In 2016, 62,984,828 Americans voted for Donald Trump, a mostly unknown albeit suspect political commodity. Perhaps it was the frustration with the existing system and the perception they needed to send a clear message they wanted change.
Most were sincere in seeking change; but some sought a return to the days of white hegemony and cultural homogeneity, longing for a delusive memory of a better America.
But whatever the reason, Mr. Trump won, and the country soon came to understand what it had done to itself.
It didn’t take long for a rise of white supremacist groups, ignored at best or encouraged at worst by the President, to rise up all over this country and show the dark underbelly of the nation.
Now, four years later, armed with the painful memories of shooting ourselves in the foot to support a man who clearly assumed a position way beyond his snake-oil salesman abilities, 70,903,094 (and still counting, although thankfully it won’t matter) Americans voted for that same train wreck of a President.
In 2016, many of those who voted for Trump could be forgiven since, to borrow a line used before another injustice, “they know not what they do.”
In 2020, there is no such excuse.
Maybe those of us who think of America as a nation of civility and tolerance are going the way of the dinosaurs.
Those of us who yearned for the respect and admiration of the world, not their fear.
Those of us who see science as the way to the future, not an inconvenient truth to be mocked and ignored.
Those of us who seek to embrace our differences, not suppress or subjugate those with whom we differ.
Those of us who long for tolerance and openness.
Those of us who see the greatness of America not in our military power, but in the character of those of us willing to defend this nation against those who would do us harm. They act as defenders, not conquerors.
Those of us who would then offer those same enemies a path back into the global community.
Those of us who are outraged by violent protests against those of different philosophies.
Those of us who are offended by white (or any other) supremacy,
Those who remember our cultural melting pot makes America unique globally.
Those who do not seek to homogenize the country by forcing everyone to our own image.
Maybe those of us, confused by so many of our fellow Americans embracing the tired old philosophies of nationalism, militarism, and global confrontation, are the ones fading into history.
Maybe our time has run its course, and the virus of intolerance has rendered this country unable to sustain our multicultural society.
If this is our new reality, I fear the promise of an America with a long future ahead will follow us into the fog of history.
We will be the vestiges of a once-thriving experiment uncovered by those seeking to answer what happened.
America deserves better than this. The world now knows the dark secret of this once-promising nation. And, as long as the potential for such a repeat of self-destruction exists, they will see us with a jaundiced eye. They will no longer look to us as a beacon of hope but as a bellwether of lost promise and the faded shadow of a better future.
In 2016, America lost its moral compass. While we may not have drifted as far into the darkness like some other nations in history, we were teetering on the brink.
And over 70 million Americans voted for us to stay the course. SEVENTY MILLION!
Once our Presidents accepted the will of the people with grace and humility, calling upon our better angels. Now one summons the devils of our own destruction.
We can only hope this election was not the last desperate grasp of rationality but a portent of a return to our higher calling. But we would be wise to be vigilant to our own potential for self-destruction.
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