I always used to pity people who had bumper stickers from losing political campaigns on their cars. I always assumed that if a cause was doomed, I'd be canny enough to avoid plastering my vehicle with a daily reminder of failure. But to be perfectly honest, I was not canny enough at all.
People like me made several errors in judgment throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. Our two biggest faults were as follows: underestimating the appeal of coded white supremacy to disenchanted white folks, and assuming that Trump's endless stream of scandals, gaffes, and ill-considered impulses would matter in the slightest. As to the former, that was unforgivably short-sighted. As to the latter, who could blame us? Usually, when a candidate behaves as barbarously as Donald Trump, they fail. But then again, few in recent memory ever have behaved as barbarously as Donald Trump.
As results were returned on Tuesday night and it became increasingly clear that something was dreadfully wrong, I felt intense waves of anxiety pulsing through my heart. It hit me that with Trump in the White House, a Republican-dominated House and Senate, and the prospect of multiple nominations for the Supreme Court, the nation was soon to find itself walking a tightrope without a net. A lot of people are going to find themselves vulnerable, and suffering, in the coming months. All this from the election of a man who could not even achieve a plurality in the popular vote.
I felt sick to my stomach. And a precious few hours later, I had to wake up, drive to school, and teach a lesson on just what the hell happened to a class of confused and dismayed children. Maybe I'm lucky that my students are, by and large, anti-Trump. It spared me the pain of facing my tormentors directly. But as comfortable as my classroom walls made me feel, I never forgot that a house with Trump/Pence signs and a Confederate flag stood just a short walk up the road.
I've been critical and supportive of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Right now, I sympathize with them completely, as I can only imagine that this turn of events has left them both feeling lost and humiliated. Obama's legacy is complicated and imperfect, but it was won with the best of intentions; now, all of its most admirable points are in danger of being swept aside. It kills me to think that what good came of his historic presidency could be lost; it pains me to think of how Clinton might have improved it.
This is not to say that all is lost, and that we should lay down and die. The only thing that can save us from being run over by a Republican agenda is concerted citizen action on the issues that matter most. I contributed to the Clinton campaign; from now on, I will be contributing to Planned Parenthood, to protect the health and rights of women from a man who thinks he's entitled to their bodies at his pleasure. I'll teach my heart out on the issues that matter most. And two years from now, I'll vote to support a Democratic effort to retake the U.S. Congress.
Donald Trump and his contempt for the rule of law are a direct threat to our constitution and our country. But as long as we hold dear to what matters, we have a chance to turn things around.