It’s hard to know where to stand on matters in the wake of Donald Trump’s acquittal. Even a week removed, I’m still trying to process the whole idea. It seems impossible, and yet, I think most acts of corruption seem impossible when you witness them in real-time.
I was never certain that Donald Trump would be a one-term president, but I was confident before. I’m less confident now. While I think the far-fetched conspiracy theories about denying the election or litigating himself to a victory are significantly less far-fetched than they once were, I think it’s a little early just yet to be subscribing to them wholesale. No, in the wake of the acquittal, I think many of us need to face some very uncomfortable truths about this country.
The first is that I think many white people (of which I am one), owe a lot of minorities an apology (more than the usual ones, too). Many of my black and Hispanic friends have long tried to convey to me just how deeply rooted racism was in this country. I didn’t disbelieve them – quite the opposite, I tried to be aware of what they pointed out to me – but I often found myself thinking (or rather, hoping), that they were experiencing worst-than-usual luck or they’re experience was ultimately atypical. Ultimately, I wanted to believe that racism was on its way out. With the appointment of Donald Trump, it’s become clear that was very wrong and dangerously so. I owe every black person who tried to tell me otherwise a sincere apology for not more fervently believing them.
The second truth is that a large swath of this country simply does not care about the survival of the rest of the country. I don’t care to theorize on percentages or numbers. I just feel we need to accept that a sizeable portion of Americans feel nothing for the poor, the starving, the sick, the infirm, the marginalized. I thought compassion was an American trait, one that our country actively cultivated. Evidence suggests otherwise.
The third truth is that a sizeable portion of Americans care more about the appearance than the substance of a thing. It would seem that many Americans don’t care if a person acts a certain way, so long as they appear to be a certain way. A person doesn’t have to be a winner; if they look like a winner, that’s enough. A person doesn’t have to be Christian; it is more than acceptable for them to merely look like one. I thought America had a better sense of hypocrisy and reality. Again, I have been proven wrong.
The fourth truth is that many Americans don’t care about the rest of the world. Whether this is the same disregard for marginalized people as above, or an active disregard for anything outside America’s borders, I couldn’t say. But I thought Americans were educated enough to realize that we are all apart of the global community. Again, the evidence of late clearly suggests a vocal subset thinks the country exists on an island of manifest destiny.
The fifth lesson to be taken into account seems to be the notion that many Americans don’t care about winning, so long as someone they’ve been told to not like loses. The ability to endure pain and anguish so long as someone else endures more is horrid and it seems to be a prized American trait these days.
Right-wing pundits and conservatives espouse that ‘this is Trump’s America’. Yes, it is. It is racist, xenophobic, hate-filled, and actively hurtling itself towards ruin. That is Trump’s America.
I’d be lying if I said I knew what to do from here. I’d be lying if I said ‘we can undo this with the next election’. Voting is unquestionably more important than ever, but even if we vote out every single last conservative (which is about the only way to save this country and its soul), the damage will still be long-lasting. The betrayal of our ideals and our honor, our decency, our most basic tenets, will be a long, long time in fixing. If it can be fixed at all.
People have died. Lives have been ruined, and ended. And trust in the most basic tenets of our society, of our culture, of our world, has been irrevocably broken.
This is America.