STATESBORO, GEORGIA – Donald Trump accepted his election as President of the United States of America like a lounge singer accepting a second-rate Las Vegas Strip Entertainer of the Year Award in a badly lit steak buffet. He sauntered up to the microphone, joked about how hard campaigning was, and then read a “heartfelt” speech off a teleprompter. When he was done he had to scurry back from giving supporters thumbs-up because he’d forgotten to thank his running mate. He then found Kellyanne Conway, his campaign head, who he’d also forgotten to acknowledge.
Early reports indicate he’ll fill his cabinet with the stooges he didn’t forget to thank: Rudy Guiliani as Attorney General, Newt Gingrich as Secretary of State, and, topping it all off, Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff. It’s all so repulsive it borders on laughable. But it’s not funny.
Not much is funny anymore.
I’ll never forget how, as Trump’s momentum built last night, my social media was filled with gifs of puppies chasing each other through rooms, of popular sitcom and movie characters reacting to each Trump-won state in fear and panic. Spongebob Squarepants chewing feverishly at his fingernails.
Novelty as the Republic suffered. As a morally and ethically corrupt, intellectually inept, vengeful fascist and his angry mob were handed the keys to the White House.
It’s hard not to see, when looking through the bleary eyes at a quarter ‘til four in the morning, that we fell asleep at the wheel and let democracy down. We were trusted with the greatest experiment in human history and we grew so comfortable and enamored with ourselves that we let the most dangerous man to ever win a nomination walk away with a mandate and full-control of the United States government.
There’s more than enough blame to go around. There was the three billion dollars worth of free exposure cable media gave Trump in his halcyon days, back when nobody in their right mind thought he’d ever win the nomination, much less the presidency. There was the constant horse-racing. The false equivalence journalists tied themselves in knots to find. The psychodrama playing out in the Republican Party that has been brewing since the Civil Rights Era and has now boiled over and consumed the country writ large.
I don’t know what to do about all of that. It’s large and beyond my pay grade. The media can’t help itself and there are generations of brainwashing that the GOP has inflicted on my family and yours. The only thing I can control is myself and I know I deserve a portion of blame. When I was twenty-one years old I was energized by the lead up to the Iraq War and I protested the conflict every opportunity I could. I saw injustice and I was young enough to still throw myself at it like I could break through a wall with nothing but my shoulder and the desire.
Something changed. I got older and I got busier. I got encumbered by deadlines and when I got home from my career I could barely lift my arm I was so tired.
I got complacent.
For my protests I took to social-media and casually liked the articles and statuses that suited my point of view, and if I was especially moved by them I’d retweet or share them. Activism was easy then. It took no physical or emotional energy and it was something I could do to pass the time.
We don’t have that luxury anymore. A bonafide fascist is the president-elect and there are very real consequences looming. The Supreme Court could be altered for a generation. A global war that threatens civilization and demands a careful touch rages daily. And, I say this without hyperbole, the progress we’ve made in securing the rights of men and women of every race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status is now in danger of being negated. We are entering one of the most pivotal eras in American history, and we cannot afford to sit this one out.
It’s time put aside the novelties.
It’s time to participate in the experiment while there’s still time.
This is another shameful, shameful chapter in our country’s history and it will only get worse if the best continue to do nothing. The time for laughing is over.