A man was just elected president who has vowed to racially profile people like me, round us up, and throw us in jail or deport us. I might even march in the streets over it.
The fear is real for many.
Will all the authoritarian threats Trump made over the last year happen—or might the opposite happen?
No one knows.
It’s a mistake to automatically believe President Trump will be as awful as his campaign rhetoric, if for no other reason than most presidents don’t live up to what they promise. Trump, of all people—a non-ideologue not beholden to dogma—might even very well set a flip-flop record.
That’s precisely what too many on the left are doing right now.
The millions of Americans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and again 2012 were not co-conspirators in a socialist plot to elect a secret Kenyan-born Muslim extremist who would destroy the United States. Yet this is exactly what the hard right screeched about, poisoning our politics for eight long years.
Obama and Trump are not the same kinds of men, far from it, but leftists who today scream that Trump has inspired an army of millions of secret-Klansmen to rise up and establish some racist dictatorship are behaving no better than Obama’s extreme conservative critics.
The left is being hateful right now.
Most who voted for Obama wanted a change from the George W. Bush administration. Period. They rejected Hillary Clinton, along with John McCain, back then, too.
Most who voted for Trump in this election deeply wanted a break from the politics-as-usual of Obama, Clinton and Bush. Trump blasted them all.
Exit polls show that this broad desire for change, more than any other factor, was voters’ top concern. Most also don’t even want a wall and desire immigration reform. Most wanted to legalize marijuana, even in pro-Trump states. Most Americans want background checks for guns, are pro-choice and support gay marriage.
2016 wasn’t some grand vindication of red meat social conservatism, much less the triumph of the now revealed racist masses.
This is not to say there weren’t frightening aspects of the Trump phenomenon.
I spoke out against the alt-right movement early and loudly and will continue to do so should they gain any significant traction (there’s always a danger in advertising the existence of these goons, too, as Hillary Clinton stupidly did).
But this small band of mostly online racists and their relationship to Trump’s Republican Party is akin to the Socialist Workers Party’s relationship to the Democrats (like white nationalists with Trump, bonafide socialists also got a boost in 2016 thanks to Bernie Sanders). It was a great year for political extremists all around.
But most who voted for Trump—including the president-elect himself—don’t even know what this movement is. Trump establishing a white nationalist presidency of David Duke’s dreams is about as likely as Obama appointing Jeremiah Wright as Secretary of State.
But this is the same dishonest tactic conservatives use against anyone who defends or tries to humanize immigrants or black activists—portraying immigrants who commit violent crime or extreme protester’s rhetoric as the true face of minority activists. Right now, many conservatives are even trying to portray Clinton supporters as violent rioters. This go-to blame game is beyond tired.
Lady Gaga had a message after the election:
Love should always trump hate. And it shouldn’t just be celebrity sloganeering.
Best-selling author, J.D. Vance, wrote at the New York Times Wednesday:
This election has revealed, above all, that Trump and Clinton voters occupy two separate countries. President-elect Trump is now the leader of both of those countries. I’m hopeful that he’ll show as president the empathy he so often failed to show as a candidate. Most important, I hope the residents of those countries do the same.
So where is the love right now for millions of people that progressives merely disagree with politically? You can criticize. You can even loathe Trump supporters. I don’t entirely disagree with that sentiment. It’s even okay to be emotional. Many of us are this week. We’re all human.
It even makes sense given the unique awfulness and ugliness of the Trump campaign that there would be marching in the streets. I would be more surprised if this kind of outcry didn’t happen.
But where is the outreach and compassion that is supposed to come first and foremost in how we conduct ourselves? Is that just for optics or when you think your side will win?
Where is the left’s better nature right now? The ball is in their court.