*What did we expect?
Did we actually believe a patently dysfunctional society—-complacent, intelligence-challenged, hopped up on Starbucks and tranced out on iphones and reality TV (which is anything but)–would somehow just up and produce a functional president?
Donald Trump won the election because he appealed to a well-intentioned but jingoistic fracture of America that believes he will save them from ISIS and taxes; another segment that simply could not live with the idea of the nation’s first black president being followed by an administration run by a woman; yet another segment that doesn’t like Trump but hates Hillary Clinton, and racists who heard in Trump’s bigoted rhetoric the hope that he will somehow take American back to when it was “great”—-code word for white.
Of course, Trump also won because a remarkably vast and apathetic segment of the nation simply did not vote. Ironically, many from that column share with some of those who voted for Trump a private ignominy: both are either embarrassed to say they voted for Trump or ashamed that they didn’t vote at all.
And while we can analyze over and again what did and did not happen, to use a term I despise, it is what it is.
Painfully, we needed this to happen. For decades, our society has been in a deep slumber of vanacy and denial. Those of us who refused to imagine a Trump presidency, quite simply, didn’t do enough to insure that it didn’t happen. What we see and hear happening now is the swelling redness from a still-stinging bitch slap.
By the way: stop thinking certain shit can’t happen. Global warming exists; the weather cycle truly has changed. Both Michael Jackson and Prince are gone. We’re running out of water, and that which exists we can’t always drink. These are things people never fathomed happening. Not for a while, anyway.
It’s okay to consider “the unthinkable.” Being afraid to consider the possibility of something you don’t want to see happen is often how the “unthinkable” becomes reality. It’s how people die from diseases of which they could have been cured. It is how Donald J. Trump, a demonized carnival barker who knows absolutely nothing about the job for which he applied, became president.
And if you think Trump merely being elected is the worst-case scenario–and that all we have to do is let four years blow over–then you’re already back to thinking that the unthinkable can’t happen (this is what dysfunctional people do; they accept the abnormal as normal).
As we are already witnessing during his transition to presidential power, this hole has no bottom. The man seems unable/unwilling to do anything right and believes basic rules and laws of good don’t apply to him.
Press that snooze button again. Go ahead. You’re going to wake your disinterested ass up in old Nazi Germany, or more accurately, 1950s America. STOP THINKING IT CAN’T HAPPEN. The mechanism, like a cobbled-together Frankenstein just off the operating table, is stumbling into place as you read this.
Don’t let them tell you this bullshit is some kind of noble “movement.” We know all too well what the truly disenfranchised look and feel like. This here is age-old hate. We’ve fought it forever. Face the fact that we’ll always have to be vigilant for its reared head.
The good news—-and there is plenty—-is that we are not helpless. We can be informed. We can stay on top of what is happening without losing our minds being obsessed with it.
We can engage–come out of our collective haze and get involved in our families and communities with the aim of illustrating that what is going on today in our country is NOT the new normal. It is an aberration and should always be viewed as such. We can never give up on what is right.
If blocking freeways is not your thing, there is peaceful protest. If protests are not your thing, then you can make your presence known in this country by getting involved in community projects and organizations that do good for people.
Be somebody’s bridge to something worthwhile. It’s a hell of a feeling and the deed is infectious.
Treat strangers the way you want to be treated. In the media we have seen all the things people currently do to hurt one another. However, there are also lots of people out there-—strangers—-doing kind things for other strangers, and they are going out of their way to do so (again, step out of your dysfunctional (dis)comfort zone).
Be optimistic. There is God’s might in positive thought. To use a new twist on an old cliché, love truly does trump hate. And take solid comfort in the fact that there are more of us—-more good, like-minded men and women of every persuasion, from every walk of life—-who are offended by what we are seeing than not.
Get the fuck out the house and have a good time.
We can get through this. We’ve done it before. But please don’t follow that last sentence with, “Sure, we can do it, we have no choice.” Because, we did have a choice, and either by doing the wrong thing or doing nothing, just look at what we chose.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]