I remember where I was when the Challenger exploded. I remember where I was when the Towers came down. I remember where I was when Shock and Awe turned Baghdad into a bowl of fire. I do believe I will also remember, to my dying day, where I was when the people of the United States elected an unabashed, bull-throated fascist to the office of the President.
Yes, we are talking about a fascist, one with many fascist friends who are loud and proud about their menacing white nationalism, a fascist gleefully endorsed by a Ku Klux Klan that traded in its bedsheets for power ties a long time ago and seized the ultimate prize in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016. A fascist Mussolini would have recognized on sight, for it was Mussolini’s movement that coined fascism in a barn nearly 100 years ago, calling it the merger of state and corporate power. What is that, if not President-elect Donald J. Trump?
The children of immigrants all across the United States woke this morning in a country soon to be led by an unapologetic xenophobe threatening mass deportation, and American Muslims woke to an era of intensified Islamophobia that may take paths we haven’t yet conceived of.
Every woman in the country now wears a target, because the President of the United States considers them to be little more than sex toys. Boys will see this, boys will learn it, and some of them will likely act on it when they become men. My daughter now lives under this threat, as does yours.
And we can only imagine how the ongoing war on Black men, women and children will continue to worsen under this authoritarian leader, all in the name of that cold steel fist called “Law and Order.”
Impossible, the talking heads on TV said as the returns rumbled in. What he proposed during his campaign was so preposterous, so contra-constitutional, that it could never actually happen. This from representatives of the same mainstream media establishment that first empowered him so many strange months ago. It will never happen, they said.
Really? How will it be stopped? The Republicans all but ran the congressional table on Tuesday night, ensuring that Mr. Trump will control both the House and the Senate come January. Anything is constitutional, even torture and murder, if the Supreme Court says it is.
Our newly minted fascist president-elect will have at least two years with a GOP-controlled Congress to pack the high court and spray the Capitol dome with all manner of vicious legislation and surly nominations, and the GOP will probably allow him to do so, lest it incur his celebrated wrath. We have all seen the courage of that crew; to call it wanting is an undeserved gift. As for the Democrats? They got rolled nationally by a gifted con man. The idea that they will suddenly rise to this astonishing challenge is hardly worth entertaining. Pudding has more potential.
Mr. Trump molded his entire campaign around hate, vengeance and violence. In doing so, he unleashed a monstrous tide. The people who pummeled protesters and elderly women wearing oxygen tanks, who screamed “Lock her up” while wearing shirts that read “Grab her by the pussy” at rallies, and who menaced people of color who were trying to vote — they are his true master now. Nobody fears the Brownshirts more than their leader, because he is all too aware of what they are capable of doing. If Donald Trump does not follow his oft-repeated program to the letter, if he does not attempt to imprison Hillary Clinton for daring to challenge him, work to obliterate the Affordable Care Act, move to de-fund Planned Parenthood, strive to revoke the hard-won rights of LGBTQ Americans, try to build a wall along the Mexican border, attempt to deport more than 10 million people, try to ban all Muslims from entering the country, advocate for imposing even more surveillance and policing on Black communities, punish women for having an abortion, torture the innocent — if he does not do these things, it’s entirely possible that the dogs he let slip from the leash will turn on him … and he knows it.
There were a few bright spots in the gloom. Notorious authoritarian sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona was unceremoniously shown the door by the voters of Maricopa County. Tammy Duckworth will be a senator from Illinois next year. Medical or recreational marijuana was approved in Massachusetts, California, Florida, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and Arkansas, though one wonders how long these victories will stand under a Trump/Pence administration.
There is also this: your solemn right to resist. This is not over, but only beginning. “When I despair,” said Mahatma Gandhi, “I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.”
“Think of it,” he said, “always.”
A little before 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, New York City time, a phone rang in Trump Tower. The Democratic nominee was calling to concede the race. Not long afterward, the fascist mounted a stage with his family. An army of white faces was arrayed before him under the brims of red hats. They roared and chanted in a frenzy until the beams thrummed. The fascist was wreathed in graciousness and promised the moon and stars. From now on, he said, nothing but the best for us. He did not linger long, for he had plans to lay, and many new “friends” to help build his future.
We walk the long hall of history together now, the fascist, you and I. There is a grim and inescapable responsibility in this. How will you stand, and how will you walk?