So, Trump Won — Now, What the Fuck Do We do?
The unthinkable happened. Now, what do we do?
Two voices are whispering inside my head.
The first voice tells me to start kicking ass. Now, it’s “payback time.” We’d be perfectly justified in taking our revenge on the political Right for behaving like deranged psychopaths over the past eight years, in short, giving them a bitter taste of their own medicine for the despicable way they’ve treated President Obama, a wise and good man.
From day one in 2009, the Right refused to do its job and govern. They began by questioning the president’s legitimacy. They’ve claimed he’s a Muslim. They accused him of being a Marxist. They knowingly invented falsehoods and spread lies about him. They’ve opposed every major policy he’s proposed since taking office. And today, president-elect Donald Trump and the rabid Right have the audacity to request that we curtsy and unite as one nation behind the new leader?
Two words immediately come to mind: Not happening.
Actually, the first two words that popped into my head were, “Fuck you.” But, I’m trying to be nice.
The other voice is a faint whisper. It calmly reminds me that it’s our nature as people of compassion to be better than our surroundings. To change something, one must remain civil and reject our most primordial instincts.
Indeed, I do ache for the opportunity to rise above the repugnant tactics used (successfully) by our opponents. I long for what’s become a bygone era of American politics when discussing alternative points of view was civil, and often even constructive for both parties. I want desperately to be part of a new national dialogue on the major issues of our time. I seriously want to listen to many of those with whom I strongly disagree, but still might learn something from when we engage in mindful thought. While the Right never gave President Obama this same courtesy, not on any level, not once, I do hold myself and ourselves on the Left to a much higher standard of conduct than those misguided by fear, ignorance, and even hate.
In short, I do not want to act like them, because to do so is to become them. Such would be our own downfall.
So, which voice should we listen to and follow? Which is the optimal approach for the future of our movement and the direction of the country? Bold obstructionism versus calm and constructive engagement? That’s the question we Liberals should be asking ourselves, right now.
I suspect most readers will agree that civility is usually the better of two choices. While Donald Trump has not yet earned my trust, nor my confidence, he was indeed elected. He might not merit my respect, but the office he holds does. We must somehow learn to deal with reality.
As Liberals, it’s our nature to compromise in order to resolve conflicts. As proponents of government being a force for good both in society and the world, that’s an essential component of being progressive. We must listen. We must try to learn. And, we must compromise when given the opportunity to make some advances where we can.
That said, it’s not just difficult, but IMPOSSIBLE to compromise on some guiding principles. I’m talking about protecting the rights of women and the right to chose, which is now in serious jeopardy with three potential Supreme Court appointments by President Trump. I’m talking about not only tolerating, but embracing racial and cultural diversity and even differences as a healthy thing. I’m talking about making sure sick people aren’t dying in the streets because they’ve lost their access to health care, given the president-elect’s threat to overturn the Obamacare. I’m talking about standing up tall to warmongers who profit from a ceaseless string of international conflicts from which there appears to be no exit. I’m talking about fighting against the big banks and crony corporatism, which wield way too much power and seek to enslave us all to debt. I’m talking about acknowledging that climate change is real and a danger to the planet. I’m talking about standing up for the rights of those who cannot stand on their own, and whose voices are faint echoes, desperate cries for justice in the night sky. These issues must always be non-negotiable.
So, as we try and take our first baby steps following being knocked to the ground and attempt to move ahead, I expect to continuously be guided by these two opposing voices. One voice requires me to fiercely defend myself and my compatriots against what we perceive to be a serious threat to our future. The other voice which reminds me to always try and listen, and attempt to deal with concepts which I may find objectionable, but which merit consideration.
We can indeed be better people than the wicked who proceeded us and poisoned the political path towards progress. There will come times for fights and times for compromise. In order to know which is which, there must be time for discussion.
I suspect many of you out there are also struggling with this, hearing different voices of guidance. What path will you choose? What’s next?