“When they go low, we go high!” are the wise words of First Lady Michelle Obama, exclaimed during a moving speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in July. These words echoed in my head each day as I read about or listened to the racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic rhetoric used by a certain presidential and their surrogates.
I found comfort in Mrs. Obama’s words. And in my heart, I believed that America was better than the harmful, divisive things said on a campaign watched closely by the entire world. I believed this until Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
Since Election Day, I’ve been trying to piece together feelings about this country and the person this country voted to have as its president: a person who embodies bigotry and fuels hate. Someone who has not exhibited the slightest candor or even a basic understanding of the United States Constitution. Someone who has shown little respect to minorities and women.
I’m tired of going high when they go low.
This election was much more than Republican versus Democrat. There was a lot at stake and a lot of progress that is now threatened. There are now people who are weary and fearful of what the future will entail–the exact opposite of what selecting a new president should feel like.
I am angry not just with who the president will now be, but also because I trusted that America was better than what it chose. I trusted that we all wanted better lives for everyone around us and not just for those who look like us. I thought that we were a country of unity and inclusiveness. How naïve.
Now, I do not think that President Obama was the perfect president. And I don’t think that Secretary Clinton was the perfect candidate, either. But the signs of hope and progress that I once saw are no longer visible. I do not see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I believe that America will soon see the damage it has done. This presidency, paired with the Republican control of both the House and Senate, will have damning consequences that will be felt much longer than four or eight years.
The next president may also have the ability to select up to three Supreme Court justices. For those who don’t know, justices have lifetime tenure and aren’t replaced until they either retire or die. Therefore, rather than having a balanced court with justices that represent the differing views of the country, we could end up with an extremely conservative court that allows legislation that weakens us and reverses legislation that protects us. We do not have a representative government. What checks and balances?
You may now see a resurgence of stop-and-frisk and racial profiling. Minorities, Muslims and immigrant populations will be targeted. There may also be less government oversight in needed areas (like policing) and less consumer protection. Women’s reproductive rights are threatened. Healthcare reform is also very much endangered, despite the president-elect now saying that it “very much” likes some parts of it. Do not be fooled. The key provisions that citizens love about the Affordable Care Act, like not being dropped from insurance due to a pre-existing condition, cannot exist without parts that Republicans vow to gut. I would love to see our healthcare system improved and not reversed. The goals should be to lower costs, protect those insured and increase access to every person in the country.
I am also disgusted with the media that, from the beginning, gave that campaign so much attention, legitimized it and allowed it to control them like puppets. And now the same media are working overtime to normalize the president-elect, expecting us to forget the abuse we’ve endured over the last 18 months.
Do I believe that all of the president-elect’s supporters are racist? Or sexist? Or homophobic? Or xenophobic? Well, I don’t know. I think you are an accessory to the crime. You support these things and I can’t recognize a difference.
With this presidency, there will be winners and losers. Unfortunately, if you are a woman, a minority, an immigrant and/or poor, you may be of the latter. However, I’m trying to find comfort in knowing that for most of us, if you win, I win. If you fail, we’ll fail together. I am angry, but I’m ready to fight for my future. No one will stop me from being excellent. But, my God, we are taking the ultimate gamble using our lives as poker chips.
Editor’s note: If this essay finds you upset, pray about it. That’s all I’m gonna do, anyway.