November 27, 2016
It’s been nearly a month since the election, and I’m still struggling with the outcome. Nearly every day some new alarming piece of information comes to light, and we are left to figure out what it means and how it will impact our future. I am not one of those who is espousing the #NotMyPresident mantra; just as I felt when President Obama was elected and folks complained and protested and lamented, I believe that embittered divisiveness is counterproductive for all of us. Yes, my friends, there was protesting and loud lamentation when the votes were tallied for Obama, much as many Trump supporters would love to ignore. And yes, I understand why people get behind the #NotMyPresident movement; it’s just that I think the deed is done, and what must be done now is to be watchful and proactive of the potential ramifications, rather than choose not to acknowledge the reality in which we find ourselves.
That reality is this:
We have the appointment of Steve Bannon, a man considered by many to have close ties to racist White Supremacist groups, to Chief Strategist. We have the appointment of Betsy DeVos, wealthy private school product with no experience or connection to public education to Secretary of Education. Jeff Sessions, known for his racist and anti-LGBT stances, has been appointed Attorney General, causing heightened concern for civil liberties moving forward. There is a host of other recently appointed and rumored appointees that draw from one of two categories—long-time career politicians that fly in the face of Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” rallying cry, and wealthy political donors and lobbyists with approximately the same amount of experience Trump himself possesses in the political arena. Now don’t get me wrong; I am frankly relieved to hear that there will be someone with the keys to the playground who’s actually been there before, but it would be a whole lot less concerning if those being invited back to the playground weren’t all part of the same gang that tried to run everyone else out to begin with.
What is most striking about all of these appointments of the good old boys is that Trump supporters, many of whom voted for him on the promise of new ideas and new voices in government, haven’t found themselves betrayed by these appointments. Similarly, Trump has already backtracked, before even taking office, on his plans to charge Hillary for presumed crimes, his pledge to completely repeal Obamacare, and his vision of the Wall. Like many, many politicians before him, he has said whatever he needed to say in order to get himself elected, and people fell for the act.
The reality—our reality—is that the populace has perhaps the most important responsibility we’ve ever had. We must hope, though it seems counterintuitive in this case, for the success of our President-elect, because that is the only way we succeed. What success looks like for America, for the people, might be much different than what it looks like for a wealthy businessman. We need to teach our inexperienced leader and his cabinet what we believe success looks like; as in any relationship, we must teach them how we expect to be treated and accept nothing less. As the fringes have moved center and to the primary seats at the table, we have to make sure we maintain the voices of all, loudly and persistently, especially those who seemingly have been uninvited to the feast. It would be easy to, with time, forget that the dinner party is going on in our absence, but we simply cannot allow those at the feast to forget that the pantry belongs to us all.