While the ultra-right celebrates, and the urban areas cry out in protest, the world holds its breath. Out of the shock, a spirit of collaboration painfully emerges.
Tuesday Hillary Clinton won the popular vote (so far and counting) but conceded the election, Wednesday #notourpresident ignited, and today Donald J. Trump is cordially welcomed into the White House as our 45th president-elect. The nation is reeling from the quick succession of events. Many of us were deeply offended by Trump’s cavalier and disrespectful nature while on the campaign trail and did not see him as a legitimate executive branch head, the ultimate ambassador for the United States. He did not seem to represent our strong values of integrity, respect and inclusiveness that we hold dear to our origins as a nation of political and religious refugees. On the one hand, with this outcome that was predicted by political science models, we are humbly reminded of the pendulous nature of national executive branch which has a long history of swinging back and forth between periods of democratic progress and republican recovery. On the other hand, we are confronted with the seemingly antiquated system of the electoral college. The concept and practicality of the electoral college recalls the days of horse drawn carriages, where the maximum size of a county was determined by the furthest corner that could be reached within a one day’s horse ride to the county seat. More weight is afforded each state itself than the population as a whole, de-emphasizing the prevailing sentiments in the urban density of the coasts and favoring the less populated middle states. The results emphasize how we have let down our rural poor adrift in middle America. What makes America truly great is it’s free basic education, higher education opportunities, innovative health care, environmental beauty, richness of the resources and continuous influx of talented immigrants. It reminds me of our responsibility to respect, preserve and further, not shortsightedly diminish, demolish and regress.
We, the VanLaanens, the Seattle, the West Coast, the urban USA, the educated middle class have misgivings, even as all signs of making nice and a smooth transition of power is underway. As charming as Donald Trump is, and as FDR-heralding-New Deal as his victory speech sounded, I feel cautious about how optimistic I can be about Trump’s presidency. I’m skeptical regarding whether he knows how to have the best interest of the environment in mind. Or our country’s social welfare over advancement of his own interest and the financial interests of his friends, other known-quantities-of-dubious-morality financial interests. I’m concerned that the older white under-educated American voter has been misguided into thinking Trump will provide them with a better way of life, when we will in all likelihood head into recession. I’m saddened we will not see the disillusioned and disenfranchised Trump supporters benefiting from Hillary Clinton’s presidential commitment to expanding access to free or affordable daycare, schools, healthcare and to becoming a world-leader in clean energy jobs. I had hoped environmental protection rather than degradation would be our way towards a better future, not by maintaining ignorance and accessing further fossil fuels via foreign wars and domestic plunder strategies. This election has illuminated our nation’s vulnerabilities, and is a call to action to turn the tide on poverty and ignorance in our own country.
Nonetheless, Mr. Trump is a skilled and charismatic individual. He speaks to his audience and he follows his goal with relentless energy. This he will bring to his presidency, and we will all benefit. As he was campaigning he had identified a very specific target, and I was not his audience . Now, we are all his audience and I think we will find that he is extremely cognizant of that and will comport himself accordingly. Furthermore, our country is fundamentally made up of our people and we are all ambassadors of the USA. Lake will soon be a US passport holder, and no, it’s not so we can emigrate, it’s so we can travel in a spirit of exploration, appreciation and cultural exchange!