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The Divided States of America

I didn't get much sleep last night.  I woke with a knot in my stomach.  I am still in shock.  Disbelief.  I don't understand how this happened.

To me, this race wasn't about Trump vs Hillary.  It was about basic human decency vs saying whatever you want to say.  So many of my friends said "both candidates are bad" or some similar phrase.  No.  Emphatically no.  That is not true.  One candidate literally said on live television "You can tell them to go fuck themselves" and was applauded for it.  The other candidate said "When they go low, we go high.  We're stronger together." and she was almost elected, but not quite.

Hillary got about 200,000 more votes than Donald did, which I take as a small consolation prize.  But each candidate got just over 59 million votes.  That means there are 59 million people in this country who believe that Trump was the best person for the job.  Those 59 million people either intentionally or implicitly approve of the hatred Trump spewed during his nearly 2 years of campaigning.

Just as a reminder, here are some of the things Donald said.  They don't bear repeating, even though they have been repeated ad nauseam over the last year and a half.  He has, in his public speeches and on his Twitter account and in other public venues, explicitly uttered racist, homophobic, sexist, and religionist things.  He endorses xenophobia.  He endorses killing innocent people simply because they are related to terrorists.  He endorses torture.  He stands for just about every single horrible thing that humanity has ever committed in history.  And there are (at least) 59 million people in this country who either support him for these very reasons or simply overlook all of that--either one is damning in my view.

According to these statistics, there are 231.5 million eligible voters in the USA.  Of those, 128.8 million voted.  Of the 128.8 million who voted, 59.2 million voted for the man whose entire campaign was based off of and centered around bigotry.  I take some comfort in knowing that there are some of those 59 million who were the kind who overlooked the bigotry rather than those for whom the bigotry was one of their primary reasons to support him.  However, I have seen no statistics on what percent of his voters fall into either camp (nor do I believe that self-reporting surveys would be accurate, since most racist people do not view themselves as racist).

I know I am not alone in this, but I share it anyway.  When Trump announced his candidacy, I just laughed.  He'll be a sideshow.  When he started doing well in the polls I was stunned.  Every time he said something horrible, his poll numbers went up.  I took comfort in telling myself "that's just among conservatives.  The general population isn't as bigoted as radical right-wingers".  I watched Nate Silver's prognostication studiously.  I was surprised that there were times when the numbers were close to 50-50, but glad to see that near the end Hillary had a significant chance of winning.  I was shocked.  Stunned.  Floored.  Flabbergasted.  When the election results came in.  I know other people have expressed similar feelings, but it really did seem surreal.  Is this really happening?  Is the country really picking the bigot over the well-spoken, well-experienced woman?  How?  Why?  Who are these people who think that the child with an orange face in an old man's body is going to be the best hope for America?

I'm hurt.  I'm angry.  I'm upset.  I'm confused.  I don't live in the country that I thought I lived in.  I thought I lived in a country that welcomed people who are different.  I thought I lived in a country where people were given opportunities to make a better life for themselves regardless of what their background was.  I want to live in a country like that.  I want to live in a country where a bully is ignored and ostracized rather than put on center stage and in control of the world's most powerful military.  I want to live in a country that believes in tolerance more than fear.  But clearly that is not the country I live in.  I take comfort in knowing that only 18% of the nation's total population actually voted for Trump.  So it's possible that the bigotry isn't as widespread as it seems from the election results.  But it is certainly disheartening and it has certainly damaged my faith in the humanity of Americans.

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