Clear and Present Danger

We all witnessed a cause for excessive sorrow this past week, seeing incident after incident across our nation; children fear being sent away or not belonging in this country because of disabilities, race, or religion. Middle school and high school students use derogatory language, and college students create repulsive websites depicting African-Americans’ lynchings.

Children watched and listened to presidential candidates engage in offensive, childish name-calling and learned to accept this as the new normal. The alarming number of violent, discriminatory incidences after the election results has caused many schools to declare their values of inclusion and commitment to the safety and concern of minorities, immigrants, and refugees.

Regardless of how we voted, and whatever the reason, we must not ignore that a result of this election is the permission it granted racism, sexism, xenophobia, and bigotry to emerge from the darkest recesses and surface openly in our communities.

Post-election, we need to put aside political differences and past bitterness toward previously elected officials and come together as families, friends, communities, and as a nation to address the numerous issues before us. We must unite in preventing and banishing hate speech and actions. We must join in being advocates for inclusion. The attacked are our fellow citizens, immigrants, refugees, our fellow humans, and our children.

If we don’t unite in addressing this clear and present danger, it will rip our country apart.

This past week, I felt sorrow, hope, and anger. I do not believe I am alone. Sorrow will lessen with time, but it does nothing at the moment except paralyze. Hope should sustain and grow, but hope, while necessary, in itself is not a strategy. Anger about the occurrences of the past week is a wake-up call to everyone, especially our newly elected leaders, that we cannot be complacent.

Racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and hate, are born of and sustained by ignorance, fear, and despair. We must contain our sorrow, hope, and anger, and we should channel it into fighting for inclusion and fighting against ignorance, fear, despair, and hate.

Our future, our economic viability, and our national security depend on it.

Throw It Away

On Election Day, 2016, before the polls closed on the East Coast, a friend told me that she was extremely proud of her two daughters; they voted for Gary Johnson. Struck by the pointlessness knowing they are both attending colleges in swing states, I asked her, “Was voting for a third-party candidate the equivalent to throwing their votes away?”

After an onslaught of disparaging remarks about Hilary Clinton, I asked, “How could any woman support Donald Trump; he campaigned with a blatant bigoted, misogynistic message?” My question ignited another barrage of derogatory remarks regarding Hilary Clinton.

The next assault surprised me, not by the tone, but this time I was being reprimanded for suggesting her daughters could support Donald Trump, a revolting and condescending individual, a vengeful, mean-spirited man; ignorant of national and global policies and anything to do with women’s issues. A narcissist who would do nothing but take the country backward, a candidate that had no concern for her daughters and would ultimately strip them of their civil liberties and potentially the ability to make choices about their bodies. Instead, they chose to cast their votes for Gary Johnson as an alternative because they could not bring themselves to vote for Hilary Clinton or Donald J. Trump. Surprised at this point in the conversation, I had not been physically assaulted; I respectfully asked again, “Was voting for a third-party candidate in the United States, a two-party political system, essentially the same as not voting at all?”

My friend “accidentally” threw coffee on me.

While wiping the coffee from my shirt, I offered a response to my leading question.

“I do not think voting for a third-party candidate is the equivalent of not voting at all or throwing their vote away. First, they voted, and it does make a protest statement. Second, there are other candidates in other races and important issues on the ballot.”

While their protest statement may seem like an excellent idea, this probably was not the right election. Granted, we had to choose between an inept, racist bigot and a woman with an email problem, but choosing to vote for a third-party candidate ultimately eliminated their selection of the next United States president.

Now they get to live with the results.

How Could We?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who built his campaign on hate, racism, sexism, and division?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who thinks NATO is an apartment building where the tenants are not paying enough rent?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who does not know enough about critical policies to finish a one-minute answer on any issue without insults and repetition?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who was briefed on U.S. intelligence but will not admit he knows the cyber attacks came without question from Russia?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who does not understand or admit climate change is real?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who boasts that he tries to pay zero federal taxes but then complains that our airports and roads are falling apart and there is not enough money for our veterans?

How could we elect a man to be in the Oval Office who promises change but thinks people who pay taxes are stupid?