On a day when our President-Elect has the temerity to tweet: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”, I must close out the year with an observation on the divide in our country. I have friends on Facebook from all sides of the political spectrum, from ultra-liberals to ultra-conservatives, from people that supported Clinton, Sanders, Trump, and everyone and everything else you can think of.
When I read Facebook, I see two Americas, a strongly divided nation.
From my liberal friends (which, I must admit, is my personal leaning), I see all these posts expressing fear about the incoming administration. I see repeated stories about all the bad things Trump is doing, has done, is appointing, and so forth. I see all the stories about people refusing to perform at the inauguration. I see people indicating he is “not their president”. I see a level of fear and animosity I’ve never seen before; I didn’t even see this when Bush 43 won over Gore.
From my conservative friends, I see hatred of everything liberal and everything Obama. From derogatory language to expressions that everything Obama does is illegal. I don’t see outright racism, but the sense of it is there, beneath the surface. I see the sense of Trump is our savior (in a literal, come here Jesus sense). I see things that make me uncomfortable to be a Californian and a Liberal.
And from our incoming President? The President that is supposed to serve all Americans? The President who won the electoral college by careful campaigning, and actually lost the popular vote? I see a reference to the other side as “enemies”, to the other side as a group that “lost so badly they just don’t know what to do” (even though they didn’t lose the popular vote). I don’t see any reference that this man is going to be the President for the entire country, that he will try to lift everyone up and try to do good for all of America. I get the sense that he’s only going to do good for the portion of America that supported him, that he will do good for the America that is the same color and the same class and the same orientation and the same demeanor as him. As for the rest of us? I get the sense that his attitude is, “Screw you. You didn’t vote for me. You deserve what you get.”
As a result, I enter into 2017 with a sense of fear and trepidation. I’m lucky in many ways. Although I’m Californian and Liberal, I’m also by chance white and male and normative in sexual orientation — a demographic he likes. I’m also Jewish — a demographic that may be less in favor. But being Liberal and Jewish, I have an overriding concern for those less fortunate than me — those not lucky enough to have had the privileges I’ve had. Those who are less privileged in terms of race or orientation or gender or economic status — and I fear for them.
I’m not sure I can wish for a Happy New Year. I hope it will be happy, but I truthfully have no idea what will happen after the inauguration. I can hope that everyone stays safe, stable, and that somehow the new year finds a way to unite us, as opposed to dividing us.
As they said on Hill Street Blues, be careful out there.
And as Dan Berry said, if you can’t be careful, name it after me.