Editor’s note: I once had a couple of million regular readers, but I sense those numbers are down by a few hundred thousand, thanks in part to my recent stream of politically charged material. I just can’t seem to help myself, so I’ve decided to seek some outside assistance. Voices is a new occasional series in which Americans express their feelings in the wake of the presidential election and what many perceive to be a drastic change in course for America, and not for the better.
By MATT KRUGER
The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America may be the most significant political event of my lifetime. This was not just any presidential election. I’m sorry to say it, but it’s quite possible that the election of this fear-mongering, bigoted, narcissistic demagogic misogynist has usurped all of the monumental political achievements that have occurred in my 28 years in this world. From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the end of Apartheid in South Africa to the election of the first African American President of the United States, the election of Donald Trump may surpass the significance of each of these monumental achievements for mankind.
In a short matter of months, Donald Trump went from being nothing more than a political joke to the president-elect. Heck, I laughed when I first heard that he was running for president! I’m not laughing now, because that laughingstock is soon to become the most powerful man in the free world. Sadly, it was apathy that allowed this to happen. Just 54% of eligible voters across the country cast a ballot this past Tuesday, and 74% of eligible voters did not vote for Trump. In Belgium’s most recent federal election, the turnout was 89%. Think about that for a second.
Donald Trump, before Tuesday, had never been elected to any public office. I fear that Trump does not know the first thing about holding public office let alone how to execute the most demanding and difficult elected position in the world. Our soon-to-be commander in chief also has no military experience. In fact, as you may very well know, Trump successfully evaded being drafted into the Vietnam War five times. He also shouted that Sen. John McCain “isn’t a war hero, because he was captured.”
What Donald Trump does claim to have is business experience. Sure, I won’t deny that. I do, however, deny that he has been a successful and honest businessman. His companies have declared bankruptcy four times. He’s been sued countless times, and he currently has an upcoming federal fraud trial for the now-defunct Trump University. He posted a $916 million loss in a single year. He also became the first major party presidential candidate in 40 years not to release his or her tax returns. He’s either not as successful as he claims, or he’s hiding shady and/or illegal activity.
Putting political, military, and business experience aside, Donald Trump just ran the most racist, hateful, and intolerant presidential campaign since George Wallace! He has spewed hate and incited violence, yet he won in spite of this. Some may argue that he won because of this vitriol. He has divided people of this great land rather than united them, which could have unthinkable consequences. Consequently, Donald Trump is uniquely unqualified to be the President of the United States of America.
The Electoral College was designed to prevent a man like Trump from assuming the presidency. Alexander Hamilton even stated, “the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” Assuming that the Electoral College doesn’t heed Hamilton’s advice and do the unprecedented by casting 270 or more votes for Hillary Clinton on December 19th, the United States is about to embark on the largest political and social experiment in modern times. I hope and pray that the Electoral College does what it was designed to do by taking matters into its own hands. If it does not, a zero-political-experience-having, hate-inducing reality TV personality will be our next president.
I’ve gone back and forth on what types of consequences a Trump presidency will bring. I’ve feared that Trump will deport millions (tearing apart families in the process), repeal marriage equality, make health care unobtainable to the most vulnerable, create political and social division beyond what already exists, and put the environment on a runaway path toward destruction. As someone who cares deeply about our environment and someone who has LGBT and minority friends, I find these possibilities to be quite unsettling. Beyond these terrible outcomes, I fear that a Trump presidency could bring about a global recession and major foreign conflicts unlike the developed world has seen since the Great Depression and World War II, respectively. In short, it could be the end of the world as we know it.
On the other hand, it’s hard to believe that one man can possibly do so much damage. After all, he’s not a traditional Republican, he’s loathed by many of his own party’s elite, and he’s held about every position on every issue at some point or another. Moreover, I highly doubt Trump understands what he’s gotten himself into. I doubt he has any real policies in store. I doubt he actually wanted to win the presidency in the first place. He probably just wanted to garner media buzz and boost his already gigantic ego. He’s about to assume the most scrutinized, challenging, and rigorous job in America. He won’t be able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He won’t always be able to get his way. It’s going to be tough for him. Being president isn’t fun. Perhaps Trump will get sick and tired of the job, declare presidential bankruptcy, and move back into Trump Tower.
Still, Trump has vowed to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court, his potential cabinet picks are worse than a list of Justice League enemies, and the Republicans hold both the House and the Senate. The next four years could be ugly and bleak. And terrifying. And even catastrophic.
So you may ask, “what can we possibly do?” I suggest that we stand together. I suggest that this monumental and unprecedented election serve as a wake-up call. I also hope that we do not let Trump’s hate become our own. As First Lady Michelle Obama so eloquently and simply stated, “when they go low, we go high.” As much fun as it is to shout epithets, it just isn’t productive. We cannot become bitter or hopeless. Instead, we must become more loving and double down on the ideals that have already made America great. Volunteer in your community. Contact your elected officials to voice your concerns and frustrations. Vote in every election between now and 2020. Be an advocate for those who do not have a voice. Whatever you do, do not stand idly by. Trump was elected because too much of America either supported a racist bigot (some in the name of the economy, family values, and smaller government, but they supported him nonetheless) or didn’t care enough to prevent a racist bigot from being elected.
In the White House and on Capitol Hill, a Trump presidency and Republican-held Congress could very well be wildly inefficient. Political gridlock and endless filibusters are more than likely. I hope that our lawmakers work together to pass meaningful and progressive legislation, but I just don’t see that happening. The 2018 midterm elections are only two years away. I have confidence that the Democratic Party will capitalize on a tumultuous and unsuccessful Trump presidency to reclaim control of the House and Senate in the same way the Republicans did in 2010. To do so, however, the Democratic candidates will have to connect with the disenfranchised working class voters in a way that Hillary could not.
These next four years could be very trying. Our country may take many steps backward, and much of the progress that President Obama achieved may be undone. Still, do not be deterred. America will endure. We must do our part each and every day to ensure that the election of Trump or someone like him never happens again. It could be as simple as being kind to a stranger or as complex as starting a petition to try to prevent the repeal of marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, the deportation of millions of families, or even Social Security or Medicare (Who knows what Trump will do!).
At 28-years-old, I haven’t experienced a lot, but I’ve experienced enough to know that we’ve never seen anything or anyone like Donald Trump. I also know that we cannot afford to allow Trump to be re-elected, and we certainly cannot allow another supremely unqualified man or woman to become president in the future. We must do our part to love others, to be involved in the political process and in our communities, and to be everything that Trump is not. We must ensure that Trump is a one-and-done president. There is too much at stake to do anything else.Would you like to add your voice to the Voices series? My contact information is listed under the About Me link at the top of this page.