A line of Voices across the land: Folio 1
SUGGESTED SOUNDTRACK for this article. "There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in . . .” By the great poet and songwriter who will always be in the hearts of those who treasure the wise troubadour.
I felt a surge of real anger . . . I was not part of their powerful club.
For a lot of us, Trump’s win isn’t just a shock — it’s a surprise. We know it wasn't just racism. The stats show that many of Trump’s white voters went for Obama in ’08 and ’12. But if you prefer an anecdote: remember the pollster in ’08 who telephoned a white, Southern household and got a woman on the phone who called to her husband? He said, “I’m voting for the n***er.” So, in 2016, it wasn’t just white supremacist rage. It was a different kind of rage.
We had a mayor in Toronto who was in some ways a cultural precursor to Trump. His name was Rob Ford and he was famous for crude statements, anti-tax policies and saying the first thing that bubbled up from his furious, drugged-addled id. And people loved him . . . well, very many did. I couldn’t understand that love any more than I understand the support for Trump — until one evening when I suddenly felt I did.
That evening, I came home tired from work and turned on the TV. Our recently elected provincial premier was being interviewed by a sophisticated political reporter about a scandal involving cancelling gas-fired electricity plants. I only knew the vague basics of the subject, but these two were batting back and forth at a very detailed level, the premier dodging, the reporter politely countering. The wonky details of a commission of inquiry, rules of the legislature, and so on.
It seemed to me suddenly that these two were part of the same game — part of the same cabal of those who knew and had the privilege of power. They were on the Inside and I was on the Outside. I felt a surge of real anger. I was not part of their powerful club. And I thought, “This is why they like Rob Ford. He felt he was on the outside. He felt that anger of not being part of the Inside, and he spoke for all us dumb fucks who are on the Outside looking In to where the gang makes all the decisions and looks down on us.” Now, of course we all know it is important that journalists know the issues and that premiers need to be on the inside to make decisions, and that I was far from powerless. Rationally, the resentful Outsider view was false. But the feeling was not.
Both Rob Ford and Donald Trump had the gift of seeming authentically angry about that Inside and the Outside. Sure, lots of politicians claimed to speak for the Outsiders. But you can see clearly that it is a lie. With Ford and Trump, their speech, their way of thinking, seemed honest and authentic. It’s not that when they were crude or racist or obscene (Ford was the first politician to use the word “pussy” in public, and he knew he was being recorded), that that somehow wasn’t bad enough to hurt them: it actually helped them because the crude language affirmed their lack of polish, their lack of duplicity. It affirmed that they were on the Outside. Like us. And so they won the votes of millions of Outsiders.
— Barry Stevens, documentary filmmaker, Toronto
You have no idea how unsettling this whole election is here.
10 TEN DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION, a loyal reader/supporter of ours wrote to complain that our article "Trump and the Jeffersonian Vision", which we had just sent out an email about, was about Trump as Jefferson. He hadn't read the article, but it triggered him, for reasons we're now coming to understand.
Hey, I love the introduction of white into the JWC graphic format, as I've long advocated. The look of this mailer is great. HOWEVER, for you to introduce an article about the Jeffersonian aspect of Donald Trump is sad and very inappropriate. You have no idea how unsettling this whole election is here. And it is ten days away. You and Comey! Why do you think you should wade at this last minute into this unsettling morass of an election? A journalistic faux pas.
G—, retired artist, Los Angeles
I CURL UP. I AVOID THE NEWS. I WAIT TO AWAKE . . .
Starting the night of November 8th, I have had a sense of complete discontinuity with what was real 10 minutes ago, as on 9/11. I’ll think about something else for a while, then come back to the election, and be swamped by the multi-faceted, surrounding horror.
This is already a different country from what it was two weeks ago. For Trump’s election has legitimized bullying, vengefulness, lying, know-nothing-ism and violent bigotry.
And Trump’s ascendancy doesn’t just mean grit-your-teeth for four years. His damage will last a generation, in at least these three areas:
• Dismantling environmental regulations at a time when climate change has already reached the tipping point.
• Our Supreme Court. Already missing one member, three others are 78 or older, and one has serious health problems. Trump will likely propose very conservative judges who may also be mediocre jurists. And the Republican-controlled Senate will confirm them. If they are, say, 40, they will serve for a generation and a half.
• Likely cronyism on the infrastructure rebuilding that will start now. Similar to what happened in the “W” administration, when VP Dick Cheney made a sweetheart no-bids deal with his former employer Halliburton to build schools in Iraq and the work was so shoddy that sewage seeped through ceilings into classrooms.
And then of course there’s slicing back Obamacare; overturning Roe v. Wade, thus denying women the right to an abortion; inciting violence against many groups; and putting incompetents, crooks and wing nuts in important positions (e.g. Pence, Giuliani, Gingrich, Bannon, Christie, Palin, and Carson)..
I keen. I curl up and suck my thumb. I avoid TV news. I wait to wake from the nightmare.
— Heidi, editor and writer, New York City
I could not console him about the results . . .
A LETTER SENT out to a network of friends on Wednesday morning
I and our folks at work at the American Sustainable Business Council have spent all day crafting press releases and statements to our broader community and beginning our next round of strategizing. But I wanted to share a more personal note with you.
I got a text from my son G. at midnight last night. It read, “Please help. I’m stressing so much.”
When we spoke on the phone a few minutes later, I could not console him about the results and what it means for the country and the lives of so many people. Or, on the issues that are important to him and to his mother and sister and our broader family and friends.
But what I did tell him is that it is even more important for him and us to do what we can — to be even smarter and strategic — and to keep educating and organizing.
I do know that is in times like this it is even more important for people like us that care so much about others and this beautiful earth and bring such passion and talent to those efforts each in our own way to remember that we are not alone.
Our work is more important than ever before. We certainly need to go deep and figure out our strategies and opportunities.
But as I also told G., we need to remember that we have each other, our families and our wider community.
Thank you for being you and for everything that you do and I so glad that we are traveling on this journey together.
— David, community organizer on economic issues, New York City
I want to ask them now, “What do you want of me and the others that you have threatened?”
A LETTER RESPONDING to a text from Canada after the election, "So, ready to come home?”
Dear M—, Oh, my, a good question, really. If my wife weren't a doctor with a big practice we would be coming to join you in Toronto immediately. And who knows, it may happen yet. But I think we have to stand our ground and put our backs together and figure out how to control the horrible power against us that he's unleashed. We are very depressed and in shock today. He can roll back our right to be married, he can roll back abortion rights, immigrants rights and racial tolerance. He hasn't read a book. He represents something so foreign to me. So today I have to start learning how to deal with it. We are going to our regular nails appointment and have to talk with all the Cuban girls there who voted for him. So that's where I'm starting. I want to ask them now what do you want of me and the others that you have threatened? In a genuine way, not criticizing, in case they see what they have wrecked; that their chosen leader could undo my marriage, and that Esther and I are people they really like, and we like them as people as well. I don't think Trump voters thought much about the actual consequences. But they did feel they wanted a voice and he was it. It's the historical fact that this is the way revolutions start and sadly most end up as dictatorships. So you can see hat your simple question opened my floodgates cause I'm really very very sad and somewhat frightened. But I'm glad to know you are there and my family cares and that we have a place to come where we are welcome, sincerely M—. This is a turning point in the history of the world and you are a young witness. Be grateful for your beautiful liberal country and take all your responsibilities to heart. You can make a difference in your acts and your attitudes and your work ethic and your kindness to others. And thank you for thinking of us. Though I know it was a joke, it really wasn’t. We may just take you up on it. Remember too, I now am in a big Jewish family and they've been through other dark periods Nazism and Soviet Union repression and last night they were all asking, “Can we go to Canada?!!” I said I'll adopt you all. Love to you, M—.
— Sharon Smith, Canadian-born composer and film music editor, Miami
The deans and the chancellor are issuing statements of support for everyone in the community.
I'm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a once reliably blue state since 1992. I was out canvassing on election day and it seemed very positive, the early results good. At least I can say my home county remained solid blue. It's cold comfort though as winter approaches.
I work at the University of Pittsburgh and the department heads, deans, and the chancellor are issuing statements of support for everyone in the community. And also reminding concerned members of faculty, staff — and particularly the student body — that even if the incoming administration revokes portions, or all of Title IX*, Title IX is firmly "a university policy that we can continue to uphold because it addresses a crucial issue of the safety and good treatment of all of us here, an issue we should be concerned about as a university. We can hold to it because it’s a good policy or modify it to make it better without a federal mandate.
— Ms. Brown, WWI historian and researcher, Pittsburgh
* No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
A NEW MOTIVATION, AS NEVER BEFORE
I am a voting American living in London. I can only say that this campaign has been a shame throughout culminating in a yet greater shame. I am still too dismayed with the end result to gather my thoughts in a coherent way, but here are some adjectives that come to mind: disappointment, alienation, insecurity, sadness, confusion, anger. The saving grace however is that this experience has motivated me to seek a way to help affect a positive change in US government, as never before. No socially conscious person can stand by any longer, waiting for someone else to do the right thing.
— Susan, garden designer, London
I feel a renewed sense of purpose and a more urgent calling to try . . .
I'm still very much in a state of shock and disbelief about what the election of Trump says about the American psyche. As an Egyptian immigrant, I hardly recognize the inclusive, high-minded USA that I chose to make my home, nearly a decade ago, amid this sexist, racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic current atmosphere. With the mounting fear and outright hatred surrounding Arabs, Muslims, and immigrants lately, I feel a renewed sense of purpose and a more urgent calling to try, in some small way, to heal our wounds through my writing.
It was around 8 years ago that I was lucky to be granted a visa in the category of Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, and with it a new life in the USA as both a citizen and an artist. Now, more than ever, I feel the work begins in trying to serve as a kind of cultural bridge to our divide.
— Yahia Lababidi, Eygytian-American poet and writer, Washington, D. C.
View our CALL TO ACTION that has requested that our readers send us their reflections in the wake of the recent US election.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.