After each election, the populace is divided in two camps. Far from clearly-labelled factions of “Democrat” and “Republican,” these camps differ as to how to move forward under the new President-elect: the “come together” camp and the “he’s not my president” camp.
And without fail, each President-elect calls for unity in the hours after the results of the election are announced. Donald Trump followed this trend, likely having been intensely guided by advisors as to the perfect tone he needed to hit in his victory speech.
Disagreements abound as to whether we should love our fellow man, despite our political and ideological differences, or whether we should sever ties with those whose beliefs we find untenable and abhorrent.
I am a lifelong Democrat. “Lifelong” here is a bit of a misnomer: though I’ve been in existence for 30 years, my voting history only goes back 12. In each of the prior presidential elections, I decided long before the race was over to support whosoever become our next leader. As a first-generation Indian-American female that was born in the United States, I’ve never known any other country as “home.” My parents, both born and raised in India, had significant loyalties to both countries because they had significant histories with each. I, however, had no such split focus: the United States of America has been my home from the first breath I took and I planned for it to stay my home until the last.
In this election cycle, however, something snapped. Many of us decided we could not continue to maintain relationships with those that supported Trump. I, like many other Americans in disbelief at the depths of evil displayed during this race, can’t simply will myself to begin embracing Trump and his supporters with love and acceptance.
Because, the truth is, I’m waiting to receive my star.
Much has been written and stated about this election cycle being different than any other. I’m not alone in feeling that the man we’ve elected to be our next president has already displayed his true, repugnant character with nearly every word he spoke during his campaign. I’m not alone in wanting to discuss the fear running through several groups of Americans who don’t look like Donald Trump. Nearly every sect of the American public except straight, white men can point to a pejorative word or action Donald Trump has said or done against them.
But we discuss it and then we move on.
We’re expected to maintain friendships and relationships with people in our lives that directly supported a bigot. We’re criticized for severing ties with those that supported Trump. We’re told we’re overreacting and being hysterical and that we’ve “survived bad presidents and political discord before.”
The truth is, some of us have “survived” bad presidents and political discord before. Some of us, like the Japanese-Americans who were subject to poor medical care or overly trigger-happy guards citing “resistance” in the internment camps of WWII, have not.
Before WWII, a bigot rose to power in Germany by exploiting fear. In 2016 in America, a bigot has risen to power by exploiting fear. And now, that bigot has appointed another well-known bigot to his cabinet.
Does that sound extreme? Does being worried about the future of black Americans, brown Americans, gay Americans, female Americans and other minority groups smack of hysteria and immediately bring up a “that could never happen in America” response in you?
What about a president that once vowed to ban an entire religious group from this country? Or a president that blamed those of a different race for violent crime in America?
If those remarks aren’t extreme, it’s also not extreme to suggest that our new president will behave like any powerful egomaniac who keeps obtaining more power: by escalating his rhetoric and then his actions incrementally until we’re considering it normal to brand groups of Americans with a large yellow star. We’re then but a short distance away from an even worse future for minority groups as the next incremental escalation happens.
As the election progressed, many of us already began simply rolling our eyes every time Trump said the next outrageous thing. He was treated as a joke and expected to test the limits of what the American public felt was human decency.
We’ve now elected him. And now, minority groups are being told we’re overreacting to the threat of a Trump presidency.
But how long until we begin rolling our eyes every time Trump announces the next group required to wear a star?