OK, so a lot of my Republican friends on Facebook are posting about how liberals need to stop whining now that the election is over. They can’t understand why we’re doing all this moaning and wailing when they had to go through the same thing eight years ago. I’m not an expert, just a regular person, but I’ll try to break it down.
I remember watching the debates during the elections of 2000 and 2004. In each one, you had a Democrat with plans to solve problems. This is the problem, and here’s how we fix it. On the other side you had George W. Bush, spouting off buzzwords but no real plans other than the same cut-taxes-for-the-rich BS the Republicans have been selling since the 1980s, which has never worked. In 2000 I thought, who falls for this? Who doesn’t see through this? Then in 2004 I thought, who falls for this again? After that, I just decided half of America was stupid. It makes you feel pretty good when you think half a country is dumber than you.
I spent the last decade and a half believing that. Republicans believe everything they see on Fox News because they’re dumb. Republican politicians can lie and make stuff up because nobody will call them on it. Except…I know people who vote Republican who are smart. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the GOP has the market cornered on stupid, but I understand that’s not everybody. I saw people I know—rational, sane people—decide that our best hope to save the economy was a failed businessman with an economic plan that would bankrupt the country.
I was, and continue to be, baffled by this. I mean, I get the anger at the establishment. I know we have crooked governments from the state level all the way up to DC where they all bow down to Goldman Sachs. I get that. What I don’t understand is how you decide to clear the rats out of a building by releasing a tiger inside it. Yeah it might get rid of the rats, but then it will tear you apart and eat your tasty organs because it’s a fucking tiger.
When I woke up on Wednesday morning, my first reaction was to want to yell and scream and call people names. That might make me feel better, but it won’t do any good.
Here’s what’s different this time around, for us.
First of all, Trump ran on a campaign of hate and fear. Now I know you might be saying that’s not you. Maybe you’re not a bigot, but a lot of Trump’s supporters are. Racists, homophobes, xenophobes. A lot of people who voted for Trump aren’t these “deplorables” you heard so much about, but a lot of them are.
Why is this so scary? Trump gave those people a voice. The GOP has been the party of discreet racism since the Southern Strategy, but there was such a thing as too far. Even if the wingnuts had already started creeping in with the Tea Party, some things were still beyond the pale. Trump changed that. He took a far-right-wing bunch of crazies and made them a legitimate force in American politics. For people of color, or LGBT people, disabled people, or anybody who isn’t White Male America, the message here is “You are less than us. America hates you and that’s OK.” Now we have to explain to our kids that hate and fear are winning.
This hate and violence are already spreading. When my autistic son woke up Wednesday morning and we broke the news to him, we let him stay home because he couldn’t stop crying. This is a sweet kid who would never hurt anyone, but he was already getting bullied by the Trump kids at school for not being one of them. “What will they think of me now?” he cried. Now, in schools across the country, we have kids telling their non-white classmates that they’re going to get deported or worse.
If you voted for Trump—even if this isn’t you—you helped make this happen. That’s why we’re not real happy with you right now.
Another thing that makes us frustrated and disappointed is the fact that Trump lied just about all the time. He spent a lot of time talking about Crooked Hillary, but statistically he lied almost constantly. Sometimes he would tell 40 lies in one speech. Then if anyone called him on it, he would deny he said it. He would lie, then lie about lying. The thing that’s so maddening to us is, his supporters didn’t care if what he said was the truth or not.
So that’s some of why we were so scornful of Trump and his supporters. The thing is, Trump isn’t even the real problem. Or at least not the whole problem.
It’s not just Trump and his hardcore supporters that make this so frightening. When Obama was elected, there was a tide of resentment against him and Republican lawmakers blocked everything he tried to do. That won’t happen this time. This is what makes it really scary for us. Republicans are in control of everything, which means if they want to start rolling back civil rights, they can do it. They can fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court and start changing things.
With a court that was already leaning conservative, we got decisions like Citizens United and the decision that got rid of parts of the Voting Rights Act. Immediately after that one, Republican states started passing voter ID laws. These seem like a good idea on the surface, but they don’t actually stop any voter fraud. The effect they do have is to make it harder for poor people and minorities to vote. These people—surprise!—tend to vote Democrat.
Another example of this is Planned Parenthood. A lot of conservatives are against abortion, but they can’t outlaw it because that’s unconstitutional. What they do instead is to try and defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood can’t use any money from the Federal government to provide abortions. Zero dollars. So taking away their funding isn’t stopping abortions—it’s stopping what they DO use that money for, like Zika virus testing. At the same time, Republican-controlled states try to shut down Planned Parenthood with unnecessary rules about admitting privileges. This just makes it harder for women to get healthcare they need.
This is what scares us about Republicans being in charge. When they can’t get what they want by playing by the rules, they find a way to cheat. With Trump in the Oval Office, a GOP-controlled House and Senate, and a right-leaning Supreme Court, there are no checks and balances. We’ve got a new president who doesn’t believe in global warming and a new veep who thinks you can electroshock the gay away. This party can dismantle every bit of progress our society has made, and there’s nobody to stop them.
When the GOP gets rid of Obamacare, some people who lose their insurance and can’t get coverage because of a pre-existing condition are going to die.
When the business-loving GOP doesn’t stop big pharma from price-gouging, some people who can’t afford their skyrocketing medication prices are going to die.
When our President and Congress do nothing to stop carbon emissions, the most vulnerable areas will be flooded and some people who live there are going to die.
This is why we’re so angry and scared and sad and just disappointed. We thought that we, as a country, were finally better than this. It’s not just about a difference in ideology. It’s about an actual threat to the future of our country and the safety of our children. We have entered a terrible, dangerous new time in America.
If you’re still reading at this point, I hope at least some of this makes more sense to you than what you did makes to me.