Anger stoked by Trump not going away
In its trademark satirical style, The Onion nailed it: “Trump Maps Out Plan For First 100 Days Of Not Conceding Election.”
Deliciously, the imagined post-election press release from the floundering Republican presidential candidate detailed: “Within my first 10 days, I will introduce a comprehensive plan for my disgruntled supporters to march on the White House, and by day 30, I will submit a formal petition demanding Clinton’s immediate removal from office.” The spoof concluded by saying Trump “looks forward to fiercely disputing the legitimacy of a Clinton presidency for the next four years.”
You’d be forgiven for accidentally believing this was a legitimate statement from Trump, who has managed to suck so many people into his reality distortion field that even normally levelheaded people are getting out of whack.
Former presidential candidate John McCain made remarks last week that basically outlined a scenario in which a Clinton win would trigger four years of Republicans blocking any Supreme Court nominee put forward by the new president. McCain eventually walked back his strident comments but they give you a good idea where things stand.
For those of us who believe in the strength of a two-party system in which the loser of an election peacefully concedes to the victor and works harder to win next time, things look grim. Trump’s insinuations of rigged elections and his call for his supporters to monitor polls for fraud — mostly in communities of color, it turns out — are eroding what little public trust in government is left.
Meanwhile, Americans are reporting election-related anxiety that includes real symptoms like difficulty sleeping, irritability and heart palpitations due to the unprecedented bile of this campaign. The American Psychological Association’s most recent survey found 52 percent of American adults say the 2016 election “is a very or somewhat significant source of stress.”
Many of these people are looking forward to the relief of the election being over. Unfortunately, a lot of us are even more worried about what happens after Election Day, because the forces that have been unleashed aren’t going to make newly normalized hatred magically go away.
In September, several women were targeted in a series of fire attacks in New York — a 14-yearold boy was arrested in one incident, accused of attempting to set a teen girl’s shirt on fire. Other women, some of them in Muslim attire, had their skirts set ablaze with lighters in the same vicinity.
Hispanic children have been bullied and taunted in school about border walls, and adults have been asked for their “papers” by people with zero authority to do so. Women have reported feeling targeted as “pearl-clutchers,” i.e. too sensitive, after revelations of Trump’s degrading remarks about women thrust “locker room talk” into the public discourse. African-Americans have been reduced to stereotypes of victims living in the so-called hell of inner cities, Jews have experienced an uptick in anti-Semitism, and on and on. The “Trump Effect” examples are endless. And they are pervasive. New York Times investigative reporter Michael Luo recently described a woman cursing at him and his family as they were leaving church. “Go back to China. Go back to your [expletive] country,” he said the woman yelled to him.
Luo, in front of his children, was reduced to yell back, “I was born in this country!”
This is what life feels like for anyone with an ethnic-sounding name or nonwhite outward appearance in the waning days of our first African-American president’s second term in office.
Before the Trump candidacy, “microaggressions” — subtle slights of one’s ethnicity or other cultural characteristics — were the day-to-day concern of nonwhites. It’s safe to say that for the 40 percent of America that is nonwhite, microaggressions have given way to plain old aggression from people who are looking to blame “bad hombres” for tarnishing America’s greatness halo.
And we’d better prepare ourselves for the anger and resentment to persist after Nov. 8, regardless of who wins.