US Election 2016

As you know, I try to keep this blog away from politics. There are areas of my life that are highly political and politicized, but this is generally not one of them. However, this election is important enough to me, to the United States, and to the world that I would be negligent as both a concerned citizen and an educator if I did not discuss it.

When I got to work today, for the first time ever, I cried in a school bathroom. And then in a dean’s office. And then in the faculty room. And then during an all-school assembly.

I am in shock. I am afraid. I am deeply concerned about the rhetoric that we are permitted. I am sick over the devastation and human suffering that we are allowing. I am watching the world change and I will forever look at it differently.

I still don’t know what to say to my students.

I spent the morning listening to the news and reading articles about what happened, what to do now, and what to do next.

This is an article from The Washington Post that evaluates modern (Clinton) and postmodern (Trump) values. I think does a nice job of explaining how society has shifted its priorities to bring us to where we are. Author Barton Swaim:

Intellectual historians refer to the period from 1600 to 1945 (more or less) as the “modern” period. It’s always risky to generalize, but truth in the modern era was something objective and knowable, and knowable through material and scientific means (thus not through divine revelation). During the second half of the twentieth century, however, that view of truth was undermined in various ways. Poststructuralism in philosophy, abstraction in art, twelve-tone serialism in music, absurdist fiction in literature — all these things, variously categorized as “postmodernism,” posed direct challenges to the older “modern” view of truth….

For two generations or more, American liberals have cheered postmodern attitudes in art, literature, music and philosophy. Now it has entered politics, and it’s time to panic.

We can panic, but we also need to act. This article from The New Yorker addresses what we are facing with a Trump presidency and how we must uphold the American ideals of democracy, fairness, justice, freedom, and compromise as we move forward. Author David Remnick:

The most hopeful way to look at this grievous event – and it’s a stretch – is that this election and the years that follow will be a test of the strength, or the fragility, of American institutions. It will be a test of our seriousness and resolve….

Trump was not elected on a platform of decency, fairness, moderation, compromise, and the rule of law; he was elected, in the main, on a platform of resentment. Fascism is not our future – it cannot be; we cannot allow it to be so – but this is surely the way fascism can begin….

It is all a dismal picture. Late last night, as results were coming in from the last states, a friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To call out authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals – that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.

Additionally, this is an article by a friend who I spoke with this morning on my way to school. He and I have talked a lot about the state of the world over the past year and we share a number of the same concerns about the future. Many of those ideas are collected here. Kyle Fitzgibbons:

In much the same vein that 9/11 blasted us into a world that clearly demonstrated an entire group’s complete lack of respect for our values and a willingness to use violence to meet their own ends, this election should result in a similar awakening in us of the very real truth that our facts and progress do not matter to a large group of our fellow citizens. People we thought we understood because they look like us and speak the same language.

If we value our ideals of liberty, love, justice, decency, diversity, dignity, and incremental betterment, then we must admit that we may need to fight for them with tools beyond the ones we are accustomed to using.

There is a lot to think about going forward. We have put the United States in a place that was unimaginable even yesterday. We can no longer stand by and wait for things to change. We must change them.

8 thoughts on “US Election 2016”

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