“And so the man who thought he was through with politics has, it turns out, one more essential role left: Beginning next year, Obama needs to rally the opposition, to community-organize his coalition, and to exploit his celebrity to make the case for saving his legacy. His visibility alone would serve a vital function. Trump’s election has sent a statement to Americans and the world about the country’s identity. It has been received viscerally, by bullies abusing minorities as well as by fearful allies overseas. Obama is a powerful symbol of rationalism, thoughtfulness, and pluralism — the ultimate anti-Trump, both ideologically and symbolically. Women, religious minorities, immigrants and prospective immigrants, transgender people, young Africans with iPhones, the beat-down opposition in places like Russia and China, and the people who bully all the preceding groups and more — the whole planet, really — need reminding that Obama’s version of America has prevailed before and will prevail again.”
. . .
“Trump’s election is one of the greatest disasters in American history. It is worth recalling, however, that history is punctuated with disasters, yet the country is in a better place now than it was a half-century ago, and a better place than a half-century before that, and so on. Despair is a counterproductive response. So is denial — an easy temptation in the wake of the inevitable postelection pleasantries and displays of respect needed to maintain the peaceful transfer of power. The proper response is steely resolve to wage the fight of our lives.”
“My grandmother’s fear saved the family. My grandfather’s sweet confidence and optimism would have killed them.
So when you tell me, a noted soother and calmer of others, that I should tell Muslims and women and people of color that they have nothing to fear from Trump, I think that perhaps you want me to be like my grandfather.
And I think that perhaps for once in my life, I am not going to counsel calm and preach perspective and rally the kids for sixteen comforting verses of Kumbaya.
People are scared. They have every right to be. Trump’s words speak of an intent to violate fundamental liberties; Trump’s words inveigle violence; Trump’s words abrogate a social contract that says that we should quietly respect election results.
Perhaps Trump will be a better leader than we thought. The burden is entirely on him to prove that his campaign was an act, and that he and his followers pose no threat to women and minorities. Until then, suspicion. Until then, fear. Until then, anger.
Until then, I’m thinking like Elsa, not Georg.”
“Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either. Failure to imagine the future may have lost the Democrats this election. They offered no vision of the future to counterbalance Trump’s all-too-familiar white-populist vision of an imaginary past. They had also long ignored the strange and outdated institutions of American democracy that call out for reform—like the electoral college, which has now cost the Democratic Party two elections in which Republicans won with the minority of the popular vote. That should not be normal. But resistance—stubborn, uncompromising, outraged—should be.”
Protesters outside Trump Tower the day after the election, New York City, November 9, 2016
I’m not thinking about going anywhere. Maybe this is surprising because of the already large increase in reported hate incidents since the election. Maybe this is surprising because I am the child of a refugee from the Nazis who managed to escape just in time whose parents were not able to leave because they left it until it was just too late. Despite all this and the dark reality we have arrived in and the previously unimaginable darkness ahead of us I am not thinking of leaving and these are the reasons why:
- Because dissent and bearing witness to injustice is a patriotic duty and expressing love for your country is something that you do when it is hard and not just when things are going well for you.
- Because if the idea of inclusiveness, of full citizenship for all and not just for the members of one ethnic / national group, dies here where it was created, then it dies everywhere. Then there is ultimately nowhere safe to go to, or at least nowhere to go to where it will be possible to live without a permanently packed bag.
- Because leaving and running to somewhere we feel is safe is a privilege that is not shared by tens of millions of less privileged vulnerable Americans who are counting on us to to stand by them and speak out with them.
- Because when the Nazis came for my family they were vulnerable because no one was left to stand by them.
- Because as Americans we have the example of our forbears who have stood against much greater darkness in the past who did not run and doubled down to force a flawed nation to try harder to live up to its founding principles.
There may be a time to leave – My family should have run much sooner – But this is not it.
We stay because we have the example of the descendents of enslaved people who maintained their dignity as human beings through centuries of racial injustice and stood up and marched and bore witness to injustice and awoke the conscience of a nation.
We stay because they did this in the face of solid organized state repression, Hoover’s FBI, lynchings, bombings of churches and other acts of domestic terrorism and the original overwhelming indifference of the majority of white America.
If they could rise up and stare down what they faced then and bear witness to injustice then what we are being asked to do now and what we are facing ahead of us are small things. We stay.
“I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.
“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.
“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.
“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.
“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.
“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.
“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”
“But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.
We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.”