Finding the positive in a Trump presidency has proven an arduous task. Imagining anything less than the apocalypse seems woefully foolhardy when the Secretary of Defense commands the merciless slaughter of civilians, and the Secretary of State is CEO of ExxonMobil.
But beneath the despicable corruption, the disgusting collusion, the filthy vile, and the calls to outlaw abortion and erect walls both figurative and literal, there is some positive. It’s a sickening kind of positive, but positive nonetheless.
Of all the truths that have been exposed in this election, the degree to which our world views have been skewered and narrowed by personalized media has been perhaps the most alarming. My carefully curated newsfeed showing Hillary and Bernie supporters blinded me from the reality that we were all living in a Trump world. Social media has duped us into believing that a surface image is an accurate portrait of reality, and many of us hold that same belief when it comes to our politicians.
When I see Obama’s face, I want to kiss it. I want to cuddle into him. He makes me feel proud, and powerful. I identify with Obama. I share in many of the values he promotes, as I do Hillary. Both champion causes with which I identify, and I believe theirs are the faces of future America. Many of us would feel infinitely safer in a world run by Obama or Hillary than by Trump.
Obama reformed healthcare. He championed equal rights. He liberated Cuba, blocked Keystone and pushed climate change legislation. He condemned terrorist attacks and school shootings and took a stand against the NRA. He sang Al Green. He sang Aretha. Obama was a dream.
But, unbecoming though it is for a man with such an admirable image, it cannot be ignored that US military presence worldwide has actually increased since Obama took office, despite his vowing the opposite when campaigning. It’s also no secret that Obama fueled the carnage in Syria by supplying arms to rebel groups, and that many of these weapons armed an emerging extremist group now commonly known as ISIS.
Obama’s pro-equality and anti-violence rhetoric brought the nation to tears. He set a world precedent when he voiced support for gay marriage. But mass shootings, mass incarceration, police killings of innocent citizens and environmental degradation of the environment all flourished on his watch. And as much as none of us wants to admit it, Obama, like Hillary, vehemently opposed gay marriage, at least until his administration clinched a second term.
As for Hillary, she has done incredible work as a disability lawyer, women’s rights advocate, and equal rights supporter. She fought for the environment and supported the Paris agreement. In the first debate, she called for better training to remove “implicit bias” among police officers that was causing so many innocent deaths. Her steadfast determination and drive are a source of inspiration for many.
Like Obama, Hillary’s polished image makes it difficult to reconcile some of her dirtier deeds, like lying under oath at the Benghazi hearing. In the early 90s, she warned the public of the superpredator — a stereotype depicting black males as blood-hungry monsters — helping to instil in police officers the very “implicit bias” she’d caution against in her debates with Trump.
As much as it pained me to watch her concession speech, Hillary Clinton is a woman who ordered civilians in Iraq and Syria killed. She called for a Palestinian election to be rigged to ensure a pro-US leader. And it cannot be overlooked that she won the democratic nomination largely because of illegal collusion, and downright lies — the very lies that many believe cost her the election.
I’m scared of Trump. I’m scared of what his world will look like. In Trump’s world, I see bombs. I hear machine guns. I see protests and vicious backlashes. I see judges in bulletproof benches pounding gavels to the shrieks of immigrants and minority groups. I see disgusting brutality at the hands of police. I see entire segments of the population unfairly targeted based on race or religion. I see mass upheaval and mass incarceration and starvation and struggle and oppression and a lot of yelling. But the more I contemplate it, the more I realize that Trump’s world isn’t so much unlike Obama’s or Hillary’s. They differ only in the image that represents them.
And so, if anything positive can be taken away from this hell-ection, it is the sobering reality that the greed, lies, and pure evil we fear will dictate American domestic and international policy over the next four years, already do, and always have.
And this is where I find the positive. It’s a sick kind of positive, but positive nonetheless. A kind of positive that is tinged with terror. A terrifying kind of positive. That’s what I feel.