Af­ter the elec­tion, it’s mourn­ing in Amer­ica

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Leonard Pitts Jr. The Mi­ami Her­ald Leonard Pitts is syn­di­cated by Tri­bune Me­dia Ser­vices.

It’s not that Amer­ica has never been a dis­ap­point­ment be­fore. It’s not that Amer­ica has never been an em­bar­rass­ment.

But nowhere in modern mem­ory — not at Abu Ghraib, not in the 2000 elec­tion de­ba­cle, not in the Mon­ica Lewin­sky scan­dal — has it been as much of a dis­ap­point­ment and em­bar­rass­ment as it is right now. Don­ald Trump is pres­i­dent-elect of the United States. God help us all.

Ear­lier this year, when Trump be­came the de-facto nom­i­nee of the Repub­li­can Party, I said in this space that if we were truly the kind of na­tion that would elect such a man­i­festly un­fit man to the pres­i­dency, we might as well know it. “Any country,” I wrote, “that would elect Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent de­serves Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent. But the ques­tion is: Are we that country?”

I was hop­ing for an em­phatic no, a no that would raise a mush­room cloud over the na­tivism, coarse­ness and know-nothingism Trump rep­re­sents. But Amer­ica just said yes. And let there be no con­fu­sion over what that yes says about us.

Put aside for a mo­ment Trump’s myr­iad fail­ings. Pre­tend he isn’t a school­yard bully. Pre­tend he isn’t a preen­ing nar­cis­sist. Pre­tend he isn’t ig­no­rant. Pre­tend he doesn’t lie. Just con­sider his treat­ment of the vul­ner­a­ble among us.

Trump in­sulted women in the coars­est and most vul­gar lan­guage imag­in­able, even brag­ging about sex­ual as­sault. And we re­fused to let that bother us.

He branded Mex­i­can im­mi­grants as rapists and pro­posed to bar Mus­lims from these shores. And we chose to be OK with it.

He en­joys the sup­port of David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan and other pro­fes­sional white su­prem­a­cists. And we de­cided that wasn’t a deal breaker.

What do you sup­pose that tells vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple about our com­mit­ment to them?

If you came here look­ing for silver lin­ings, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong col­umn. We Amer­i­cans do that re­flex­ively. Op­ti­mism is in our DNA. So peo­ple will try to find ways to make this some­thing other than the dis­as­ter it is.

But let’s get real. You could raid all the ware­houses of Revlon, May­belline and Es­tee Lauder and still not find enough lip­stick to beau­tify this pig.

There will be time soon enough for pep talks. There will be time to re­mind our­selves of history’s long arc, time to come out fight­ing.

But first, I must give grief its due. The state of the union is not good — not just be­cause Trump was elected, but be­cause so many of us looked past, or em­braced, his big­otry and misog­yny to do so.

As a TV an­a­lyst ob­served on Elec­tion Night, his vic­tory rep­re­sents a “pri­mal scream” from the un­der­e­d­u­cated un­der­class of white Amer­i­cans that feels ig­nored by both par­ties. Agreed. But let’s be clear on what they are pri­mar­ily scream­ing about.

It isn’t the econ­omy. It isn’t poverty or trade. It is, rather, the com­ing Amer­ica in which white peo­ple no longer bear the stamp of de­mo­graphic pri­macy, in which they will find themselves re­duced from lead ac­tor to mem­ber of the ensem­ble.

That Amer­ica is still com­ing. But no­tice was just served that it will be re­sisted ev­ery step of the way.

While I’m dis­ap­pointed and em­bar­rassed, I am not shocked. This country has al­ways been loath to come to terms with — or even ad­mit — the depths of its bi­ases. Wit­ness the pun­dits who spoke of white “eco­nomic anx­i­ety” while Trump sup­port­ers were beat­ing up Mex­i­cans and chant­ing “Jew-S-A.”

Still, I wanted to be­lieve that, in 2016, de­mean­ing women or be­ing ap­plauded by the KKK would be a bar to high of­fice; I wanted to be­lieve my country was fi­nally bet­ter than that.

And it was not.

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