I just took a very long, slow walk through the Christmas shops in Bryant Park. I exited my office building, crossed the street, and the first thought that entered my head was,
“It’s still here.”
New York is still here. America is still here. It hasn’t gone anywhere, and it isn’t going to go anywhere. It has survived times far worse than what we’re about to go through. It survives because no matter what, America is a place where friends can disagree.
I have allowed anger to control a lot of the decisions I’ve made over the past week. I have used words I shouldn’t have and I have lashed out at people I shouldn’t have. I told myself I was fighting against some great evil, that my rage and my anger could somehow make things right if I just felt them enough.
I have a lot of anger right now. I’m angry at my country for electing a bigot when the alternative was not a bigot. I’m angry at the leaders of both of our political parties for so carelessly driving us to the place we’ve found ourselves in. I’m angry at a press that was supposed to hold them in check, but only served to further their narratives and drive us all against each other. I am angry at myself for doing less than I feel I could have to stop this. And I’m especially angry at the guy that called me a fag last week. What the hell, dude?
But I need to be honest about the person that deserves the staggeringly vast amount of this anger: Donald Trump.
I am most angry at Donald Trump because he saw a deeply divided, vulnerable nation and thought, “Hey, I can use this.”
He used us, like he has used everything and everyone he has ever come into contact with in his entire life, to further his own personal glory. I’m furious at him for all of us, red and blue alike. He tore us apart. We aren’t this, we aren’t like him. We’re better than him.
All of us are. Every single American that chooses love over hatred is better than him, and those people are on both sides of the aisle. Some of them voted for Trump. Some of them voted for Hillary. Some of them voted for someone else, and many more of them didn’t vote at all.
That’s OK! God damn it everyone, it’s OK that we didn’t all vote the same way!
I know that this was not even remotely a normal election, and that he was not a normal candidate. I know that our anger right now is righteous, and that we are not angry simply because our candidate didn’t win. Many of our fellow Americans’ rights and safety are going to be threatened over the next four to eight years. (Yeah guys, start saying it now. Donald Trump might be our President until 2024.) We will fight to protect them. I will continue to raise my voice for anyone who is too scared to. I will never, ever let my country move ahead while leaving any of my fellow citizens behind.
Perhaps there were some citizens who felt left behind that I didn’t recognize. I’m seeing that now. If I haven’t heard you, I want to hear you. If you feel like you have something to say, I want you to raise your voice, even if you think I’m going to write you off as “deplorable”. (I see now how mind-bogglingly myopic it was for her to say that. “Basket of deplorables”? Who talks like that?) I will do my best to listen to you.
To those who don’t understand why I’m protesting: there are people who are too scared to raise their voices right now. These are not just people who exist in the abstract or pictures I’ve seen in a Huffington Post slideshow. These are people I personally know who have shared their experiences on Facebook or reached out to me privately. They have shared their experiences, thanked me for speaking out, and said my words have provided them with consolation or inspiration. For them, I’m going to continue speaking out.
You may not understand that, or even agree with that statement. That’s OK. I have faith that you eventually will, because you are not like Donald Trump. Or David Duke. Or Ann Coulter. You are genuine human beings with empathy and compassion in your hearts. I think you have been tricked by a twisted, bigoted charlatan into voting against yours, mine, and everyone else’s interests, and I think you will eventually see that. But hey, maybe he turns out to be a giant blowhard who can’t actually get anything done. We’ll see.
For now, we have to be able to disagree about that and still be friends.
I’ve spent the week screaming at people on Facebook who I’ve been friends with for over a decade. I am so angry, my skin has literally been breaking out in rashes all over my body. That’s my own fault for letting my rage consume me. If you’ve known me in person at any point in my life, you would know I’m not an angry person. All I’ve ever wanted to do is bring people together, to make people laugh, and to make people connect. I am someone who sincerely wants to bring joy into the world, but the past week has been one of the darkest I’ve ever gone through.
There was a brief point where I seriously thought I was ready to cut people out of my life who voted for Donald Trump. That is absurd.
Donald Trump is going to do many terrible things to me, my family, my friends, and my fellow Americans over the next four to eight years. But I will be DAMNED if he is going to take my people away.
Friends and fellow Americans, we’re going to disagree on a lot for a long time. I am going to continue raising my voice on behalf of the people in this country who are terrified. I can’t just switch off my anger, but I’m going to do my damnedest to examine it, understand it, and make sure I’m channeling it in the right direction. I’m going to protest, I’m going to organize, and I’m going to write, because it’s the thing I do best. I’m going to stop doing it on Facebook, and start doing it on a medium that matters. I’m going to use humor to poke a demagogue in the eye, and I’m going to try to bring joy into your lives at a time when there will be so, so much hate.
Take care of yourselves, and be well.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons