By the time I heard Florida was going to be a nail-biter I couldn’t stay awake any longer. I’d been sick for a few days and I went to sleep before the results were in. I woke up in a bizarro world. It’s cliche, but I truly — briefly — wondered if I was dreaming. Donald Trump is now President-Elect of the United States. I am ashamed to admit that I was surprised.
Trump, and the mad party he heads and represents, will soon control the highest office in the land, the Senate and the House of Representatives.
With his inauguration, Donald Trump will have the power to dictate the composition of the Supreme Court, which will be the final arbiter of the law for an entire generation of Americans. This colluding combination threatens a century of hard-fought gains in social, environmental and economic justice.
The only fact from November 8th, 2016 that redeems the American people is that Donald Trump did not receive the majority of the votes cast. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which means a narrow majority of us rejected Trump. Just as in 2000, the Electoral College, an arcane vestige of aristocratic tyranny, failed the people and has forced upon us a leader we did not choose.
We must acknowledge that the Democratic Party has failed us miserably. We have to accept the fact that our political system compels us to choose between two and only two candidates. Refusing to cast a vote for one of the two doesn’t make a statement, it’s childish. It’s giving up your say in how we govern ourselves to the idiot next door. Our system is by design a winner-take-all, first-past-the-post electoral system. There is no such thing as a viable third party. We simply do not have a three party system, and any effort to establish a third party will be short-lived and self-destructive. Contrary to what the two parties will tell you, a political party in the US is not just a group of citizens working together for a common goal. The two parties are enshrined in the laws of all 50 states. They are the de jure, not merely de facto holders of the reins of power. Given the current laws, the only way to gain control of the government is through one of the two parties.
True progressives must accept that the anger of the Trump voter is valid. It is misdirected and unfocused, but it is an understandable response to an economic system that has abandoned them and sacrificed them in the name of corporate profits for over forty years. We must reclaim the Democratic Party, and purge from it the mindless, privileged, self-important peacocks who have piloted it straight into the ground. Democrats forgot the lesson of Lincoln and Obama, and battered each other ruthlessly in the primary. The faction that emerged on top limped towards the general election weakened, but without humility. Instead of working to forge a grand alliance to unify the party and prevent this yahoo reality, the egos of the Democratic Party elites permitted the Republican Party to be the sole beneficiary of the unfocused anti-establishment anger.
This election has the potential to put us on the darkest of all possible paths. However, the future is not written, and all the horrible outcomes we have imagined have not yet come to pass. We still have decisions to make and actions to take.
Things look very bleak right now, and I know that if Trump’s actions bear any resemblance to his stated goals and rhetoric, then I must oppose him and everyone who supports him. This is still my country, and I’m not leaving it to the wolves.