It’s been several days since it rained here, but this morning, November 9, 2016, it is raining and gloomy, which suits my frame of mind.
The pundits this morning are all wondering what they missed, how they didn’t see a Trump victory coming. That’s sort of the point of a “secret vote,” though, and more significant in this election, perhaps, than in any other. I believe the people who won this election for Trump were not the ones screaming at his rallies, wearing his Make America Great Again hats, or posting signs in their front yards. Yesterday, the people who won this election for Trump weren’t using an “ImWithHim” hashtag or wearing pantsuits for unity; they weren’t even sharing photos of their I Voted stickers.
No, they were virtually silent, trying desperately to fly under the radar of their friends, families, and neighbors. I believe that’s because, unlike Trump’s louder, hate-spewing, proud-to-be-visible core “basket of deplorables” (his white supremacist, misogynistic, anti-immigrant, shit heap of a base), the folks who pushed Trump over the finish line were deeply ashamed of voting for him, but saw no other viable option. (Come on, HRC voters—did all of you feel you saw one, truly?)
But why didn’t that shame translate into a vote against him? That’s a question that will keep historians busy for generations to come. Obviously, in the minds of these silent voters, Secretary Clinton seemed an equally terrible choice.
I get it—I do. Back in the primaries, when we had a baker’s dozen and then some of Republican candidates to choose from, I, too, pushed the idea of “Don’t just elect a woman president; elect the right one.” I am no Clinton fan. But as the field of options shrank throughout the primary process, finally leading to this previously unthinkable contest between two wretched candidates, I, like so many of my fellow Americans, cast my vote feeling like I had no choice.
It’d be easy to lump these quiet Trump folks into the same basket with the rest of his cretins, but that would be ignoring the message we should be trying to understand from their silent support of this terrible man.
These secret voters of his, I believe in my heart, feel quite anxious this morning, too. They’ve been just as appalled by this man’s rhetoric, just as disgusted by his actual behavior, as the rest of us, but these folks, these “forgotten men and women” Trump referenced in his speech last night, they’re in trouble, and they know it. Their schools, their government, and their economy have left them desperate in the dust, scrabbling for basic survival. You know what desperate people do? Well, last night, they voted, and this morning, I believe, they’re hoping and praying that, now that the bluster of the election is over, Trump will settle down, stop being such an asshat, and start delivering on some of the promises he made to them during his campaign.
Unlike his basket of core deplorables, Trump’s silent voters last night, I believe, are not out for the blood of our vulnerable brothers and sisters—the minorities, women, LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims, and others whose rights will likely now be in jeopardy under a Trump presidency. I believe that those stealth voters voted in silence because they actually disagree with many of Trump’s positions, but that, out of their own desperation, they were willing to set those concerns aside and vote for the candidate they thought more likely to help them and their families. Their silence last night, even as their vote count climbed, was deafening. That silence, a reflection of their collective shame, should send a huge message to those of us who voted differently, a message that, on the other side of this divide, there are people suffering, just as there are on this side. The fact that they hid their votes should shed a bright light for all of us not just on the freshly re-exposed hatred and misogyny and bigotry of the mouthpieces at the front of Trump’s vaunted “national [bowel] movement,” but also on the fact that there are desperate people in our country who need our help, and they are desperately unprepared to come up with any better solution than electing this equally unprepared demagogue. They will need all the help we can give them.
Having said all of this has not lessened my own anger, anxiety, disgust, distress—even fear—this morning at the thought of what the Trump presidency will mean for our legitimately now more-vulnerable brothers and sisters. While I am trying hard to understand and have some empathy for Trump’s silent, shamed supporters, the results of my efforts pale in comparison to what I fear lies ahead for the list of people Trump and his basket of core deplorables now must feel completely within their rights to intimidate, mock, threaten, and persecute.
So what do we do now, with all this desperation on both sides? Can we find a way to turn to each other and say, I know you’re suffering, brother, what can I do to help? Can we find a way, sister, that will lift us all up? Not only to build up those who feel the firm ground of American potential has crumbled beneath their feet, but also, to build an unbreakable wall (YES! I said build a damned wall!) of loving service and tolerance and compassion, not at any of our borders, but between our vulnerable, terrified brothers and sisters—women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ, Muslims—and the hateful agenda of Trump’s reprehensible base? I believe that we can. What’s more, I believe that now, we must.
But words are no longer enough. Trump will be president now, and we need to join together as a country to protect and serve in all of the areas his presidency now puts in jeopardy, so below, I’ve compiled a list of organizations that already exist. Check them out, choose one, donate, volunteer, repeat as necessary.
I get it. It’s upsetting and terrifying to wake up this morning to the reality of a Trump presidency, so take a day. Cry a little. Curse a little. Then dust off your pantsuit, roll up those sleeves, and get to work—we’ve got a country to make great again, and it will only happen if we all work together to stop the bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic, ignorant base that started this crazy train rolling to begin with.
After all, we’ve only got four more years.