These are the times that try men’s souls—and women’s, too.
Last night America experienced a political earthquake. Though the full extent of the damage is still unclear, there is no denying the magnitude of the upheaval: a man who campaigned on a platform of hostility to immigrants, contempt for women, and disregard for civil and religious liberty has now been elected president of the United States. The same Republican Party that successfully stymied progressive legislation for the last eight years, and obstructed President Obama at every turn, now controls both the Senate and the House of Representatives. And the Supreme Court, for so long the bulwark of our liberties, is likely to become a rubber stamp for economic privilege and social reaction—possibly for a generation.
Citizens United, it seems, may just have been the beginning, unleashing a torrent of corporate money that buried Russ Feingold, Zephyr Teachout, Ted Strickland, and the California ballot initiative to control rising drug prices. With Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the White House, and a conservative majority again on the Court, decisions that seemed like settled law only a few days ago—gay marriage, legal abortion, the right to join a union, indeed, the very right to citizenship itself for all born inside this country—may now well come under attack. These are all fights we cannot afford to lose.
And so, despite the temptation to mourn, we have to organize. Because if we can’t rely on the president, or the Congress, or the courts, we have no choice but to rely on one another. Not just for comfort but for strength—and survival.
There will be a time for recriminations. A time to determine just what portion of the disaster we now face is due to white backlash, what to misogyny, and what to a revolt against the elites in Washington, Hollywood, and Manhattan. A time—and a necessity—to debate how much to blame the Democratic Party for choosing a candidate so loathed by so many men and women that they preferred to trust their futures to Donald Trump. A time to try to gauge the effect of FBI Director James Comey’s unprecedented late intervention into the election—and of the cynicism fostered by the way Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic National Committee skewed the nominating process. There will even be time to argue about whether Bernie Sanders might not have been the more electable Democrat after all.
Today is not that time. Hillary Clinton has been defeated. The Democratic Party is in deep disarray. American women have learned that even a buffoon with no experience in government or history of public service is more likely to be elected president—so long as he has a penis, a television program, and a billion dollars (more or less). And so many of our hopes—for free public college, a livable minimum wage, expanded Social Security, a path to universal health care, paid family leave, an end to private prisons, the abolition of the death penalty—now lie shattered, along with the prospect of an administration that, whatever its limitations, had been shown to be open to pressure from the left.