The emotional unwinding of this election has been fierce for many of us. I’ve had multiple moments of letting the tears fall with friends and family. Many of us simply can’t be rational right now and that’s okay. I am not endorsing that we go out and destroy property like a few of us have, peaceful protest maybe…but let’s not get violent. I am saying it’s perfectly okay to vent be angry and yes even distance yourself from people who don’t understand and dismiss your need to be emotional. This is a huge loss for us. I think many of us could have agreed as we have processed this with each other…it’s not so much Trump himself…it’s the message he used to get where he is and the fact that it was as successful as it was. The fact that our culture endorsed and legitimized that. The fact so many acted nonchalant about it like it was something America could gloss over and look past like it’s not a big deal. Liberals have a soft spot for the weak and vulnerable and there is nothing we hate more than a bully. What we are most hurt and insulted about right now is America chose not to intervene with a bullying behavior. This election for us was not necessarily about our ideal candidate, we chose to give up on that after Bernie Sanders lost the primaries. This election, for us atleast, was a cultural war to preserve a message of hope for victims of bullies and bigotry in our country, to tell America that bullies don’t prosper and their behavior is not acceptable. America failed to do this and we feel like our culture failed us because of it.
A lot of us are not being rational right now, I know I am not. But that’s okay, we don’t have to. We do have to be rational enough not to completely lose control and do things that we regret (like violent protests). But we can give ourselves permission to bitch and moan for a little while, we are human and our emotions need to go through the process. But as we slowly come out of the shock, misery, and despair, we need to own up to somethings and decide what we are going to do moving forward.
First off, Hillary was not our champion.
I don’t know about you but I “felt the Bern” like everyone else in the primaries. Were the conspiracies about DNC true? Well I am not 100% invested in either side of the argument, but see the merits in both. The problem with most conspiracies is that they are often based on highly fragmented information. That said the gaps between those fragmented obscurities are interpreted through a lens of assumption and bias. No more or less bias then my comparing Trump to Hitler and neo-nazism. Maybe Hillary did do some things she shouldn’t have, but maybe she wasn’t as bad as people wanted her to be either. Either way there was just enough sketchiness in her record that pushed moderates and swing voters to the right (or even more so create apathetic voters that didn’t want to turn out). Not everyone wants to do or die in the liberal mission to stop bullies from succeeding. That’s what makes us mad at America, but that do or die attitude that made us gloss over the public’s concern about Hillary was also our down fall as a movement. Because we let our sense of righteousness cloud our judgement. We can stick by our convictions in our quest, but we’re going to have to own up to the fact that we needed a better champion. One that moderate America could have respected more. Elizabeth Warren could have been respected more by the public than Hillary. She didn’t lose because of misogyny, she lost because her image was not clean enough for America to respect. Even if she was not as bad as many tried to make her out to be, she made just enough mistakes in her career that cost her the election. We have to own that. We were willing to forgive her only because we felt there was so much at stake and the cultural significance to the first woman president beating a bully gave us hope. But she lost and now the American liberal needs to examine the problems of our image and do some house cleaning.
Second, we have to separate the reality of who Trump really is and the divisive message he used to win.
There is media information chaotically flying in multiple different directions about what Trump is going to do and what he’s not. The administration he’s appointing and the promises he’s intending not to keep, as well as the promises he does. This media, like all media has been this election, is conflicting and highly fragmented. Only time will tell what he is really going to do and what he’s not. I hope that the more moderate information bias is correct and he’s not going to be the monster he portrayed himself to be to the ultra-conservatives. That he really isn’t going to build a wall and deport people, that he really isn’t going to overturn marriage equality and reinstate don’t ask don’t tell. That would be great if that’s all true and maybe I could come around to a willingness to work with it if it is. But given the people he’s putting in power, like Pence and Sarah Palin, it’s hard to tell what really will happen because they REALLY ARE terrifying. The fact still remains (to the liberal agenda’s credit) that regardless of who Trump REALLY is or is not, he used a message of bullying, bigotry, and xenophobia to succeed. That says something very serious about the culture of America. Liberals need to continue to oppose whatever it is in our culture that permitted that to succeed. We need to focus our counter attack moving forward more on the culture that created Trump and less on if that’s truly who he is or not. If he is the monster he claims to be it will become apparent over time, if he isn’t then we need to focus on the culture that voted for him and keeping it in check.
Third, we MUST create community.
Some of us grew a little complacent during the Obama administration as we gained rights like marriage equality. America was slowly becoming a culture that LGBTs and other minorities could succeed and live happy lives in. More and more of the gay community become homogenized. We thought we could just live a comfy life in suburbia with our husbands and settle down in a middle-income lifestyle. (Well us millennials doubted the middle-income thing because of all the student loan debt we’d face to get that kind of income, but that’s another story.) We took that progress for granted and slowly got more complacent about creating gay community and resources for our needs. Now our ability to have that life and many other things is threatened by people like Mike Pence who have an agenda to take that away and even put us through correctional shock therapy. Again maybe the Trump administration will not make good on their claim to do this…but then again maybe they will. I know I have a lot to lose as a boyfriend to a man that serves in the Navy. If we lose our right to marry each other and be recognized as legal spouses, I will not be able to travel with him as he gets re-stationed in the coming years. I will not have access to Tricare for my medical needs, and will not have the economic support from the military to make all that goes into a military couple’s lifestyle work. Maybe if my career as a counselor generates enough income for me, I can travel with him as he goes from place to place on my own dollar. But that’s not really likely given the debt and average income counselors with a master’s degree get. Not to mention getting advancement as a counselor that constantly has to move with his non-legal military spouse is not likely.
So yeah the world will pretty much go up in flames for us if either Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or a traditional marriage act gets reinstated. Our life as a couple might have to end because we will not have the same support heterosexual military couples do to stay together in the complications of a military lifestyle. That would be devastating to both of us. If this does happen the gay community is going to have to stick together. We will have to work our asses off to fight for our rights (yet again), defend ourselves against hate crimes and bigotry, and create an internal community that compensates for the discrimination we face. We can’t do that with grindr alone…we are going to have to organize, put time and resources into it, and come together and be accessible and visible to each other. As a pre-professional counselor, I am going to have my work cut out for me to advocate for minorities that are impacted by the coming cultural shift and I plan to do just that! I am afraid and I am not going to pretend I am not, the fact that I could lose so much is very real for me. But I will not let that fear silence me or the good I can do with the kind of career I am going into. So be visible and accessible to other minorities that will be impacted, offer your time as a volunteer, or your resources if you have them to give. We will need each other more then we have previously as we are impacted by the coming cultural changes.
Fourth, be engaged in the Liberal agenda and PLEASE GOD(ESS) VOTE FOR IT!
The biggest problem with the left is that its notorious for not being proactive enough or united enough. Conservatives always turn out to vote with loyalty to their party, society by default tends to represent them and create community for them. Liberals must actually show up to create community and make their voices heard. Our challenge is we do so with more diversity and differing perspectives. That’s often why conservatives win against us. When they are, for the most part, entirely white, Christian, heterosexuals, they rarely have to argue about who is being represented and who isn’t and dealing with that divide on their agenda. What little differences they do have still is not significant enough to stop their voter turn out in elections. They pretty much just all reach a consensus that they will represent white, Christian, heterosexual interests and vote on it. The minorities in their party are so loyal they are still willing to vote, even if it’s against their own interests sometimes (I am looking at you LGBTQ republicans). Liberals are attempting to advocate for many different (and sometimes conflicting) minorities. Thus, we have large amounts of internal fighting that discourages our attempts to have effective and united action. We are going to have to at least TRY to come to consensus to challenge the bullies in Trump’s America. Sometimes our infighting is extremely petty and our oppression Olympics only defeats ALL of us in the end. So we’re going to have to address that moving forward in a way that consolidates better unity and less division. Maybe the privileged in our communities are not listening enough and maybe the victim mentality gets out of hand and misplaced. We’re going to have to do something about both sides of the issue and reach a solution that results in better unity and proactive engagement.
Finally support each other, affirm your emotional needs, use your feelings as motivation to do something.
We are hurting and there is going to be a lot of fear, anger, and sadness going forward. We’ve all been at a point of emotional break down at some point in our lives…so be as understanding as you can if people need the space to do that. Give yourself permission to do that. Regardless of if you were for or against Hillary…I do agree with her slogan “stronger together.” Bernie had a similar message and tried to encourage unity too, even if it meant compromise. Our vision as liberals is about trying to make the world a better place for those that are under privileged and face injustice by society’s bullies. Let’s own that what we are really hurt about here all comes down to the fact that our culture permitted bullying to be successful. That’s where the pain is rooted. So lets process that, and support each other as we do. Use that pain and anger to motivate you to address the problems of bullying in society. Bullies use terror and violence to intimidate those who cannot defend themselves…it’s our job to intervene. So we have to better ourselves and become an advocate that does exactly that. We have to clean up our act, address the issues with our political communities, and better ourselves so that we can create an America where bullies truly never prosper. Use your fear, anger, and sadness to acknowledge there is a problem and find the motivation within you to go out and CHANGE IT! We have only ourselves to blame if we don’t even at the very least “Try”…so “try” because it’s our moral obligation to intervene when there is injustice…otherwise we permit bullies to shape the society we live in. We have only ourselves to blame if we don’t intervene when we see bullies prosper. We aren’t perfect, we are human and make mistakes, but even if we fail we can at least “try” and that is something!