One of the greatest gifts of Democracy is the right to peaceful protest. If you live in the US, you can’t escape what’s happening in our country, a division like no other. If you live outside of the US and you’re watching the news you’re probably thinking, what the hell, America?!
The outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign has caused a Grand Canyon sized rift in the US that will be felt for generations to come. Protestors have taken to the streets and the movement has grown organically. But, from where I sit it is not for the reasons some may think.
I am guilty, once again, of political writing here on our site but I hope you will bear with me. I am experiencing what I can only define as a visceral reaction to the election results and for those of us who write, the pen (or the keyboard) is our sword, our outlet for our voice.
Yesterday, I read a comment in a Facebook conversation thread that read, “As long as they don’t close Disneyland, my America is still just fine.” I’m hoping this was just a flippant comment but I found myself irrationally angry because it is not a time for flippancy. And, I fear this flippant remark is a symptom of our country’s complacency – why only half of our population turned out to vote. That’s right, only half of the people in this country used their democratic right to vote, and half of that half, voted for a person who ran one of the most vile campaigns in US history. And, once again, the candidate who won the popular vote is not taking office.
Since I’ve gone ahead and dived in to the political pool, I might as well swim to the deep end and share that I am about as far left politically as one can find oneself, but here’s the thing… when George W. Bush won the presidency, I was disappointed, sad and probably a bit angry. But I was never afraid. I never had the visceral reaction that I am currently experiencing.
Over the past few days I’ve read many posts across social media telling the democrats to shut up and move on, get over it, etc. I’ve listened to elected officials that I respect telling the country it’s time to heal. It’s all good in theory, but this wound will not heal. And, from where I sit, the reason it will not heal is because it is not an issue of red or blue or libertarian or green or purple. It’s an issue of human decency.
While I respect everyone’s freedom of choice, I cannot turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to excusing the inexcusable. From where I sit, protestors in the streets are not angry because a Republican won, they are angry because a person who ran on a platform of hate and bigotry and fear has been elected to the presidency. Protestors are angry because those who chose to support him chose to support all of his ideologies. His bigotry cannot be overlooked for the promise of jobs. He was (is) a package deal. Protestors are angry because the US will soon have a government without checks and balances for a minimum of 4 years. Protestors are angry because children in schools are crying, worried their parents will be deported, and protestors are angry because hate crimes are on the rise at an alarming rate.
All this and so much more, this is why protestors are angry and taking to the streets of America.
I’m pissed off with Americans right now.
With all the anger towards Trump, all the indignation by women and minorities, only 55% of eligible voters bothered to actually voted. The lowest turnout in 20 years according to CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/11/politics/popular-vote-turnout-2016/
The first comment is typical, too busy to vote during the week (love Linda’s reply to that). I remember someone had once commented that Americans are more likely to watch American Idol than bother to vote.
I wrote about Trump a week before the vote, saying that the man is pretty much vile and that Americans better watch out because there was a complacency that he wouldn’t get in. I called it over 6 months ago, saying he would be voted in because his supporters are angry and would do all it takes to get off their butts and vote for him. Whether you like him or not, he’s inspired a lot of people. Clinton supporters on the other hand didn’t have the same passion and you would have thought they’d be equally motivated not to have Trump elected…well, didn’t happen. And I think for any non-Americans looking in (like me) we’re wondering what’s wrong with you people. After more than a year of this campaign, after all the protests and anger against Trump, how can the voter turnout have been at a 20 year low??
The Canadian immigration site crashed on election night because of Americans thinking Canada could be an option. I’m sorry, Canadians not feeling much sympathy right now (and for those still thinking of it I think this article from one of Canada’s largest newsmagazines says it all: http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/sorry-americans-youre-just-not-our-type/)
I had someone yesterday blame it on the Electoral College and I hear people are now protesting the system in the US. Well, Trump didn’t just win the Electoral College, he won the popular vote as well. As I responded yesterday “Trump might not represent the majority, but he represents the majority who bothered to vote”.
I think the only hope is that Trump might not be as bad as promised. His campaign incited the lowest common denominator. Now that he’s in he’s actually going to have to govern. Say what you will about him, he’s not a complete idiot. I don’t think he’ll be building a Mexican wall or penalizing women who want abortions or persecuting minorities. He might actually act as a president should. Does it change my opinion? No. The fact that he got in power saying the stuff he did says all you need to know about him.
Anyway, back to the heading. People can protest all they want. But in the end if you’re going to be in a democracy you have to vote. If you don’t well, you have to live with the consequences.
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What can I tell you, Frank, it’s true. Complacency reigns supreme in the US and it’s disgusting. And, it’s why SO many of us are infuriated with said complacency. Not excusing the complacency, because it’s a very real problem, the other contribution is that our system makes it very difficult for people to get to the polls. And, these tactics can be seen as intentional. I understand the premise of the electoral college, but the entire system is flawed and calling out against the electoral college is not new to this election.
I agree with you in that he is not stupid, in some aspects he was brilliant and knew “exactly’ what he was doing. He tapped into a segment of the country that so many couldn’t fathom. Both political parties hold responsibility for his rise as well. As for his presidency, there are ways in which his mandates will be reigned in, such as the realities of building a wall, health care, foreign policies, etc., he’s already back pedaling like crazy, but beyond those things, it’s him. Who he is. What he represents. Who he surrounds himself with. Those are the tell tale signs of his presidency. People are genuinely afraid.
Hillary did win the majority vote. The NY Times is reporting that by the time all of the votes are counted, Hillary will come out nearly 2 million votes ahead. Another point of frustration with the system, Hillary won the election but he won the electoral college which lends itself to people thinking, why should I vote? It’s a vicious cycle.
What I’m hoping is that the eyes of the world won’t lump us all into the same pool as that’s an unfair assessment and it’s too easy to sit in judgement when you’re not living it. The US is a massive country and having driven across the country 4 times and visiting 47 of the states, I have been saying for years that I can’t imagine the country being anything but divided. Which is a sad state of affairs, but there you go.
I like these video that you have shared. So interesting!
Thank you, Terry, I appreciate that so much.
Like so many others, I am still in shock and still in mourning. I also voted absentee because I live in Mexico. As you can imagine, there is a lot of fear here right now. But what has surprised me most is the kindness I still encounter here every day. Instead of accusing or asking unanswerable questions, Mexicans I meet tell me they don’t believe all Americans are bad. They hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That is part of why I live here… these wonderful, loving, warm people.
I can only imagine but I’m not at all surprised by the warmth you’ve received. It’s a very scary time for all of us right now. Stay strong!
I feel betrayed by friends and family who voted for him, and I am angry at those who either did not vote or threw their vote away on someone who had no chance of winning. I am sad and having a very difficult time looking at neighbors and strangers the same way I did a week ago. I just want to shake them all, individually, and ask, “What were you thinking?” Apparently he is now back-peddling on several campaign promises, so my next question will be, “How do you like him now?”
It’s an extraordinary time in our country, Vicky. I empathize with what you’re experiencing, but please know that you are not alone. There are many of us who are looking for a way to channel our emotions and frustrations and who are looking for a way to bring balance back to our lives.
The not voting part truly angers me. There is no excuse, even if the process could be more friendly. Although I don’t agree with the outcome I will not judge. At least not yet anyway.
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I am guilty of judging, Gaelyn. I wish I could say I’m not, but I own it. It’s just one of the many issues I’m struggling with as I process the emotional turmoil.
I’m working my way through the “How could they?” in my mind. It behooves us to figure that out, just like it behooved us to understand Black Lives Matter. After all, this is the same country that elected Barack Obama twice. Meanwhile, I still can’t sleep, haven’t yet regained my appetite and will go buy some safety pins today.
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At this point I feel as if I’ll be working through it for 4 years and I’m currently trying to figure out how to live with the reality – and eating too much chocolate. WAY too much chocolate. Turns out there is such a thing.
I think the essential point in your post Patti boiled down to this most important phrase that “… those who chose to support him chose to support all of his ideologies.” This is what I cannot get over: the fact that essentially decent people chose to close their eyes to the people promoting racism, sexism, hate-speak, religious intolerance and even the right to free speech I have to disagree with those people who feel that since I’ve chosen to live outside the US (and yes, I voted by absentee ballot in 2012 and 2016) that I must not really “care” but this election has an impact worldwide. Like you, although I didn’t vote for either Bush, I never felt the anxiety and dread that I feel now. In countries where George Bush stirred up anti-American sentiment, Obama followed with a message of hope and healing. Things haven’t been perfect during Obama’s administration but I fear that we’re going to look back on this time as our second “Camelot.”
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I absolutely agree with you, Anita and Patti! Some people I know voted for Trump as CHRISTIANS, because he’s anti-abortion. But, they were able to ignore every other heinous part of his campaign, beliefs, treatment of other human beings?! REALLY?!?! How people can sleep at night with that as their justification for voting for him is beyond my comprehension, and always will be. That’s a wound that will never heal, no matter what.
For me, Cindy, that is one of the most difficult aspects of this election for me to process. I applaud the strength of conviction, but at what cost?
I believe expats such as yourself, Anita, can offer a unique perspective in this situation because you are still deeply rooted to this country, while at the same time having the opportunity to view it from outside of the box, so-to-speak. The results have not only divided a nation, they’ve left the world stunned.
It was the same with Brexit, many people did not vote in particular the young who were in fact against Brexit. It is infuriating and we are all very scared, worried, bewildered. But like you said protesting is a democratic right we should not stop using. The only consolation is that in 4 years you get a chance to get rid of him.
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Brexit rocked the world, no one wanted to believe it just like no one wants to believe this just happened in the US. There are definite comparisons to the supporters of both.
My husband had a business trip during the voting day so we did absentee. First time ever. We love going to the polls and taking responsibility for our wonderful lives. When you enjoy the rights, you take the responsibility.
We are now in Australia. People here are scared to death. They don’t understand how so many people could be fooled so easily. Are Trumpers really that selfish? Do they not care about people other than themselves?
Those are hard questions to answer, I can only imagine how the world is viewing this.
Why only a half of Americans voted? Because the system makes it hard on them. Move the election to a Sunday and the outcome will be greater. But making people wait in line for hours while they don’t get paid is a big turn off. The system of voting here in the US is not voter friendly. I start to believe this is intended…
That’s a very fair assessment, Dagmar. The system is archaic and as you say, not user friendly and sadly, many people do not believe their vote matters, which it does. In this election, as in many others, I believe complacency also came into play as it was too easy for people to just say they didn’t like either candidate. Thanks for reading.
So many people in our country have DIED so that we are free to express our vote. Are you kidding? Get off your lazy **** and go do the right thing. There is no excuse for not voting. I really didn’t love either candidate but I did my duty as an American.
Linda Baxter, I got my lazy **** off and voted. I just understand why many don’t.
Linda & Dagmar: I came across this comment today on a FB post, it’s one man’s opinion as to why he didn’t vote.
“I’m a Gay Veteran and I didn’t vote for any of them because my conscience would not allow me vote for the lesser of anything, especially since none of them have mine or anyone I know best interest at heart. Self governance is the way to go. I don’t need a leader. Why do you.”
It’s that kind of thinking that puts people like Trump in power. “Self governance”, what does that even mean? People have to get themselves educated.It’s like the guy on my blog who wrote “the POTUS nowadays has become a mere figurehead, so it’s unimportant”.
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