To Our Children.

To Our Children. November 9, 2016

First, Ed Brayton beautifully captured how I feel this morning:

So many emotions this morning, but the primary one is shame. I am ashamed of this country for electing Trump president. It was a common refrain during the campaign to say in response to Trump’s behavior “that’s not who we are as a country.” Well guess what? Yes it is. It is who we are. A majority of this country are easily-frightened by perceived but non-existent threats to the tribe, making them very prone to nativism, xenophobia and bigotry and easily manipulated by demagogues. They are easily whipped into a frenzy and turned into a mob, with AR-15s and AK-47s replacing the pitchforks and torches.

Land of the free and home of the brave? These people aren’t brave, they’re fucking cowards. The moment they feel uncomfortable, they start looking for scapegoats to blame it on and to unleash their unjustified fears upon — women, blacks, immigrants, Muslims. The targets change over the decades and centuries, but the pattern remains the same. It’s the same pattern identified by Hofstadter 50 years ago, because we don’t learn. Because human psychology is seriously fucked up in a thousand different ways. Tribalism needs to die.

I’ve lived through political losses that shouldn’t have happened. When I was 19 George W. Bush was elected to his first term, defeating Al Gore who actually won the popular vote and who would’ve won the Electoral College if Ralph Nader hadn’t leached so many votes away from him.

I was sad, and angry, and I knew things were likely to get bad, even as I hoped I was wrong.

I was 23 when, despite things going South, Bush won re-election on the back of anti-gay rhetoric. Bush would go on to absolutely tank the economy.

But even though I’m a political animal who has watched the Tea Party take seats at the federal level, and who has watched my preferred candidate lose the race for the presidency, I’ve always felt it could get better. I was the one running around telling people that we can recover if we only organize, and work. I would be the one assuring my friends that it’s not as bad as it seems. I never, ever, ever felt like it was over.

But as my students know, I will never lie to them. If they’re doing poorly, I tell them. If they’re doing well, I tell them. I want them to always believe that what I tell them will match reality as near as I am able, and that I’ll never sugar-coat the terrible or undersell the good. And here’s the truth: this is not just bad, this is far, far worse, and it’s going to be decades before we can recover — before you young people just coming of voting age can recover. And it’s our fault. And I’m sorry.

Donald Trump and the Republican Party have control of the House, Senate, and the Oval Office. That means as soon as Trump nominates a person from his list of highly conservative SCOTUS candidates, the SCOTUS is going to be very conservative — and that’s only going to get worse as the elderly liberals on the Court start dying.

With control of each arm of government, like with George W. Bush back in his day, whatever they want to do will likely get done and without any opposition from the legal body designed to make sure that unconstitutional laws never see the light of day.

Consider for a moment that the Vice President has said that if Trump won they would like to overturn Obergefell. Also, even though the GOP doesn’t have any idea for a replacement to Obamacare, that will all-but-certainly be out the window in short order. If you have a pre-existing condition, your life is about to get very, very hard. My healthcare is gone for sure. And considering that the GOP has made stopping abortion their primary issue during the last four years, I’d be very worried about Roe v. Wade.

This SCOTUS configuration is likely to last about 30 years, stonewalling the government even if we do get better leaders into place. This is why these words from my brother last night really pushed me over the edge in terms of despair:

I don’t want to go back to state bans on homosexual sex. I don’t want to go back to being unable to serve openly during my term of enlistment. I don’t want to be fired from my civilian job for being gay. I want the opportunity to marry the man of my dreams years from now. I want to be able to adopt one day.

I’m not a reprobate or an abomination. I’m not a pervert or a predator. I’m not mentally diseased or morally deficient. I don’t cause natural disasters. I won’t cause the collapse of our society by simply existing.

Republican legislators have always voted in near unanimous opposition to the rights and basic dignity of LGBT Americans. Always. Given a Red House of Representatives, Red Senate, Red SCOTUS for the next several decades, and a President who’s pledged to overturn Obergefell, the future for LGBT Americans looks worse than uncertain. It looks bleak. That’s no exaggeration, but rather an echo of the last thirty years in our country and in my life.

I’m a human being. I’m a gay man.

I’m an American.

I don’t want to go back to the days of my youth when I was treated as a lesser person in the eyes of the law.

And hell, that doesn’t even touch on the few policy promises that Trump made, and the other policies that are part of the GOP’s mission statement. Mike Pence, the VP, supports laws that allow public businesses to exclude LGBT people if the reason is religious. If Trump wants to erect a wall along the Mexican border, whether Mexico pays for it or not, he can do it with no resistance from the bodies who are supposed to check him. Part of how George W. Bush tanked our economy, and how Sam Brownback has bankrupted Kansas, is by cutting taxes on the rich thereby shifting that burden to the middle class, which is 100% what Trump has promised to do. The list goes on. A climate change skeptic in charge of the EPA with a Congress controlled by people who by-and-large don’t believe in global warming? We have it now.

Hell, all the pro-marijuana measures that got passed last night are likely to be meaningless without Obama keeping federal law enforcement at bay.

Don’t think they want the political capital to do these things? Paul Ryan just said in his press conference that Trump, despite losing the popular vote, received a mandate. This is a setup to ram their policies into place. Bush said the same thing when he lost the popular vote.

Now, given my history of “we can fix this” optimism, you’d think I’d be telling you to stick around and fight the good fight. But if I’m going to stay honest, I don’t think you should. I think, if you want to be happy and you’re not already rich, you ought to leave the country. For one, the Republican party is going to make it hard for the youth to fix the problem. I mean, here’s how young people ages 18-25 voted last night:


So why am I not optimistic about the future? The coming census in 2020 is when the district lines in states will be redrawn. You think gerrymandering is bad now? Wait until the federal government doesn’t check GOP state governments obscenely redrawing those lines in their favor. Add that to a likely theocratic-leaning Supreme Court and the results of this election are going to stick around for a while, far beyond the next presidential election.

How did this happen? Easy: most people are stupid. That’s just what it boils down too. Most people are politically uninformed and are too lazy to get politically informed, so they just read headlines (if that) and convince themselves that their gut feeling is as good as knowledge and trot away to tell everybody else to take their opinion seriously. Trump spoke to them, lying as casually as he breathed, and not a one of them took the time to make sure they weren’t being taken advantage of.

I’m furious at those people, at humankind, honestly. But I’m also livid at people on my side of the aisle. How many of the Bernie-or-Busters registered protest votes for Stein or Johnson? Boy, won’t that be a fun conversation with all of their LGBT friends, telling them about the bold stand they took (but that LGBT people actually get to pay for):


I’m pissed at them for confusing their tantrum with political activism. They’ll say they were trying to break the two-party system. Awesome, because Trump won it’s now ingrained even tighter.

And that’s not to say Bernie supporters are the issue. Hell, I would’ve preferred Bernie. No, I’m talking about the ones who stomped their feet and were ok watching this whole thing happen just to pitch a childish fit over their candidate losing the primary. Those people helped create this just as surely as the Evangelicals.

Which brings me to how this really happened. As Hemant Mehta pointed out this morning:

According to ABC News:

Trump’s margin among evangelical white Christians has been huge — 81-16 percent. We have data just since 2004, but this is the widest GOP margin among white evangelicals in that time.

They didn’t just reluctantly vote for Donald Trump. They embraced him.

They rejected a proud Methodist and her former missionary running mate in order to support a man who can’t name his favorite Bible verse, can’t say whether he prefers the Old or New Testament, never asks God for forgiveness, rejects religious freedom for Muslims, thinks the biggest problem Christians face is the inability to say “Merry Christmas” in department stores, lies without effort, treats women’s bodies as his personal property and brags about sexually assaulting them, has been married three times, mocks the disabled, is condescending to black people, enjoys the support of the KKK, has given virtually no money to charity when it didn’t benefit himself, and doesn’t know the first thing about being “pro-life.”

They gave their votes to a guy like that so they could gain a majority on the Supreme Court, overturn Roe v. Wade, and force women to give birth against their will. It’s not just a disastrous policy, it’s inhumane.

Evangelicals are the ones who proudly embraced all this antipathy, who yearn to treat LGBT people as second-class citizens. They are the real problem here, and just like Bernie-or-Busters doing stupid, consequential shit in the name of “justice”, the Evangelicals did it under the name of “love” — even as the results will massively and negatively effect real people.

The problem is that people are dumb. People on the right, people on the left, most of them are just dumb, and their dumbness doesn’t detract from their pride.

So if you want a lesson from this, here it is: be humble. Work to be informed so you’re not taken advantage of, and so you’re not voting with your pride instead of your brain. It’ll be hard, since the GOP has a history of cutting from public education, and Trump/Pence have supported a voucher system that funnels federal money into religious private schools. It’s going to be hard for you.

And I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Even typing those words seems so insufficient to me right now, but they’re all I have. I’m sorry. We did this to you, and we don’t deserve to have you forgive us. This is who we are.

Please be better than us.

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