Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Day After the Election: I Choose Optimism over Despair

The day after the election of Donald Trump, my 36 year-old son, Sam, called and asked me to tell him, in effect, why this wasn't "the end of the world." After I'd shared my views of the election and related issues with him for about 15 minutes, he breathed a sigh of relief and said, a bit tearily: "Thanks, Dad. I knew I could count on you." 

As we said our goodbyes, Sam suggested that I share my optimistic view of the future with the rest of the family, which I did in an email later that day, as follows: 

To my family and friends:
Sam suggested that I write a (brief) email to all of you, sharing some of my day-after thoughts and feelings about the election and where we go from here. So, here goes a relatively short version of my current day-after thoughts.
1. Although there is much to be concerned about with a Trump presidency (most notably, the make-up of the Supreme Court and the appointment of other conservative judges who will be quickly approved by a Republican Senate), I am optimistic about the demographics of the next 20 years of elections. The electorate will be increasingly young, multi-cultural, socially liberal, educated, and, personally experienced with economic, gender, and class struggle.  
2. In this very first day after the election, I have already read dozens of emails from progressive individuals and groups digging in for the battles before us. Far from despairing, these folks are fired up and ready to fight for those values that so many of us share. 
3. This election (and the primaries before it) show clearly that a vast majority of Americans are fed up with the corporatist status-quo represented by the two major parties. Neither the noblesse oblige and social engineering of liberal Democrats nor the pandering to social conservatism and xenophobia of the Republicans can disguise the fact that in their zeal to retain political power both parties have created a society of gross and growing economic inequality. 
4. Certainly, the corporatist and, (yes!) corrupt Democratic party deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the election of a candidate who is so clearly unfit to be President of the United States. As for the Republican Party, its years of thinly disguised appeals to racism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia have finally and deservedly led to its takeover by extreme proponents of these hateful views.  
5. A pox on both these parties. I believe that the two-party system with all of its electoral flaws is actually beginning to crumble and that by 2020, there will be at least 6 more-or-less viable political parties (3 on the right and 3 on the left) running candidates in local, state, and federal elections. 
6. So, let each of us according to our abilities, passions, time, and energy devote ourselves to making a better world for ourselves, our families, our friends, and for all those who have suffered and continue to suffer in a society that has been shaped by corporatist politicians and business interests ever since Reagan’s first election in 1980. (That’s 36 years!) 
7. Speaking of which, for those of you too young to remember that election, we were all at least as scared by Reagan’s election then as many of us are by Trump’s election yesterday. Yet, we did not despair. Many of us dug in and worked to create a more just future for all and, while the fight is not over, we have seen many improvements in human and civil rights throughout the world, which the election of Donald Trump cannot stop. 
8. So, while I understand that most of you feel a deep disappointment in the outcome of the election and some of you may even be deeply depressed, I urge you not to despair. Instead, devote yourself to bettering the world in any way that you can, whether it be a small kindness to those around you or donating money to causes that you believe in or working for the election of progressive-minded people to local, state, and national offices or any other positive act. 
Remember that love trumps hate.
Love to all of you.

From the reactions and replies I received, it seemed that this email was comforting and helpful to many of my family and friends, a number of whom reported that they'd found it useful in talking to their friends about the election and the future. As a result, I posted this same email to my Facebook page and was stunned  and gratified by the outpouring of agreement with these sentiments expressed by dozens of Facebook friends.

I hope, now that the Trump presidency is underway, that the ideas in this email may also be of aid and comfort to new readers.

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