America: What on earth have we done?

Shell-shocked.. I set an alarm to check results around 1:00 AM, but fell asleep feeling good from the promising early results. Needless to say I haven’t slept since. I wanted to try and organize the mess of thoughts cracking my head open right now.

First.. to my friends who immigrated to the US to better your life, to those in marginalized communities, those with disabilities, sexual assault survivors, the LGBTQ community, those born with the deck stacked against them,  the Muslim community, the Hispanic community: Take strength from the fact that the result of this election will not set back the progress that has been made. The rights of you and your loved ones that you have fought for over the last hundred years will be defended with all this nation has. I understand how easy that is for me to say.. I am a straight white male who is probably insulated from most of the negative ramifications of last night. Still, for whatever my voice is worth, understand that I (and much of America) will do whatever it takes to support you

(Edit: I was given some advice saying this section came across as a bit insensitive. Fair point. Things are scary and promises have been made that would clearly make things worse. I only mean to say that the majority of voters who voted against Trump and what he stands for will do everything they can. Apologies.  http://www.cracked.com/blog/dear-white-people-stop-saying-everything-will-be-ok/ Illustrates what I mean)

The Fear: 

Having said that, this dementor-esque darkness is not likely to lift any time soon. The fact that a man can admit proudly to sexually assaulting women, spit on fallen war heroes and their families, evade his taxes, stiff small business owners that work for him, dismiss the contributions and value of the scientific community, insult everyone who doesn’t look like him, treat women like objects, and all the rest(and there is a lot more), was just elected with absolutely no experience or subject matter expertise to the highest office in the world is nearly incomprehensible. Our national dialogue has turned toxic and I can’t even begin to imagine what parents everywhere are telling their children (especially daughters).

Worse still is the fact that the GOP held on to the House and Senate. If any of the horrific legislation that Obama has vetoed over the past eight years (defunding Planned Parenthood, teaching creationism, slashing environmental protections etc), is close to what we can expect, this is going to be a huge step backwards for the US and the world.. The final nail in the coffin being the potential impact on the supreme court that will likely last decades.

For the first time, young people, the “optimistic idealist class”, genuinely feel like the world will not be a better place 30 years from now than it is today. Our vision of the future was ripped apart by a coalition of mostly rural, old, white men. To those who voted for Trump or a third party (same thing), either as a big FUCK YOU to the “political elites”, or as a rejection of Hillary, all I ask is that your try and understand the real life long term damage you have likely just caused for millions of Americans. Sadly, you will probably only show regret when this impacts you (it probably will) directly, but I would be wrong for not asking.

As a person who spends all day thinking about how technology can improve people’s lives, this election also serves as horrible wake up call that the dark side of the technology we create can dramatically outweigh the benefits of technological progress. Similar to Brexit here in the UK, misinformation and misleading propaganda were used to create hugely influential, and overtly political,online  echo-chambers that have no accountability or standard for accuracy. It is shocking how quickly these tools were used to disseminate what previously would have been considered extremist opinions and bring them into the mainstream. This could be a full post by itself, but the instability this creates should be terrifying to everyone.

The Hope:

I’ll admit that finding anything to be hopeful about this morning is tough. A long night of panic has left me feeling like throwing up, and at the risk of sounding dramatic, feeling somewhat hopeless. Still, there are some things worth acknowledging. First, as tough as this is, I do congratulate many folks who feel like Donald Trump was their only chance at having a voice in a world that had basically left them for dead. My whole personal political philosophy is built off the simple idea that a person has no control over the situation they were born into. While this is the foundation of the relatively liberal political views I have, it applies to all people, including those in America who globalization has not lifted up. While there is no question that much of this campaign has been the result of xenophobia and playing to people’s inner fears and prejudices (Note: Illegals are not stealing your jobs..), we can’t just sit back and assume that half of our country are racists/rednecks/etc. While open borders and free trade create substantial overall economic benefit, some areas will lose badly as a result, and the disenfranchisement that this brings can be absolutely devastating. This combined with the feeling that your voice is irrelevant in a system where one’s influence is directly correlated to one’s wealth is enough to make Trump’s angry populism appealing. So, I am hopeful that we can use this moment to bring opportunity to all those who feel forgotten.

Second, against my better judgement I am hopeful that Donald the President will be a better man than Donald the Candidate. His victory speech was uncharacteristically reasonable, and he genuinely appeared to want to work for all Americans.. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL_wh-d1pP4) This might be naive of me, given everything I laid out above, but I hope some part of this was an act and that Donald in the White House will be a different sort of man.

Third, I am lucky to know so many people on all sides of the political spectrum who will do everything in their power to create the right future. Despite the dark side I discussed, I believe technology will empower us with accurate information and enable us to demand accountability in the long run. If we play our cards right, this will enable permanent progress downstream. The passion that so many of my friends and acquaintances have shown this election is not going away because Donald Trump was elected president.

So maybe I am being an insensitive optimist, but I still have hope that things will be ok. In the words of our President, “Whether your chosen candidates win or lose tonight, let’s all agree, not only to stay engaged, but to push ourselves to do even better.. no matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.”

Keep fighting everyone. Love You.

All the best from London. Time to work.

Kyle

  • Feel free to reach out to me to discuss anything I said above.. I know I am barely scratching the surface of the feelings of many, but I had to get something down on paper. Happy to talk with anyone who needs it.. Close friends or not, let me know.
  • I wrote this quickly after a long night of stress, apologies if I worded anything wrong or missed key points 🙂
  • Comey  I hope you are happy
  • http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/its-going-to-be-okay.html   Read this post. Will make you feel better.
  • This is what the election would have looked like if only millenials had voted:

electoralcollegemap_index

 

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2 thoughts on “America: What on earth have we done?

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