What comes next: Facing the facts in the Donald Trump era
I am a journalist. I love being a journalist; I've spent the last 10 years learning how to do this job, and it has become a central grounding factor of my identity. In journalism school, we are taught about objectivity, to confront our own bias and to respect the audience enough to let them make their own decisions with the truths we've presented. Show, don't tell.
Part of that means that individual journalists don't endorse candidates, don't discuss their political affiliations or encourage people to vote for one person over another. I've stuck by that principle during this election, because I think it is important. I believe that when people have the facts, they reach logical conclusions and do what is right. Feelings and emotions are important, but they are highly personal; I can't tell someone what their heart should feel when they face a particular set of facts. This summer, I wrote the ethical handbook for my media organization, and that was a central tenet of it.
But this election is showing that people don't have the facts, or don't believe them, because opportunistic and calculating figures have seen undermining the truth as their path to victory. And when people don't have or believe the facts, they follow their hearts and take leaps of faith. They doubt the truth and give credence to the lie, acting out of fear that everyone around them is telling them they should have.
He has lied so much that his lies no longer have meaning.
It is not a political belief to say that Donald Trump is sexist, racist, ableist, vengeful and a bully. It is not a political belief to say that he has allowed a homophobic, transphobic misogynist into the White House with him. It is not a political belief to say that he is a liar. Those are not labels anyone chooses for themselves; people qualify for them through their actions. And at every turn, Trump has acted in ways that align with every single one of those words. He has lied so much that his lies no longer have meaning. He's filled the air with fear and bombast, and it's no surprise that, breathing in the fumes of a deliberately deceptive campaign, the voters had to resort to feelings over facts. There are only so many times you can hear a man say, "I am your only hope for survival," before you start to wonder if he's right.
If you weren't enthusiastic about his opponent to begin with, it's easier to hedge your bets and go with that scary man promising you the world than I think any of us wanted to believe. It simply does not matter that Trump was lying about his ability to improve life for poor people, people of color, women and even immigrants, because he was willing to repeat the lie louder than anyone could deliver the facts to disprove him.
Here is where I'm at today: exhausted, anxious, terrified. I'm furious at myself and others for not doing the work necessary to inform the people who most needed the truth. I am deeply saddened for those people who believe that Trump will help them, because 99% of them have been deceived. I am sad that Hillary Clinton, the most qualified candidate to ever run for United States president, will now never hold that office. I am sad that a man whose platform was that he was not a seasoned political leader will take it instead.
I am scared for my future in a way I never have been before. I am a young, queer woman of color who works in an industry the president-elect has condemned as corrupt and irredeemable. I am afraid my right to marry will be taken away, which in turn will erode my and my fiancee's financial stability and our ability to start a family. I am looking back at the privilege I held yesterday, which I was so lucky to gain via Supreme Court ruling just as I reached adulthood, and kicking myself for not taking seriously the idea that I might lose it. Early Wednesday morning, I went to bed terrified that the future I'd only just started to seriously conceive would be taken away unceremoniously.
If you are lost, scared and uncertain about what you're going to do, I am here. I can't offer solutions right now, but I can hug you and feed you and keep you hydrated.
And at the end of the day, I am not the most exposed or in danger here. I am not a Muslim, or an immigrant, or a young man of color, or even a very visible Latina. The political machine that secured marriage equality (and with it those myriad familial rights that make it important in practical, rather than simply emotional, terms) is mighty, and I have faith that it will protect that right fiercely, and ultimately restore it if it does get put on hold.
So today, I reserve the deepest part of my mourning for those groups whose rights are not defended the way marriage equality is. I'm setting aside whatever energy I can to fight for those who cannot do it alone. If you are lost, scared and uncertain about what you're going to do, I am here. I can't offer solutions right now, but I can hug you and feed you and keep you hydrated. I can give you a place to sleep and an endless supply of silly television if you need to just tune the world out for a while. And as soon as you're ready to fight, I'll be right there with you.
Because it's not a political belief to say that people of color, queer people, immigrants, non-Christians and refugees have rights. It's not a political belief to say that bigotry is wrong, and that our nation is better when we stand together. It is not a political belief to say that the things Donald Trump has promised to do as president are unconstitutional and diametrically opposed to the principles of our nation. And it's not a political belief to say that if you voted to make this happen, you have deliberately put a very large swath of this nation in acute danger. Those are just the facts.