Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Waking up to another country: CITY's post-election commentary

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 11:20 AM

FROM JEREMY (staff writer):
While the country conducts an autopsy on this election, there are a lot of people who are very worried and scared about what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for them, or for family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

Words fail because Trump is a scary guy. He’s proven masterful at manipulating people’s anxieties and fears, making immigrants the enemy, and lumping Muslims in with terrorists. He was endorsed by the official newspaper of the KKK and said nothing to repudiate it.

And instead of turning off voters, Trump fired them up.

During this campaign, we saw the rise of the alt-right, which is little more than warmed-over white supremacy. In Brighton and Pittsford, a group chucked fliers in people’s driveways urging people to make Rochester greater by making it whiter. Hell, former KKK imperial wizard David Duke made his grand re-entry to politics, though he deservedly lost his bid for a Louisiana US Senate seat. Still, the man got 58,000-plus votes.

Back in April, I covered Trump’s local campaign rally, and here’s how I characterized it:

But Trump isn't looking for people to get along; that much was clear from that speech. You're either with him or you're the enemy, and it was clear that many in the crowd feel the same way. That mindset came through as he blasted the national Republican Party leadership for its threats of a brokered convention; he's earned millions of votes and won more states than the other candidates, Trump said, and should win the nomination before the convention.

There was a point when he was ranting about the dishonest media who he said were lying about him, and the full crowd turned and booed the press pen. The mob was clearly caught up in Trump’s message, and the effect was unsettling.

I worry that similar things will happen en masse, over and over again, in the coming months and years. When people say they’re scared, we need to listen and make sure they not only feel safe, but actually are safe.

Here’s a little bit of trivia for this astonishing day.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led the country in enacting the vast progressive programs of the New Deal, was first elected president on November 8, 1932. On the 84th anniversary of that vote, we elected Donald Trump president and gave him the backing of a Republican Congressional majority, who have pledged to dismantle one of the most important social-welfare programs, the Affordable Care Act, that the country has had since Roosevelt’s death.

FROM FRANK DE BLASE (music writer):

I’ll admit it: I underestimated Donald Trump. And I overestimated the people who voted him in. It would seem they’re in the majority.

The entropist in me sort of embraced the chaos brought on by their misguided pride and ignorance: “How close will we get to the flame?” “What will Trump say next?” or “Mommy, what’s a p*ssy?” Now it’s more like, “How long until Kim Jong-un gets the launch codes?” or “When will Trump and Putin share their first kiss?”

Our mistake was treating Trump as an outsider, as the “f**k you” vote to a fiercely and sadly divided country which has collectively fallen on its own middle finger. Now in the America I knew – the America I thought I knew — the “f**k you” vote has turned into a f**k ourselves vote. Australia is sounding better and better.

You have to ask, right? Was Hillary Clinton the right candidate for the Democrats?

I didn’t think so a year ago, and I don’t think so now. And no, I don’t think Bernie Sanders was, either. Much as I agree with Sanders on many issues, I think Trump – and almost any Republican candidate – would have creamed him yesterday. As we said in our primary endorsement, the country simply isn’t there yet. I wish it were, but it’s not.

I think Joe Biden would have had a better chance – but not, as a friend pointed out to me yesterday – if he had had to run a primary against Clinton. He and Clinton would have split the more moderate Democratic vote, and Sanders would have been the nominee. But if Biden had been the nominee, I think he could have beaten Trump.

While Hillary Clinton was qualified – and vastly preferable to Donald Trump – she had an awful lot of baggage, and it had been publicized for years. Much of it was fabricated. She’s not a criminal. But she and her husband have done lots of unsavory things. Many Americans disliked her intensely, distrusted her, and Democratic leaders knew that when they backed her.

That wasn’t smart, politically. And it wasn’t good for the country.

FROM KIARA (sad intern):
This morning, I woke up and recognized, like I always do, that I am a young woman and a person of color; I woke up recognizing the qualities that make me a minority. But today, something is different.

Tears were already preparing to fall as soon as I opened my eyes. Donald Trump is president-elect and I realized that the majority of the United States of America does not support me, women’s bodily autonomy, the fight against police brutality, refugees fleeing ISIS, immigrants enduring the long and expensive process of becoming a citizen, or the LGBTQ community. The American people have ignored Trump’s fiscal, moral, and ethical irresponsibility.

The outcome of this election has been haunting me all day.

Somehow, a woman who is one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for president was beaten out by a man who has had businesses go bankrupt and faced allegations of sexual assault. We broke a barrier by getting Hillary Clinton this far, but we regressed as a people by not putting her in the White House.

I’m thinking of the young women I saw excitedly putting stickers on Susan B. Anthony’s grave yesterday. I’m thinking of every sexual assault victim, of all genders. I’m thinking of the illegal immigrants I have met throughout my lifetime who are fighting every day for citizenship. I’m thinking of my friend who is still replaying the idea of conversion therapy in her head.

Our vote was a vote for our moral standing.

Today, ask your friends how they are doing; don’t forget that we are human.

FROM CHRIS (news editor):
As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump has pulled off one of the greatest cons in American history. A rich NYC boy who probably doesn’t know a lathe from a letter-opener has convinced blue-collar Americans that he will represent their interests. I guess it doesn’t matter that Trump probably couldn’t stand to share a dinner table with them.

There’s a lot of talk about the disconnect in our culture, but I realized last night that it’s more than person to person. The politicians are disconnected from the people they represent, the media are disconnected from the people they purport to cover, trust in our institutions is shattered, and who in the hell are the pollsters talking to?

We talk a lot at CITY about making sure we understand and write for all of the communities in Rochester: Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, the city’s significant immigrant population. Who’d of thought the person we understand the least is the white neighbor with the Trump sign on his lawn?

I’m worried about the Affordable Care Act. I’m worried about Social Security-Medicare-Medicaid. I’m worried about Roe v. Wade. I’m worried about the EPA. I’m worried that the Spray Tan in Chief will bomb the hell out of the world.

I think I’ll go live in a tent in my back yard. Join me?

FROM REBECCA (arts writer):
While I'm not happy about Trump's win, I think that a considerable problem with a Clinton victory would have been so many liberals hitting the snooze button again: a lack of outrage and a lot of shrugging while we keep fighting devastating proxy wars, filling prisons, choosing corporate interest over the environment, and committing other atrocities. If your reaction to that is to get puffed up, just take a breath and think about it; we can all do more.

Take for example how little the left cares about the record deportations that happened under Obama's administration while flipping out about Trump's rhetoric.

There's bad and there's the illusion of good. This nation chose the overt bad. That's actually really useful information.

There's a window of opportunity in this mess. People are on edge about what actions Trump will set in motion for this nation. There is potential for more scrutiny, more willingness to be critical. We need to use this momentum, and we need to use it now.

We have a chance to create genuinely healthy, direct-action movements because the liberal candidate lost and people can't wash their hands of personal accountability. But will the left work harder for the nation they say they want to manifest? Are we willing fight for it? Will we examine what more we can be doing?

I understand the lamentations everyone is posting on various media today, but I'm especially proud to see so many of you writing calls to specific action, words of encouragement, statements of support for vulnerable Americans targeted by hateful rhetoric, and calling for help in planning courses of action.

We have our work cut out for us, but we always have.

FROM KURT (calendar editor):
I keep telling myself today that this planet has existed for millions of years before our kind, and it’ll most likely exist after us. I’m trying to remind myself that there are things much bigger than us. But regardless, I am trying to find solace in existentialism; we’re here today, and we’re in this together.

At the end of it all, people need to stand for something, and regardless of who voted for whom, it’s our responsibility to be nothing but a good influence on each other. It’s ignorant coming from me, a 20-something white man, but I don’t think I can do much else other than express empathy for everyone around me, and do my best to encourage everyone that in the end, we’re in this together.

Allow this to be an opportunity to better ourselves and to make sure those who are afraid or confused have someone by their side.

FROM TIM (staff writer):

It's hard to process exactly what happened last night that drove the election of Donald J. Trump.  It may take a few weeks. But some things come to mind; first and foremost, progressives took a beating. Many white Americans soundly rejected the Obama legacy in droves. They said enough with the Affordable Care Act, enough with marriage equality, and enough with addressing social injustice and racism.

In the case of the latter, many blame Obama for stirring racial anxiety and they cite the Black Lives Matter movement as evidence. And further, they resent any implication that they may be racist, homophobic, or xenophobic.  Political correctness is seen by many as weakness and an attempt to silence the voices of many people who simply do not like the direction the country has taken during much of the last 30 years. A survey showed that seven out 10 Trump supporters longed for a return to the 1950's, the New York Times reported. What a coincidence.

Like it or not populism is the new norm, and it's not always nice. Certainly Democrats have their work cut out for them. It's probably fair to say that neither Republicans nor Democrats have paid attention to white working class Americans, those making under $100K a year in blue collar manufacturing jobs. Globalization has hit them hard and judging from results in Rust Belt states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, many voters may feel they got little relief from Democrats.

This election has often been compared to Brexit, and there are some similarities. Anti-immigration sentiment is high. A sinking mistrust has swept through many of the country's most important institutions and government agencies: the Supreme Court, law enforcement, the judicial system, public education, and health care. Some people will surely add the FBI to that list considering it's actions just days before the election.

Certainly some people woke up today, the same as I have, wondering what just happened. Mr. Trump has tapped into something many voters obviously feel — they want a different America.  The question now is whether the choice they made yesterday was the one they want.

FROM MARY ANNA (publisher & editor):
Leading up to the election, there was a lot of discussion in the print media about how deeply divided the Republican Party is and the challenge it will face after the presidential election. But I was struck by Jonathan Chait’s pre-election piece in New York magazine.

Chait thinks the Republican Party is not in disarray at all. Instead, the party has entered a period of “authoritarianism,” he wrote and it’s “more unified than one might imagine as well as more dangerous.”
“Trump,” Chait wrote, “is an extreme event, but Trumpism is no fluke”; it’s where many Republicans are right now.

And I think yesterday proved it’s where many Americans are right now, wanting to rely on someone larger than life, someone who will create – on his own, for them – the kind of country they long for.
Will Republicans in Congress try to restrain him? Given their behavior before the election, I’m not hopeful.

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