Around the world, people are waking up to an electoral reality that for many was previously unimaginable. I can normally deal with being on the losing end of any election — it has happened, a lot — but the behaviors and qualities of the man we have just elected President fill me with despair and alarm.
On social media, I have read a number of posts and memes asking, in effect, how will we explain this to the children? In terms of long-term damage, it sends horrible messages to the children of this nation and elsewhere. In effect, we adults have proclaimed:
- It’s okay to regularly engage in bullying, bigoted, and misogynistic behaviors;
- It’s okay to openly brag about and encourage conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and assault;
- It’s okay to continually issue threats of retaliation and retribution toward those who oppose or criticize you;
- It’s okay to lie, get caught, and deny…over and over again;
- It’s okay to hire people to work for you and repeatedly stiff them;
- It’s okay to mimic and make fun of people with disabilities;
- It’s okay to act perpetually aggrieved even when life has handed you every advantage.
Politics is a bloodsport, I get that. But what happened here was nothing within the realm of normal. In terms of the state of our civic life and any value we place on kindness and human dignity, America just lost a huge piece of its soul. Whether we can ever recover that piece is an open question. As we stare into the abyss that was the 2016 presidential election, we have no choice but to try, as if our lives depended on it.
Note: I know that I will lose some readers over this post. For those who wish to praise or defend the virtues of the President-elect, there are plenty of venues with much larger readerships that will happily take your comments. I will be back to “regularly scheduled programming” promptly, but because the results of America’s presidential vote have violated so many of the values that inform my writing here, I have exercised my prerogative to make this statement.