My fellow Americans, today is the day we all have to stop pretending to be something we are not and it’s time to stop making excuses for it. We are not a country that embraces diversity or justice. We are not a country that protects the poor and the hungry. We are not a country that encourages the marginalized or the disenfranchised. If we were, Donald Trump would not be the president.
I know, so many of you are sitting there right now saying “But, I..”. Save it. Certainly, there are many among us who do all of the above, approximately 65,844,954 of us do. Coincidentally, that’s the same number of people who voted for Hillary Clinton. However, 67% of the voting population do not share those values, if they did, Donald Trump would not be the president.
We have spent decades rationalizing the hatred, racism, bigotry, sexism and homophobia that permeates this country. We say things like “It’s not everyone” or “It’s only certain parts of the country” or “It’s the older generation and it’s not considered acceptable anymore”. Except it’s actually 43 states; 43 states where the majority of people did not cast their vote for Hillary Clinton. In 41 of those states, the percentage of people who did not vote was higher than the percentage received by the winning candidate (ie: 38% of registered voters did not vote in Illinois and 34% of registered voters voted for Clinton – link).
In fact two-thirds of registered voters in this country said that Donald Trump was acceptable to them by not voting for Hillary Clinton. I guess that’s what Trump means when he claims he actually won the popular vote. By the end of the campaign, there wasn’t a person in this country who didn’t know what Donald Trump stood for and who his supporters were, and by either voting for him or not voting for Hillary, two-thirds of voters said it was okay with them. If it wasn’t, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president.
Yes, I know the next argument is that a lot of those people thought it was just bluster with Trump and if he actually did win he’d pivot towards being more “presidential” and I know you’ll start pointing to the polls that show that the majority of Americans do not approve of Trump’s job performance right now. That’s like saying that it’s okay to shoot someone if you regret it later. In truth, there was nothing about Trump’s personality or history that could make one think he would ever back down or change his tone. But two-thirds of registered voters said it was perfectly okay if he didn’t change or that the risk was okay with them. If it hadn’t been, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president.
We say things like, “I wish there was more that I could do to combat hatred and intolerance.” Except there’s plenty we can do, the easiest being voting. I know that some states did what they could to make voting more difficult, but the majority of people who didn’t vote didn’t do so because they couldn’t, they did so because they couldn’t be bothered. Because it’s not just federal elections where people can’t be bothered, it’s local and state as well. If people truly wanted to bring about change, they would show up for every election. But they don’t, because if they did, Donald Trump would not be president.
So, it’s time to stop pretending that this country isn’t as bad as it seems right now. Today, Donald Trump went on national TV and legitimized the actions of white supremacists and condemned the actions of Americans who were trying to fight them. That he did this so openly should not surprise anyone. From the moment he declared his presidency, he ran on a white nationalist platform, his campaign stops doubled as Aryan nation rallies. Yet two-thirds of the voting public said that was okay with them.
So, we have to stop pretending that we are a country that embraces diversity or justice, a country who protects the poor and the hungry and encourages the marginalized or the disenfranchised. If we were, Donald Trump would not be the president.
Wendy Luxenburg writes for Palmer Report