February 22, 2019

Politicking Me Off: Donald J. Trump’s United States of Fear

Jessica Karins

Jessica Karins

Well, we tried for eight years.

We tried, as a country, having a black president. We tried to be at peace with the idea that all American citizens deserve health care that could prevent them from dying. We tried the idea of a multicultural society and regarding women as equals and extending some rights to LGBT people.

We decided we’d rather have the guy who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

Donald Trump is the next president of the United States, and at the start of the evening, none of us believed it would happen. I don’t think even his supporters did, or the candidate himself. But the votes came in and the electoral vote totals became increasing difficult to ignore.

Whose shoulders should bear the blame for the presidency of Donald J. Trump? We can blame the man himself, for undertaking a political career instead of sticking to vaudeville showmanship. We can blame the Trump voters — and I do, every one of them. There is no excuse, not wanting to shake up Washington or preferring the devil you don’t know. You knew what you were doing and who you were hurting. You just didn’t care.

We can blame the polls and the projections, which were clearly all wrong. Trump voters were obviously reluctant to disclose their preferences, and no one could have seen that coming. We can blame the media, which saw Trump as entertainment until it was too late.

We can blame the Democratic Party establishment, which chose to promote its own most vulnerable candidate, Hillary Clinton, at the expense of all others. It also chose to promote Donald Trump himself, thinking he would be easier to defeat than a conventional Republican. They chose to offer the policies and tone of a third Obama administration rather than a new alternative. They were wrong.

The Democratic Party does not understand what’s happening to politics today; it has that in common with the Republican Party. Both of their futures are uncertain, but they hardly matter anymore. In the coming months and years, there will be only Trump and the opposition to Trump.

America is afraid, but the reality is that this election is not unique. Every election is marked by fear. This is a difference of degree, not kind. We have made ourselves a country where half of the population lives in fear of the electoral whims of the other half, where young people define themselves in opposition to the political principles of their elders, where a person’s race still gives you too much information about their economic status and how they will vote.

This is likely to be the last election like this, and Donald Trump is likely to be both the first and last president of his kind. The demographics are shifting. We know that the future belongs to the young and the non-white and the female. That is something which the elderly, male and white will clearly never make peace with. They’re going down fighting, but in the long term, we’ll win.

For four more years, though, we will struggle against the agenda of a man who wants nothing more than to change that. For four more years, we will put aside our grand ambitions, our boldest policy proposals and our greatest hopes for ourselves and for America and struggle just to survive.

We will get up, and dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward. But we’ve lost so much tonight. More than anything else, this is a moment to mourn.

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