I originally wanted to write something much longer, putting into words the anxieties, anger, frustrations and a few nuggets of genuine insight into the American mentality that I have gained through this disastrous and shameful presidential election campaign (for which Democratic Party must take some, if not a huge chunk, of blame), but I am now thoroughly exhausted, and it is already past midnight into November 8. I will keep it short.
I am not writing this for anyone else out there, but for myself, to take a brief stock of what it is that I need to do when Donald Trump becomes President of the United States.
This is, for various reasons, unlikely to happen but not impossible. And 2016 has been if nothing else the Year In Which Complacent Expectations Got Backstapped with Sharp Stilettos.
Trump's presidential candidacy has been the most toxic spectacle, the single most damaging incident to American democracy I have witnessed in my lifetime (I have lived in the States for 33 years). And I thought George W. Bush was a horrifying failure! I still have not changed my mind about Bush's and especially Dick Cheney's war crimes, but Trump has already dragged the office of POTUS through the pigsty's floors many times over even before he could be elected to one.
The fact that he is merely unqualified would be bad enough, but what gives his presidency a truly nightmarish quality is his clear, undeniable connection to the "white nationalism" i. e. the ideology of white supremacy, and his hideous denigration of and hostility directed at everyone other than white males: women, blacks, Jews, the disabled, Muslims, LGBT community. (Let's not get into his possibly treasonous capitulation to Vladimir Putin for now. Haven't people got EXECUTED in the United States for selling the state information to the Soviet Union? Is the FBI going to even investigate this orange lardball's involvement with Russia?)
The fact that millions of Americans not only willfully ignored his nakedly racist rhetoric and hateful discourse, but egged him on, indeed showering him with encouragement, I must admit, shocked and disturbed me profoundly.
I won't be a courageous fighter. I will know when things are going to be truly dire, when we see black people shot in the streets routinely and the perpetrators are not prosecuted (which has already happened multiple times), when pogroms take place against Muslim communities (and then to Jewish communities, again), when Mexicans and Latinos face their own version of Kristallnacht, when all progresses made for women's reproductive rights and social equality are systematically reversed: when these things take place all over the country under the Trump presidency-- or whoever succeeds the fascist government he has initiated-- then perhaps I should heed the examples of the Jewish emigres who escaped the Nazis.
But before that happens, before things deteriorate that far, there are things that I could do, that I commit myself to, as a college professor who has served California's pre-eminent public university for 19 years.
1). I will first and foremost put my energies into protecting my minority and immigrant students, reassuaring them that Trump's vision of "Great America" is a rotten anachronism, an idea that a handful of racists/white supremacists are trying to impose on the globalized, new America of twenty-first century, demographically and sociologically already transforming into something beyond their grubby reach. That they need not cower in fear or lose track of their ambition. He will only be the head of the executive branch, and an unimaginably wobbly one at that: after all, I have genuine lived-in experiences to tell the students that even under military dictatorships, the grounds had been laid to overturn them through ordinary citizen's activism and everyday challenges to oppression.
2). I will re-double my efforts to deepen my commitment to academic diversity as well as research subjects that promote peace and understanding among different ethnic and cultural groups. And oh, I think the Trump presidency, as much as the 9/11 had killed off the "postmodern" carny shows, will kill off many "theories" that disparaged "liberalism" in the name of some radical one-upmanship. Communitarianism, my toenails. But in truth, I desperately do not want to see that happen either. A Trump presidency is too much of a sacrifice to pay for the wimpy pleasures of being able to say "I told you so."
3). As I stated above, I am not a fighter-- I will flee the furnace when I begin to smell the burning stench of my own hairs on fire-- but, as much as I can still withstand the heat, I will no longer sit complacently just facing institutional racism or violent languages of exclusion that would no doubt be emboldened by Trump's "success." I am now at the age when I have to be a responsible adult. You won't see me in a cafe phoning my friends in South Korea and blithely telling how this country is going to seed. Instead, I will reach out to the organizations, activists, programs, projects and groups determined to take back the country from Trump and his racist enablers, and work with them to bring the country back to the direction of progress and diversity.
Final words: from November 8 on, whatever the result of the election is, all you arrogant white male Americans who condescendingly looked down on Japan, Germany, Italy, South Korea and other nations and disparaged their "inability to grasp the essence of democracy" or some such American exceptionalist crap, stop bullshitting to my ears.
American democracy is DISEASED. The young ones are probably up to the task of curing it but meanwhile, kindly stop telling me how "great" American democracy is, while allowing the low-grade charlatan like Trump to become the head of its executive branch. There is nothing "great" about the American system that allows this to happen. You have forfeited the right to be ignorantly and arrogantly complacent.
-- Donald Trump bust in the Georgia campaign office. image credit: WSB-TV