An Open Letter to America

In Life, Politics on November 9, 2016 by thebetweenthoughts

Dear America,

WTF???  No seriously, WTF???

What did we do last night?  How did we elect a misogynist, racist, con artist as the President of the United States?  Why did we just hand over the keys to the most powerful nation in the world to the most unqualified and unstable person for that job?

Part of the answer to these questions lies in the fact that “we” no longer really exists.

As exit polls and electoral college votes came streaming in last night, a glaring division in our population became evident.  This was an election that pitted the white voter v. everyone else.  For the past eight years, the constant message was how racially diverse we were becoming as a country.  We heard how the Obama coalition – a multi-ethnic, gender-diverse, youthful group – was the wave of the future and they were going to dictate elections from here on out.  We heard how the rise of Latinos would impact races across the nation and how resonating with that specific group would be the key to winning in the future.

So what happened?

I’m sure political scientists will be looking at this election for years in order to understand how pollsters could have erred so horribly.  But it seems, at least on the surface, that the white vote (especially those that have been impacted the most economically over the past eight years) came back with a vengeance.  They were tired of hearing that they didn’t count anymore.  They were tired of hearing that they had a dwindling share of power in this nation.  They were tired of hearing they didn’t matter anymore.

So when a white nationalist candidate becomes President…what does that say about America?  What does that mean for everyone that doesn’t fall into that category?

Over the past 35 years of being an American-born citizen who is Asian, I’ve experienced subtle racism, institutional racism, blatant racism, egregiously blatant racism…but I’ve never really thought of America as a racist nation.  America had racists (so does every country and every population), but the country itself wasn’t racist.  Right?

Sadly, I now have to question that assumption.  Trump is a bigot and he campaigned on a white nationalist platform that targeted anything considered “the other”.  And “we” just elected him as President.  Maybe you’re the voter that convinced themselves that Trump’s economic “message” (or gobbledygook) resonated with you.  You were negatively affected by free trade and you weren’t seeing the economic gains other parts of the country experienced.  Or maybe you just couldn’t move past the Clinton scandals (even though they pale in comparison to Trump’s).  Or maybe you just wanted “change” in the status quo.  So you voted for him for these reasons – but you also have to come to terms with the fact that you just validated the rhetoric of the most blatantly racist candidate in recent history.  All candidates have flaws, but these are disqualifiers.

If there is an increase in violence toward Muslims in America – that’s on your soul.

If there are families torn apart by aggressive deportation – that’s on your conscience.

If there are people bullied because of how different they are – that’s on you.

We elected a President that stirs up and promotes all of these aggressive and negative emotions…and I’m honestly scared.

So what happens now?  That’s the question that made some people (me in particular) queasy this morning and made others rejoice this morning.  Is it possible to even create a “we” in this political environment?  Or is this going to be four years of trying to bring down the progressive coalition that’s been building in this country?

Being Asian, I thankfully haven’t been the direct target of Trump’s assaults.  But I wonder if I could be in the future.  Let’s say China or North Korea starts antagonizing Trump.  How will he respond and will he turn his vitriol to Asians in America?  It sounds idiotic (especially since I’m Filipino) – but nothing is off the table anymore.  This is the new America to which we’ve woken.  A country where logic and truth just don’t matter anymore.  It was a constant stream of lies out of the Trump campaign and half of the electorate just didn’t care.  How is it possible that someone who 61% of the population thought was unfit to lead…became President?  Is America really that intent on shooting itself in the foot?

I have been angry about election outcomes, but I’ve never been despondent.  I’ve never been inconsolable.  I’ve never worried about the future (as in, the actual existence of tomorrow).  This election has broken the American spirit.  Not just in its outcome, but in how we were all dragged through this disgusting process over the past 18 months.

Can we become stronger as a nation with this potentially authoritarian leader?  Can we heal as a nation with such a divisive figurehead?  Can we survive the next four years?

I hope so.  But obviously my voice doesn’t matter as much anymore.





3 Responses to “An Open Letter to America”

  1. On point!

  2. Eloquent, echoing much of what I have been thinking. In addition to the disqualifying actions you cited, Trump did not prepare for the debates (so he lost). Should we, especially our children, dispense with preparation for important events? Study? Research? No, the most powerful man in the world got where he is without any of that. Also, he seems to have little respect for anyone (eg, generals, scientists). We’ve long had leaders who, while not experts, respected and relied upon experts. Has trump opened a post- knowledge era?

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