When Max and I were first conceptualizing this site, we decided that, while our writing would be informed by our shared progressive beliefs, we would not be explicitly political, we would focus entirely on sports and pop culture. This pledge has been tested in the last couple of days as the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election have slowly dawned upon us, filling us with sadness and a sense of dread. A loophole presents itself: The President Elect is a former owner of a professional football team and reality television star; hard to believe, I know. The reality of Donald J. Trump’s victory has not yet really sunk in for me, I talked to Max last night and he feels the same way; the feeling is not quite anger, though I am sure there is anger to come; it is sadness and, just as palpably, embarrassment. That Donald Trump, our country’s foremost narcissistic, sexist, racist shitbird, will be The United States’ representative to the world is deeply embarrassing.
Trump’s victory seems both surprising and inevitable. We underestimated the enthusiasm of Trump’s base, who I believe are a certain kind of white man who refuses to believe that the quality of his life is improving if the lives of minorities and women are improving as well. When the quality of life for white men is diminished, things get even worse for women and minorities, these men are fooled into believing that this improvement; the (barely) unspoken promise of the Trump campaign is that the lives of women and minorities will be diminished. Pity these men, their hate is borne of fear. It is the fear that it is not wrong to be different than them. They believe that freedom is the ability to limit the freedom of others.
We underestimated the power of xenophobia this election. To a greater extent, we underestimated our society’s disdain for women. Criticisms of Hillary Clinton as “cold” or “untrustworthy” have always felt like they come with the unspoken qualifier “because she’s a woman running for President,” or, rather, “because she is a woman running for president citing her impressive qualifications rather than folksy mom-ness.” The things Trump has said to and about women should have eliminated him from contention time and time again, but his base proved alarmingly unconcerned with his misogyny. It is clear that Trump feels the highest aspiration a woman should have is to be a lovely ornament for a man to fuck; this is how he feels about his own daughter. Many of Trump’s base are, undoubtedly, invested in the archaic, useless, idiotic notion that it is right for women to subjugated by men. But their time will end; a woman will ascend to this country’s highest office, they can only put it off for so long, it will happen soon.
There is a chance that Trump was simply pimping his base with his rhetoric, that he plans to be a much more even-keeled president than he promised on the campaign trail (his victory speech was startlingly gracious as was his meeting with President Obama this week). We can hope for this but we should not assume it. Rest now, mourn the loss, and get ready to fight tooth-and-nail for rightness and decency. For most of us, the first violations of freedom and justice will fall upon the heads of other people; we need to be as outraged at these offenses as we would if they happened to us; that outrage needs to be expressed, to be heard. If Trump delivers upon his campaign promises, the need for empathy, kindness and gentleness between individuals will become even more important. Cling to your loved ones. Invite new loved ones into your life. Be hopeful. America’s greatness lies in our ability to fix what’s wrong. Sometimes that takes a long a time and a great amount of effort. Sometimes one half of the country has to drag the other half along, but we tend to move in the right direction. America is not perfect currently, but it is in fact already great, and we were working on being greater. If Donald Trump throws us off that path temporarily then we will make America great again in four years.
I leave you with Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator, just a prescient as ever:
and also “The Block”…