Tuesday night’s election results threaten the extraordinary progress we’ve seen toward LGBTQ equality in recent years. We don’t have answers today about what comes next. This much is clear – we are going to need new strategies, new approaches in the push for full equality.
I know that people are feeling so many different things – from anger, to despair, to resolve, to finding some solace in a long-view perspective. I’m also hearing a lot of people express fear, especially those in our country who have long been under attack – communities of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women, and survivors of rape and sexual assault.
For 240 years the republic has survived and it will survive this tragedy. In the last two Democratic presidents, we had HOPE and CHANGE. Now we have to hope for change in 2018 when we can take back Congress and 2020 when we can take back the White House.
We also have to fight and resist the change that Trump has in store for us. Already the KKK are dropping fliers in Alabama that say “Sleep well tonight knowing that the Klan is alert and awake.” And that they will “hold Trump’s promises close.” If that isn’t sickening enough, patrons of the Bourbon Pub, a gay bar in New Orleans, were greeted with shouts of, “Get ready, fags,” by hecklers after the election.
If nothing else we must stand up to the bigotry, misogyny, and hypocrisy that is Donald Trump. He says he will act differently as president than he did as a candidate, but it was the way he acted that got him elected. He will still clamor for the spotlight as president and get wilder and wilder in what he does and says. I am truly afraid of what’s in store for us.
The pundits will spend countless hours trying to figure out just what combination of events led Trump to pull the most stunning political upset since Truman’s defeat of Dewey in 1948. Was it that Clinton was too damaged and establishment of a candidate? Was it that the polls seriously underestimated Trump’s appeal? Was it that white working class voters were making one last stand for dominance, motivated by hate? Was it the economy, improving but slowly?
What does it all mean for us? As with so much else in Trumpland, it’s almost impossible to tell. Trump has sent so many mixed signals in a campaign characterized by chaos that what actually happens when he takes over the reins of government simply can’t be predicted.
On the one hand, Trump doesn’t really seem to hate us the way he genuinely hates many other groups, like immigrants, Muslims, and Latinos. In fact, Trump made a favorable remark about us at the Republican convention. At his rallies, his campaign distributed LGBTQs for Trump signs, an unimaginable turn of events from previous GOP presidential campaigns. These aren’t the marks of a man who bears us the deep-seated ill will of a hard-core homophobe.
On the other hand, he’s surrounded himself with a nasty cast of characters who have no such qualms. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was a pollster for the National Organization for Marriage. His political adviser, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, can always be counted on to spout some homophobic nonsense. And then there’s Mike Pence, in a category by himself.
Moreover, none of the potentially moderating forces in the GOP ever fully backed Trump. That role fell to some of the worst figures in the religious right, who gladly stepped up to support Trump even after he was caught on tape admitting to sexual assault and accused of the same by more than a dozen credible women. They will be lining up at the Oval Office door on January 20, with the full expectation that their support will be repaid, and not just with a Supreme Court appointment.
So what happens? Probably a genuinely weird mixture of both nice words from Trump and vicious policies from his backers. Of course, that will pale in comparison to the sufferings of a lot of other people (and the economy). It’s going to be a really rough ride for the next four years.
Let’s just hope it’s not as rough as as a lot of us think it will be now.