In the wake of last week's devastating election results, I and many others, especially those in minority populations hated and derided by Donald Trump and his alt-right and Christofascist supporters, continue to feel as if we are lost in a nightmare and cannot wake up to re-find normalcy. Meanwhile, the statements from friends, some of whom have shown their duplicity by voting for Trump, tell us to "give him a chance," "it will all be OK," and other platitudes that are easy to say if one is a white, heterosexual Christian. Adding to the surreal nature of the situation are all of the strained relationships with "friends" that will never be fully trusted again. What does one do to move forward? A piece in Mother Jones lays out the approach that the husband and I have decided to adopt: hope for the best but expect and plan for the worse. Here are some article highlights on where to go from here:
CNN commentator Van Jones has been a leading voice for progressivism, a smart critic of failings within the Democratic Party, and an unflinching tribune against the bigotry exhibited by the Donald Trump campaign. On election night, Jones—co-founder of Color for Change and president of the social justice incubator Dream Corps—spoke for many when he said that parents who'd told their kids not to be bullies or bigots were dreading how to explain the outcome to them in the morning.
On Friday, I spoke with Van Jones about where we go from here.
Clara Jeffery: On election night, you said it was pretty clear that this was a "whitelash" against not only Barack Obama, but also due to the unease that whites have of losing their demographic choke hold.
Van Jones: That part got the most attention because I was the only person on national TV willing to call out the elephant in the room. The vast majority of white people voted for Trump, and the vast majority of people of color didn't. . . . in a race where even Paul Ryan said there were textbook examples of racism coming out of the mouth of the Republican nominee, we have to accept that some very toxic stuff was marbled into the Trump phenomenon.
Now, the Trump phenomenon has a lot of really good stuff in it, the anti-elitism, the concern for America's economy in the Rust Belt, the desire to see better days for the country. That's all great stuff. Some of that stuff is Bernie Sanders stuff. The problem is that it's marbled through with xenophobia and misogyny and bigotry.
Now I think liberals have gone from underreacting to Trump and saying that Trump is just a clown and a buffoon, and that Hillary Clinton's going to kick his ass, to now overreacting, and saying, "Oh my God, 60 million people consciously endorsed a white supremacist for president."
Neither of those are true, okay? I put out a video on MoveOn.org explaining how Trump was going to beat us. I had insufferably arrogant people from across the Democratic establishment and innumerable regular NPR liberals tell me I was crazy.
Now, these same people are completely panicked and they think that Trump has power he doesn't have. Trump is holding together the shakiest coalition that you could conceivable govern on. It is a conservative, populist alliance that agrees with itself on very little.
Civil liberties, immigration, there's a whole bunch of terrible stuff to come. But this idea that 60 million people all want to join the Klan and now have absolute control of all three branches of government and that America's over is just ridiculous.
CJ: But we have seen attacks on people all over the country, people who are Muslim or Latino or whatever. What should our level of panic be about Trump supporters who think they have permission to act like that.
VJ: One, we should take it very, very seriously. We are on track now for a tragedy. There will be a Muslim Trayvon Martin within the next six months on our present trajectory. Some completely innocent Muslim, possibly a female, who gets gravely injured, if not killed, by somebody who feels empowered by white nationalist extremes of the Trump phenomenon. So we should take it very seriously.
Number two, we need to try to get as specific and concrete as we can and gather the evidence, because one or two stories circulate on Facebook, bounce a thousand times, and it can sometimes feel like there's more going on than there is. We want to make sure we're accurate in what we're describing.
Number three, we need to put pressure on Trump, to speak out very forcefully that he's the president of all Americans including Muslims, and that his administration, including his law enforcement, is going to take very, very seriously any crimes against any Americas based on their race or their faith, including Muslims. He needs to send that signal very, very soon and very, very clearly. Otherwise, he's going to be seen as culpable. And his silence may be interpreted as encouragement, rightly or wrongly.
I think we have every reason to hope for the best but expect and prepare for the worst. It is conceivable that maybe he won't feel the need to throw so much raw meat at his base and might govern reasonably, but it seems more likely that he'll follow the usual pattern of demagogues. The usual pattern of demagogues is to promise the moon, fail to deliver, and then blame vulnerable others for those failures. He's promised the moon. Now he has power. He's going to fail to deliver. He's not going to be able to bring a bunch of coal jobs back and a bunch of factory jobs back in this global economy. Period. Because you can't. It's not going to happen.
When he fails to deliver and the economic pain is the same as it is right now, he'll have two choices. He's going to have to spend a bunch of money on infrastructure jobs, which, frankly, I'm not mad at. . . . . Then he's going to start blaming people. He's going to start a war, he's going to start attacking immigrants or Muslims or Black Lives Matter or whatever. Because he's going to have to distract them from the no jobs. I think we have every reason to hope for the best but to expect and prepare for the worst.
This is the first election we ever went through where an enemy deliberately disrupts our democracy, and everybody keeps acting like it didn't happen. The Russians have had and continue to have an active program to undermine American society, and a part of that was accelerating all this online stuff. It hacked the DNC but not the RNC. We've never seen Donald Trump's email. All of this stuff was part of the disruption, so yeah, there were some Bernie bros who were saying bad stuff, some horrible behavior. I'm not trying to excuse it, but what I am saying is that… We're in the middle of a cyberwar with Russia. Yes, there was terrible behavior from some Sanders people. But Hillary Clinton was almost certainly going to be the nominee. I think they really misread the Sanders voters.
This is a horrific setback—there's going to be horrible consequences for a generation or more. The country may never fully recover from this, but it's not all bad and it's not over yet, and the American people may recover their senses.
First of all, almost half the people didn't vote at all. Of the half that did vote, Hillary got more votes, and of the people who voted for Trump, only probably 10 percent of them endorsed all this crazy stuff; the other 40 percent were just giving a middle finger to either Hillary Clinton, DC, or PC stuff run amok, whatever that means to them. . . . That's a lot of people who cannot be rationally included in the Trump camp at all.
Hopefully this will open up our eyes to how fragile democracy is and how key civility is to civilization. Civility isn't just some optional value in a multicultural, multistate democratic republic. Civility is the key to civilization. Everybody got through it with their kids as best they could. If you're a Muslim parent, if you're a Latino parent, you're still going through it. For the rest of us who have a little bit of privilege, maybe we should be a little bit more tender-hearted.