trevor brookins

Trevor Brookins

*Mark Twain said there are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics. After this election I feel like polls are lies based on statistics. I cannot trust them again. And I’m angry at myself for believing the polls so wholeheartedly during this election cycle.

I am not mad at Donald Trump. I don’t believe he is qualified to do this job and did not vote for him. But I respect that he was able to find a way to win.

I am upset that after campaigning on a misogynistic and xenophobic platform he was still able to garner such support. I’m more angry that a large portion of people in our country don’t believe that those things are important enough to disqualify a person from gaining their vote for public office.

If you believe that things needed to change there were a number of people in the Republican field to choose from that didn’t come across as a bigot, but voters consciously chose Trump. That’s disappointing and upsetting.

I live in a suburb of New York City and profess socialist values. So I exist in a bubble of liberal bias. But I understood this already and specifically seek out conservative news sites to balance my perspective. But I still did not hear anything about how poorly people were doing or how they were so unhappy with the developments under Democratic leadership for the past 8 years. So I am left to wonder where did the discontent come from?

On a related note, I am not a woman, queer, Muslim, or an immigrant so I can’t anticipate my personal lifestyle changing for me to worry about Trump’s tenure in office because he has highlighted those segments of society as not deserving the same citizenship privileges. But as an empathetic human being and a member of American society I can say I know people in those subsections of our population and can imagine how bad things can turn for them and I can worry for them. The fact that so many people cannot engage in the same thought experiment is troubling because it means they can only conceive of a problem if it affects them personally; this kind of narrow perspective is how biases start. The only other explanation is that folks engaged in the thought experiment and didn’t care; that is how biases manifest themselves.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that both houses of Congress are going to be majority Republican for the next two years. I cannot say that I’d like the Democrats to obstruct Republicans the way Republicans obstructed them during Obama’s first term and again after he nominated a Supreme Court Justice earlier this year. I am not hypocritical in that way. But I worry about what kind of legislation might get enacted over the next two years if those Congressmen simply do their jobs and promote the kinds of policies their constituencies want – because those are the folks I was referring to in the last paragraph. Similarly I worry about Trump nominating one and possibly more Supreme Court Justice and the conservative turn the Court could take. I can’t say I’d be surprised if gay marriage or abortion options were eliminated were test cases to come before the Supreme Court in the next decade or so with Trump’s Justices presiding. Our society faces the real possibility of recreating the reality of American before the 1950s.

Even I thought is was cliché for people to say “this is the most important election ever” while trying to drum up urgency. That is always the case because the current election is the one where things can change and all of the things worked for in the past can be undone. I knew this on an intellectual level but the urgency always seem forced. I now see the consequences of taking those words lightly. I think liberals in general (and Democrats specifically) took for granted that civil rights were established and would remain the reality in this country. I think they took for granted that people accepted that all citizens deserve citizenship privileges. Now I know that there must always be someone at the rear guard to ensure that those things aren’t taken away.

Lastly while I’d like to be mad at liberals who voted for a third party candidate, I’m not. The whole point of democracy is that people shouldn’t feel like they’re being forced into accepting a leader (or one of two possible leaders). Nevertheless I would encourage the non-mainstream political parties to get to work so that they aren’t appearing on everyone’s radar in only presidential election years and basically sabotaging better candidates. Third parties can have serious political capital and really contribute to our political landscape. But not if the person running for president hasn’t heard of a city in a major military hotspot – that simply shows he isn’t prepared for the job he’s asking for (not that matters much I guess). Third parties need to roll up their sleeves and spend money and energy getting their voice heard over the next decade so that they’ll be able to really challenge the political establishment.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.