It has been a dark couple of days.
Donald Trump has now been elected the 45th President of the United States. He will be the 44th white man to occupy this office and the only one to do so after receiving a Stone Cold stunner.
He will become the only President-elect to have more open lawsuits against him than California’s electoral votes combined. He will be testifying in court for one of them later this month about how his Ponzi scheme of a university defrauded hundreds of naive people.
No presidential candidate in the history of the United States has ever come into office with so many conflicts of interest, many of which have him indebted to foreign, state-owned businesses in countries that aren’t exactly friendly with America. Nor has any candidate ever come into office after displaying this level of utter stupidity, blatant racism and misogyny, lack of regard for civility or civil rights and criminal, disgusting behaviour.
This isn’t even getting to his policy proposals, which if enacted will almost certainly destroy the poor and working class, create a Stasi-like deportation force, blow up the deficit, turn American Foreign Policy into a disaster, destroy any hope of successfully dealing with climate change, make 22 million Americans lose access to healthcare, walk back LGBTQ rights and significantly increase hate crimes, particularly against Muslims. Not to mention the appointment of odious characters like Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Jeff Sessions or his call for the U.S. military to commit war crimes.
I am disgusted.
I am furious that almost half the country I grew up looking up to — that my grandfather, parents, brother, friends and extended family embraced and admired even as we lived our lives in India — has voted for someone unfit to be the leader of a Cub Scout troop.
I am even more furious that this pathetic excuse for a man is President, despite the fact that Secretary Clinton clearly defeated him in the popular vote. The vote of millions of people of color in California matters less than the vote of some pissed-off white dudes in Wisconsin. I am deeply saddened that my fellow millennials and people of color did not turn out to stop this thoroughly unqualified man from getting any nearer the Presidency than the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
I have no sympathy for the Greens or Libertarians, who vacuumed up precious votes in critical states that could have prevented this madman from becoming President. And I am astounded by the level of blatant voter suppression that went on in a number of swing states.
Thanks, White America. You’ve really done it this time. You’ve decided to vote for a goddamn meme over the most qualified presidential nominee in U.S. history. You voted for a lying scumbag who spent the better part of the last eight years trying to undermine our first black president’s identity with a crackpot conspiracy theory. I hope you’re proud of yourself. Because no one else is. Except for such kindred spirits as Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Rodrigo Duterte and ISIS.
The entire media and political establishment have been engaged in frantic soul-searching and a post-mortem about what went wrong with the election. Many commentators and politicians have said that we must “come together as a nation“ and reach out to those who feel “left behind“ from globalization. So are many of my friends and acquaintances on social media.
With all due respect to President Obama, Senator Sanders, Secretary Clinton, my friends and the New York Times Opinions Section, I call BS.
I do not plan to unite with the white supremacists that crawled out of the woodwork to support a candidate that ran on a platform of taking America back to its deplorable past. I reject the tired narrative of this being only an angry cry for help from communities left behind by globalization. While economic anxiety is clearly a part of the puzzle, it’s pretty clear that this was not the driving force behind his almost completely white voter base. Hell, it’s right there in his message: deport the illegals, ban the Muslims, make America great again. It’s right there in their angry voices, just aching to throw things around and bring down the “establishment.”
To paraphrase Langston Hughes, America was never great to people like me. Until now. Until fair immigration laws, strong civil rights enforcement and a shift to an open, welcoming, cosmopolitan culture allowed people like my parents and I to come here, study at the best universities in the world and create lives for ourselves in a closer, freer, more connected planet.
Sixty years ago, people who looked like me would almost never have been given a seat at the table. Even today, neither Congress nor Big Business fully reflect the new, colorful demographics of this country. Nevertheless, women and ethnic minorities today are visibly represented in the workforce, in politics and in positions of power like never before.
Trump’s victory was a whitelash against all that. It was an open signal that we globalized, diverse elites need not be respected; half the country voted for a man who sexually harassed his female employees, tried to destroy a federal judge’s credibility because he was of Mexican origin and called for an entire religion of mainly brown people to be banned from this country.
Donald Trump’s victory has shown that it doesn’t matter if you studied hard, stayed out of trouble and got a good job. In the eyes of him and his supporters, all the uppity women and people of color need to be put in their place. We need to go no further than the calls to execute Clinton or the violence against black protesters or the unsubtle anti-semitism that made up his rallies.
I refuse to stand by and let the angry white man tell me that this isn’t my country. Yes, globalization and automation have devastated the white working class, and they have my sympathies. But I have no sympathy for the crazy racist idiots of Middle America who came out to vote for the crazy racist idiot candidate. I am angry that this election was stolen from those who believed in progress, facts and decency and from the overwhelming majority of young people, women and people of color who voted for someone actually qualified for the Presidency. Before we pontificate about how much the white working class is hurting, let’s stop and appreciate that this was a loud, resounding scream directed to the brown and queer men and women who have succeeded; it was a scream telling us we weren’t wanted.
There is immense work to be done to stop Trump from dragging the nation down with him, and maybe that work will involve reaching out and empathizing with the bushel of deplorables that voted for him. We cannot let any of those good intentions supersede the progress we have made in making America great for people who didn’t look like America until recently.
Contact Arnav Ravi Mariwala at arnavm ‘at’ stanford.edu.