rants

The American Dream is a Segregated Nightmare

Hate won last night. Hate won after a long, gruelling campaign.

And no, when I say “hate”, I don’t mean Trump.

But if that’s what you think I mean when I say “hate”, then hate is still winning.

I want to preface this by claiming that I am Canadian, not American. And as a Canadian, I watched the American election so much more closely than I did the Canadian election last year. I was so determined to stay awake and watch until the end…but I fell asleep and woke up to learn Donald Trump is president-elect with a majority house and senate.

It took me a long time to decide how I was going to approach this. I considered talking about the flaws of democracy and the American electoral college, but I know nothing about political science. I thought about condemning people who didn’t vote or voted third party, but I’m not an American.

I thought about calling out the obnoxious Trump supporters who are commenting on any and all posts upset about the results of the election. I actually replied back to some because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t handle the “in your face” and “a criminal lost” attitude that was blanketing the internet.

I keep thinking about last year, when everyone saw Trump running as a presidential candidate and said, “Oh, he’s not actually going to win. It’s a joke.”

Well, it’s not a joke anymore.

One of the most compelling things I’ve heard about a Trump presidency is concern about how parents are supposed to teach their children after this. How can you tell your children to be open-minded, to think before they speak, to be respectful–if the person who was chosen to run their country won by acting against these principles?

I think it’s possible to still teach children this values. I’m upset that Trump is president, but it’s a slap in the face. It wakes me up. And I think it woke the world up.

The American Dream is a segregated nightmare.

As the votes rolled in last night, I kept wanting to see the demographic data. How many people voted? How old are they? Their race? Their gender?

I finally found some answers on the internet, and while they shocked me, they also revolted me. In every single metric–gender, age, education level, race–the people were divided. It is very clear in the data that the old, the white, the male, and less educated populations wanted Tump, and the female, the black and hispanic, the young, and the more educated wanted Clinton.

And it’s not like these factors have never been in play before. The data tracks back for a few decades, and the trends are there.

But never before have we put such an emphasis on the division.

And this is where I think the lesson is. Trump won because America was more focused on hating. Trump won because everyone was thinking “us versus them” and “we are better/our policies are better/our way of thinking is better”. And the numbers show it in how narrowly the presidency was won and in how divided the demographics are.

Trump won because hate was used to fuel this election.

And it’s easy to say that Trump won using hate. He and his supporters singled out non-white non-male non-heteronormative populations as the other. And as soon as those populations were categorized as “other”, it immediately became a battle of “us versus them”. It became a war of scandal and accusations and prejudice and a demand for Trump’s tax returns for every demand of Clinton’s emails. Both sides are equally guilty of using hate to win the election.

Hate shouldn’t be the way to win anything. I imagine that some people may see Trump’s rise to president-elect as an amazing underdog story. The man who everyone thought was a joke but turns out is moving into the White House.

It sounds like the sort of awe-inspiring story we like to read about, right?

But what I’ve learned from the 2016 US election is that it’s not about making your way to the top. It’s not about personal pride and showing people what your worth. It’s not about showing everyone that an underdog can win by playing the odds and doing whatever it takes.

What matters more are the tiny kindnesses. About thinking about the betterment of mankind instead of how to win. About respect and concern instead of talking down the opposition’s ideas until all you hear is accusations and fear.

Earlier today I posted Stephen Colbert’s speech on the election, and I still maintain that it is the victory speech we need to hear. The victory isn’t in that a winner has been decided, it’s that the election is over. That we can take a step back now and try to stop thinking about “us versus them” (despite what vocal Trump supporters on the internet would have you believe) and more about “us, all of us, in the future”.

Because that’s what we’re supposed to be doing, even when there isn’t an election.

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