and public accommodations.  In many states, you can still be fired just for being gay.  Check out the Human Rights Campaign's list of concerns.

Finally, and perhaps most painfully, this is a bad outcome for women.  While I disagree with Hillary Clinton on policy in some areas, there is no doubt in my mind that she was immensely more qualified to be president than Trump and is a much better human being than Trump.  Trump narrowly won in the electoral college (but lost the popular vote) after a long record of demeaning words and actions against women, perhaps exemplified by the tape of him bragging about kissing women and grabbing their vaginas without their consent.  Beyond Trump's disrespect for women, his policies are anti-woman as well.  He is against abortion rights, even though the right to abortion is essential to a woman's well being.  Forcing women to carry out pregnancies even when their lives are in danger or they are not financially prepared to be a parent or they have been raped, or the child has a catastrophic birth defect, does not show respect for women.  Abortion is a tough issue, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that we have to preserve that right.  If you want fewer abortions to happen, as I do, let's empower women by giving them access to birth control and creating a society where it isn't so terrifying to bring children into the world.  That means we need to support new parents and children through universal health care regardless of ability to pay, education, child care, paid leave, etc.  You don't get to take the "moral high ground" and brag about being "pro-life" when you eviscerate the things that are pro-family and pro-child.  If abortion is banned, it won't stop.  It will just stop being safe and legal.  Women make tough life and death decisions every day on these issues.  We need to have enough respect for them to honor their choices about what is best for them and their families.  My wife thinks sexism played no small part in Trump's victory and I have to agree.  I get it, I'm on the left, but to me, among the two major-party candidates, there was no real choice.  We could have elected the nation's first female president, inspiring women and girls for years to come.  Instead we elected the first troll-American president.  Keeping women "in their place" was part of that.  Remember "Trump that bitch"?  We're not over sexism in this county.

So things are bad, and honestly, I'm probably going to be depressed for at least a few days.  But you know what?  Things aren't all bad.  In California we passed a lot of amazing initiatives.  We legalized recreational marijuana and struck a blow against the war on drugs.  We passed Prop 57 to give prisoners incentives to better themselves and struck a blow against mass incarceration.  We passed taxes to fund public services and stuck a blow against the conservative creed of "you're on your own."  In Los Angeles County we passed Measure M, which will make our transit system the envy of the nation.  I'm proud of what we did here in California, for the most part.  It's an important reminder that there is still hope.

With regard to Trump, I say let's grieve now, but come January, we need to fight back politically against his agenda.  Here are some concrete things you can do to fight back:
  • Subscribe to a newspaper and read it a bit every day to keep up with politics.  Journalists help keep politicians accountable and they need to be paid for their work.  That means we all need to pay for news.  Trump hates the media.  Give the media some money, because thoughtful, tough journalism is essential to a functioning democracy.
  • When you have an opinion on a proposed bill or executive action, write to the President and your members of Congress, or call them, regardless of their party.  Don't just stay silent.
  • Get in the streets and peacefully protest.
  • Vote in every election, not just the presidential elections!  The "minor" elections are about Congress and local government, which are also important.
  • Find a political cause you care about and donate to it, on a monthly basis if you can, and/or volunteer.  I do this through the American Civil Liberties Union, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
  • Get on a local commission or run for office, no matter how small or local that office may seem.
  • Don't give up on the other side.  Trump tapped into some real anger and economic anxiety that we need to do a better job of understanding.  We're all human beings and we all make mistakes.  We all see the world differently.  Don't just put yourself in a bubble with people who agree with you.  It's hard, I know, and I'm guilty of it too, but we have to try to think outside of our ideologies if the other side is willing to meet us half way.
  • Don't give up.  I know Trump's win is a huge disappointment, but we've had disappointing presidents before.  We need to make sure that Trump's bad ideas face a buzz saw of opposition at every turn and eventually that Republicans lose seats in Congress.  Democracy can't function without opposition and debate, and opposition we shall provide!

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