As election night became ELECTION WEEK I was surprised to find my emotions oscillating in comparison to my prior posture of tentative indifference.
I felt a long-dormant gnarled gear struggling into activity. My thoughts led me to some takeaways about moving forward.
Here are my 3 takeaways about the election.
- Trump was not expecting to win. Trump was expecting impunity.
- Trump didn’t ascend on his own. A LOT of people and institutions enabled his behavior and took advantage of the chaos for their own benefit.
- The Trump presidency was a window into the way white men wield power and protect each other at the highest levels.
As a private citizen owning privately held companies, much of his behavior was kept secret. Trump seemingly did not anticipate that as a public figure he would be open to data request laws, and more importantly, leaks from his own administration.
Paying porn stars was theater, but the real issue was always going to be the impact of having a president continuing to own and influence a sprawling and vulnerable debt-laden business empire.
His various potential conflicts of interest spawned a renewed enthusiasm and hunger for investigative journalism.
Trump had always enjoyed press, the thirsty tabloids looking for the next sensational headline-grabbing story. Trump had never been the subject of serious, rigorous journalism.
For the first time in his life he was being held accountable.
Reporters became the enemy of the people. Nevertheless, journalists proved to be successful at untangling the web of Trump associated business. His behavior while president and his propensity to lie and mislead demanded that the newsroom find a way to the truth.
I anticipated the podcast “Trump, Inc.”enthusiastically. Stopped everything to read the elaborate New York Times pieces on Trump’s finances. Bombshell after bombshell revealed in black and white that everything about Trump’s identity as a successful billionaire was a profitable fabrication.
The Times revealed that Trump’s generational wealth is rooted in the swindling of the federal government. A legacy of grift rooted in the impunity that a very visible class of absurdly wealthy people have in the United States.
In turn, Trump’s business practices of manipulation and graft became the official policy of the United States.
It took the collective resources of thousands of newsrooms, tips, and data collections to hold Trump accountable; not tech companies, not Congress, the courts, or the Mueller investigation.
Make no mistake, the determined reporters were protected because of public interest. The best journalism available only matters if it is read, digested, and acted on. Without that our profession would erode into dust. Reporters delivered the truth, and the truth delivered accountability and action.
Ultimately, Trump was held accountable in this election despite immense barriers. Short of military intervention, clearly, only a majority of registered voters could stop Trump. Our democracy bent hard to withstand Trump’s worst tendencies. It is weakened and weakening under the weight of his beleaguered presidential tantrums.
Biden is an improvement to Trump and it doesn’t soothe the concern I have for so many people and communities that I love. We continue to live in crisis. It feels like catastrophe looms hardest for working people and historically marginalized communities.
Lost in the analysis around the perspective of people of color in the election is what I hear among my friends across the country.
We didn’t want Trump, we didn’t want that daily constant fear and anxiety that maybe we are one threat or tweet away from being the target of Trump himself or his goons and surrogates. The enthusiasm and the turnout at the polls for many of us is rooted in the desperation for some stability as the drumbeat of white supremacy beats louder and louder.
The forces that Trump has agitated have lurked in the shadows for some time, emerging every so often to remind us of their presence.
Trump emerged through the parts of US society that remain under the belief that the lives, freedoms and riches of wealthy straight white men need to be protected at all costs, at everyone else’s expense.
Thanks to Trump, there is no doubt that not only is the United States a divided country, but one where the white supremacist roots are nourished and thriving having withstood the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the civil rights era.
Under the Trump administration the long burning dreams of white supremacists were made manifest as children were separated from their families at the Border, the murder of Black folks by police continued and seemingly encouraged, the continued and persistent denial of native sovereignty.
In the end, like many I have been feeling the weight of having everything I love targeted in some by the tentacles of Trump’s unique brand of White Supremacy.
I am relieved, but still alert.
Moving forward, I hope to be a part of an accountability that is restorative for us. I hope for a definition of safety that draws from tenderness in government policy and empathy in decision making. Not to be punitive, but to give us a chance to heal, a chance to manifest a society and economic structure that isn’t predicated on exploitation, conquest and control.