I had been hoping to put together my overall thoughts on the outcome of the election, focusing on how this election was lost by Hillary Clinton. Not so much because Trump was a great candidate or because Americans were overtly racist – actually Obama has the highest approval ratings of any modern exiting president. So race is not the story. The fact of the matter is that Democrats didn’t want Hillary in 2008, and there was no new reason for a large number of Americans to suddenly want her now. The sad moral of the story was that – although one could argue that the Clinton’s did some good for the country – it was more than time for them to be retired and to just leave us all alone.
I was even going to give a few arguments about how besides Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich suddenly becoming the second and third most powerful men in the world, the country definitively becoming a police state and the end of the bill of rights as we know it, likely the country would not change course. That’s the beauty (or tragedy) of our fictional political system, something that my father-in-law graciously pointed out to me when he saw his two American grandsons and son-in-law on the morning after. Plus Trump has never kept a promise, so why would he keep his campaign promises now?
But then this morning, I started reading and hearing first-hand accounts of multiple acts of racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic acts of intimidation around the country. Things like Hispanic school kids being taunted by the classmates, chanting Build the Wall and your father is going to get deported, black women being assaulted in public by white men (with “Obama can’t help you now”), blacks and Hispanics being told to sit at the back of the bus, swastikas decorating buildings, and a Muslim American woman who got along with her neighbors for years but woke up to a sign on her lawn telling her to go back home.
If Trump had said, for example, vote for me and I will deport all Jews to Israel, and you voted for him, then I would tell you that voting for him was incompatible with our friendship. And if Trump said, as he did repeatedly, Muslims (which include my wife and children) would be banned from entering the country and you voted for him, then I would want to know why you thought that our friendship and my family were more dangerous than a Hillary presidency. Don’t tell me that Trump isn’t really going to do that. He’s already publicly said that there is something wrong with my family. Is there?
The thing is that the cruelest acts against humanity don’t happen because of isolated evil masterminds. They happen because of complacent masses looking the other way. I hate to use the Hitler analogy, but that is exactly what happened in Europe. Give the people a common cause and enemy, and they’ll commit the most atrocious acts in your name.
Of course, I am not claiming that the majority of Trump voters are deplorable, racist, xenophobic, anti-Semites. But everyone in the country who voted knew perfectly well that Trump was courting all of those extremist factions in our society, and by winning, there are Americans who now feel empowered to openly, publicly and without shame insult, intimidate and assault minorities.
Trump opened that can of worms, and if you voted for him, you have absolutely no excuse NOT to take ownership. What do Republicans call this? Personal Responsibility? So own it.
Don’t we tell Muslims that they are all collectively responsible for terrorists claiming to be Muslim? So take your own medicine and start owning up. Maybe these acts are temporary and will wane over the next few days, but they won’t until as a society we say they are unacceptable. If you voted for Trump, denounce the racism, xenophobia and antisemitism being perpetrated in your name, lest you too be a terrorist.
I apologize for beating a dead horse, but I keep hearing Trump voters saying that they should not be held accountable for the acts of other Trump supporters. But if you just voted for a guy who clearly made part of his campaign value proposition that (1) no Muslim could be trusted because a few Muslims were terrorists, and (2) Mexicans were racists, how can you now say that is it unfair to judge the whole group based on isolated actions of the few?
It’s like saying that I voted for Hitler’s Make Germany Great Again part but not the antisemitism, so you can’t blame me for the Holocaust. It doesn’t work that way. If you voted for Trump, you can’t now pick and choose what you voted for.
When I advocated for Obama in 2008, the moment he won, I immediately began criticizing those policies which I disagreed with and have done so ever since.. So if you don’t agree with the racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, then challenge the man you elected to disavow those who do or own it. It’s your country now.
To the same extent, the Democratic Party needs to take ownership of why they failed so miserably to produce an electable candidate and platform. Over 90 million eligible voters did not vote. That is the true story of this election. The DNC has some explaining to do. Those who didn’t vote also need to own this.