Photo by Aaron Burden.

This, Too, Shall Pass

It Will Take More Than Donald Trump to Destroy Our Republic

Like so many others, I was wrong. I never believed — never even really contemplated — that Donald J. Trump could be elected president of the United States of America. Mr. Trump is a bigoted, racist, misogynist, narcissistic sociopath with no elected office experience who, by his own admission, has taken advantage of his fame to serially abuse women. And as of this morning, he is also the president-elect of our nation. This is a dark day. But now is not the time for despair. The coming years will be difficult, but we will meet this challenge as we have met so many others in history. We will once again show the world that American resolve will never falter.

Make no mistake, the election of Donald Trump is nothing short of a disaster for our country. America’s standing in the world will suffer, progress we’ve made will be rolled back, discrimination will get worse, and we’ll take a major financial hit. Perhaps worst of all for many of us, it will become impossible to look at our flag and think “we’re the greatest country on Earth.” Great countries, after all, don’t tend to succumb to this sort of nonsense, and especially not those who remember the lessons of the twentieth century.

Not to mention that we have been robbed of the opportunity to see where Hillary Clinton, a dedicated public servant with four decades of experience, could have taken us. While a remarkably unpopular presidential candidate, Sec. Clinton is unquestionably a seasoned leader and diplomat with a level of commitment to public service matched by few others. She would have made an excellent president, and her election would finally have shattered that highest of glass ceilings. Sadly, for the time being that ceiling remains intact, mocking our wives, daughters, and anyone else who believes gender has no place in determining one’s potential.

But the sad fact is that the history of the American experiment is replete with examples of our country taking two steps forward and one step back. This is no different. We fought one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history so that all our citizens could be free, and then we spent a century restricting those same citizens’ basic civil rights. God knows what progress President Trump will attempt to undo, but it will be painful for those who want a freer, fairer America for everyone.

Still, difficult as this will be for many of us — including eventually, I suspect, many people who cast their ballots for Mr. Trump — we will endure. Our republic has made it through much worse than anything this two-bit huckster can conjure. More than two centuries ago, a bunch of scrappy colonists won our independence from the premier world power at the time. Since then, we’ve saved the world from tyranny and oppression more than times than most of us can count. We are — and will remain — humanity’s bulwark against those who would threaten freedom. Mr. Trump, no matter his position or the evident appeal of his demagoguery to many Americans, cannot hope to change who we fundamentally are.

Graphic by Al Haug.

So now is the time to regroup, reorganize, and oppose this walking calamity we’ve invited into the White House. We must channel the same underdog spirit that has served us so well in the past. When Mr. Trump challenges our constitution — as he inevitably will — call your representatives and let them know that you expect them not to take it. Vote in every election open to you from now on. Participate in your local government. Be an informed citizen. And most importantly, stand up and speak when you see racism or discrimination. Your birthright as an American carries many privileges, but many obligations too. It’s time to live up to them.

So keep calm and carry on. We’ll get through this. We always have.

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