Whether you look at the popular vote or the electorate vote, last night’s numbers display a deeply startling and disturbing reality: our nation’s overwhelming divide.
We have to face this reality with strength and dignity. We cannot look away, or distract ourselves with fantasies of being elsewhere, or lose ourselves in a bog of denial, screaming about conspiracy.
If we believe in the democratic process, we have to acknowledge that our democracy – the same democracy that brought our beloved President Obama to office for two terms – carried out last night’s results.
And while I am dumbstruck, these results didn’t appear out of thin air. The rhetoric of oppression, opposition, divide, and uprising that captured the imagination – and the delusion – of the American people has been present since the very birth of this country.
Who are these people, these Americans, these voters who would so blatantly ignore, and even embrace, the toxic, intolerant and hateful false ideas generated by the Trump campaign? Who are they? What is their story? What is the great injustice they think they are battling, standing over in victory, as they rally behind this man? What are the immediate evils in their lives that they so passionately oppose?
There is a core that lies beneath the surface of hate. It is fear. It is uncertainty. It is neglect. It is frustration. It is despair. It is resentment. It is entitlement. It is self-preservation. It is opportunity.
The hate bubbling under their skin is comprised of the same ingredients as the hate currently bubbling under ours. A different combination, and a different straw man, but these same fundamental ingredients make a lasting impression on how we choose to live out our day-to-day lives.
Trump concluded his victory last night with a powerful message: No man or woman shall be left forgotten. That is a powerful motivator, and mobilizer. And the American people – HALF OUR COUNTRY – rallied behind this idea. Not the MAN – who this man actually is, and how he chooses to keep his word, is something we will have to witness in the coming months and years – but the IDEA OF THE MAN.
Perhaps it is time to take a genuine, compassionate look at our fellow countrymen and countrywomen – in the face of adamant opposition and hatred – and listen. Listen to the crazy. Listen to the hate. Listen to the hurt.
Because love trumps hate.