It has been a week since Donald Trump became the president-elect. In that week, protests have erupted across the country, hate crimes are rising, people are making plans to move to Canada or Mexico, women are looking to get IUDs, couples are getting married, and division has arguably never been more blatant or destructive in this election cycle.
I’ve heard the endless mantra of “We need to be united.” First of all, it’s really difficult to be united when the president-elect is a person who built his entire campaign on dividing people. It was always us vs. them, “them” being any group that Trump thought a particular audience was afraid of. When I hear, “We need to be united,” I’m really hearing, “Get in line.” I’m hearing, “Conform.” Now, I know that President Obama has said to be unified, and I’m not sure what exactly he means by that, but I know that his role is a unique one. When I hear “unify” from someone random on Facebook, that’s when I’m hearing, “Stop criticizing Trump and Trump supporters.”
That’s not what unity is. Unity is not when one side of a divided pair shuts up, while the other gets to run the show. Frankly, I don’t know how we can be unified right now, because it’s like our values are on total opposite sides of the spectrum. A Trump presidency looks like it’s going to be about restricting women’s rights, gutting healthcare, demonizing Muslims and Mexicans, restricting LGBTQ rights, denying climate change, and so on. What can we unify around? People who voted for Trump are either racist, are willing to tolerate racism, or deny that a Trump presidency is even racist at all. The same goes for sexism. Freedom of religion seems it will only apply to Christianity. Good healthcare is not nationally recognized as a basic human right. WHERE IS THE COMMON GROUND?
People are also saying, “Protests didn’t happen when Obama became president, so accept it and move on.” Okay, so people weren’t necessarily flooding the streets like they are now, but for his entire presidency, they were questioning whether he was born in the United States. That’s definitely a form of protesting the election results. For 8-freaking-years. Also, after every election, there are groups that don’t want to accept the results. It’s just what humans do when something happens they don’t like. However, there is a big difference between the national reaction to Obama and Trump, because TRUMP IS NOT A NORMAL PRESIDENT. I’ve heard the word “normalization” a lot recently with Trump coverage, and that’s exactly what’s happening. The media is normalizing Trump and treating him like he’s just your run-of-the-mill president-elect. Yes, he’s a bit of an outsider, but there’s a silence about just how outside-the-norm he is. What do I mean by that? Here are just a handful of reasons:
- He’s been compared to Andrew Jackson, who redefined the presidency (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-(37928282) http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/rudy-giuliani-trump-win-andrew-jackson-2016-231035)
- White supremacists love him, and he’s been endorsed by the KKK (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/experts-say-white-supremacists-see-trump-last-stand/ )
- He’s hired Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, a move that white supremacists and anti-Semites have applauded
- He is shockingly sexist, and normalizes sexist behavior and sexual assault (http://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/donald-trumps-unconscious-unending-sexism)
- He might very well be a pathological liar
- He is wholly unqualified
The typical “accept and move on” response to the peaceful transition of power following an election does not work in the situation America finds itself in. That’s why we’re having these protests. It is the peoples’ way of shouting, “This is not normal.” Eventually, the protests will stop, but we will need to keep shouting through our actions and activism during Trump’s entire presidency. Even when good things happen, we can’t forget that this is not normal.
Because once we start believing it is normal, America, as we know and love her, is dead.