Post-Election Confession: I’m Struggling to Feel Sympathy, and I’m Not Sorry

After four long years of constant anxiety, pain, and chaos in America, Donald Trump has been defeated.

As of Saturday, November 7, 2020, Joseph R. Biden is America’s new President-Elect.

When the news of Biden’s win started sweeping across the country, thousands of people flooded American streets to celebrate. It was an amazing spectacle to witness.

For years, since the day of Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, Americans have taken to the streets out of anger and distress, carrying protest signs and chanting in unison against both the president and his harmful policies. Protesting has become the norm across America in Donald Trump’s America.

However, on November 7, 2020, for the first time in a long time, the people out in the streets weren’t there to protest — instead, they danced and cried, their tears representing both joy and relief. Watching them on television in my little apartment, I cried right along with them. It was hard not to.

Some people compared the celebrations in the streets to the nationwide celebrations we saw at the end of wars, harkening back to the photos we’ve all seen of V.E. (Victory in Europe) and V.J. (Victory Over Japan) Days at the end of World War II in 1945.

VJ DAY – NEW YORK 1945 — British Movietone on YouTube
Celebrations in the US as Joe Biden wins Presidential Election — The Telegraph on YouTube

Other people have said the crowds celebrating in the streets are reminiscent of the celebrations we’ve seen in countries that manage to oust an authoritarian leader or dictator and reclaim democracy and freedom for their people.

To be completely honest, both of these descriptions are fairly accurate.

In some respects, we did just win a war, because Trump has threatened the very existence of our democracy and our freedoms since the day he stepped foot in the White House. Even now, with the election over and having been called for Joe Biden, Trump refuses to accept the wishes of the American people (he’s still claiming on Twitter that he won the election, apparently by a landslide), and for months, he’s refused to assure the public that he will participate in a peaceful transfer of power.

Four years in, I don’t even know what number “constitutional crisis” we’re on now. But it’s definitely up there.

It has been nonstop for four years.

This list could go on and on, but I have neither the time nor the energy to recount all of the times and ways in which Trump has spoken and acted in clear violation of the United States Constitution, despite claiming to be a red-blooded, Constitution-loving, flag-hugging, proud American.

(Trump, Republicans, and supporters continue lying about election results, 11/10/20)
‘Chilling to hear’: Tapper reacts to Pompeo’s refusal to acknowledge Biden win — CNN on YouTube

It’s not just his affronts to the Constitution and rule of law that have made him such a terrifying president, though.

Donald Trump is a person full of hatred and rage, and he has used his position as the most powerful person in America to stoke division, as well as create policy that actively harms the very Americans he was elected to protect and serve.

In 2016, Trump began the first political campaign of his life by vilifying Mexicans as “drug dealers” and “rapists.” Four years later, as he was facing re-election, he promoted the conspiracy theory group called QAnon repeatedly on his Twitter feed and called them “patriots,” despite the fact that this group’s core belief is that “elites” and Democrats traffic children and even EAT children. (I plan to eventually write an in-depth look at the QAnon conspiracy and group, but for now, you can learn about it here: https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-qanon.html.)

He started his political career harming other human beings, so, apparently, it’s only fitting that he wishes to end his political career by harming other human beings.

To say Trump, his words, his behaviors, and his policies have harmed a good portion of Americans, in at least one way or another, is an understatement. Here are just a few examples (though the list could easily be twice as long).

And on, and on, and on…

If one would want to see examples of his nonstop lying and egregious behavior, they would only have to visit Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, where he often posts his blatant lies and continues to share debunked conspiracy theories nearly every day. It is truly a treasure trove of Trump’s biggest lies.

Perhaps even worse, his supporters and his diehard base, the very people who used to proudly call themselves patriots and claim to love the Constitution, as well as the very people who have attended church every Sunday their entire lives and swear they love and follow the Gospel and Jesus Christ, have fallen in lockstep behind him, no matter how egregious his actions or how terrible his lies.

His supporters have cheered him on every single time he has torn to shreds not only the Constitution, but also our American values and traditions, as well as the rule of law. They have repeated his lies, which they believe to be true, both online and in person. And it seems that his most hateful, disgusting lines does nothing but incite his followers even more.

Worst of all, a good number of these supporters have not only taken Trump’s words to heart, but they have interpreted them to be a kind of “permission,” allowing them to openly display their hatred towards certain groups, whether through their words or through their own actions (sometimes violent).

When Trump was elected in 2016, I spent days just sobbing and bawling out of fear. I know I’m not the only one, either. As it turned out, we all had reason to worry.

Yet, despite that fear and pain, Trump supporters got in the faces of those on the left and started screaming “FUCK YOUR FEELINGS,” and “HE’S YOUR PRESIDENT GET OVER IT,” and they repeatedly called us “snowflakes” for having and/or showing any emotion. They spent four whole years spitting in our faces, threatening us, sending us death threats

Following Trump’s election, the FBI documented a large surge in the number of hate crimes committed in the United States, and by 2019, the number of U.S. hate crimes increased to its highest point in 16 years.

In 2019, a mass shooting suspect echoed Trump’s hateful rhetoric about Mexicans and immigrants overall to explain why he drove eleven hours to a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and opened fire with an AK-47 style rifle. A manifesto, posted by the shooter online just nineteen minutes before the shooting, explained that, “[t]his attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” and “if we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can be more sustainable.” The manifesto also echoed a sentiment often spewed by those on the right, which is that Hispanics are coming to America to “take our jobs.”

The shooter made it clear that his target was Mexicans. El Paso is approximately 83% Latino.

In the end, the shooter managed to injure 24 people and kill 22.

In 2018, diehard Trump supporter named Cesar Sayoc mailed homemade explosives to multiple different targets all with one thing in common: they had been labeled as “enemies” of Donald Trump. They included:

  • Hillary and Bill Clinton
  • Barack and Michelle Obama
  • George Soros, Democratic Donor
  • The CNN Newsroom in New York City
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan
  • U.S. Representative Maxine Waters
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Former DNC Chair and U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz
  • Actor Robert De Niro
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper
  • U.S. Senator Cory Booker
  • U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
  • Tom Steyer, Democratic Donor

Following his arrest, his lawyers have since argued that Sayoc found “light” in Donald Trump after having lived such a “dark” and “painful” life. Because of his devotion to Trump, his lawyers say, “Mr. Sayoc came to believe that prominent Democrats were actively working to hurt him, other Trump supporters, and the country as a whole.” They also included facts in their court filings about Sayoc’s obsession with Fox News and right-wing groups on Facebook, where he saw content that “promoted various conspiracy theories, and more generally, the idea that Trump’s critics were dangerous, unpatriotic, and evil.”

The targets have one thing in common: Trump has publicly railed against and ridiculed all of them since the beginning of his presidency. Thankfully, none of Sayoc’s targets were harmed in this plot, but, if Sayoc had had his way, it could have ended catastrophically.

Just a few months ago, we saw protesters taking to the street night after night to protest the police killings of black Americans. A black man named Jacob Blake was shot seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, despite posing no threat to the officer, leaving him paralyzed and fighting for his life. As had been happening all summer, protests erupted in Kenosha, some of them, unfortunately, ending in violence and looting.

A 17-year-old kid in Illinois decided to make the trip, with his mother, to Kenosha, bringing an AR-15 with him. Earlier in the evening, Rittenhouse had told reporters (while holding his rifle) that he was there to protect businesses from the threat he believed protesters posed, but he failed to mention that he wasn’t even from Kenosha.

One protester tried to take Rittenhouse’s gun away after following him into a used car lot. Rittenhouse shot that man, killing him, and then took off running. A group of protesters ran after him, screaming that he had just shot someone, and that chase ended with two more people being shot.

In the end, three were wounded, two of which died.

Social media videos emerged, and cops can be seen standing by but not responding to the protesters’ shouting about Rittenhouse having shot someone, nor did they take action in response to seeing the kid carrying such a rifle. That, in itself, sparked additional outrage, especially since Rittenhouse was free to return back to his home in Illinois and was not arrested until the following day.

Almost immediately, Trump and his supporters, who had spent the entire summer attacking Black Lives Matter protesters and those they have labeled as “antifa,” rallied around Rittenhouse, some even hailing him as a hero.

This kid went out of his way, drove into another state entirely, with a weapon meant for war, and shot three people at point-blank range. All because… what, exactly? Because he believed the protesters needed to be contained by assault-rifle-toting wannabe militia members? Because he believed the president when he called these people “dangerous” and “thugs”?

This kid shot and killed two people who did not need to die that night, who otherwise wouldn’t have died that night, had Rittenhouse not heard the call to “defend” Trump’s America, in which protesters, especially those supporting civil and human rights, especially black protesters, are seen as a threat that must be dealt with, no matter the cost.

During his campaign in 2016, Donald Trump said that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and he wouldn’t lose any supporters.

As it turns out, those supporters can stand in the middle of any street in America, shoot someone from “the other side,” and they’ll receive the President’s full-throated support.

We are all so, so tired.

Tired of the violence.

Tired of the racism.

Tired of the rhetoric.

Tired of the “us vs. them” sentiment.

Tired of the hatred.

Tired of the division.

Tired of the bigotry.

Tired of the death threats.

Tired of the name-calling.

Tired of the chaos.

Tired of the lies.

Tired of Trump’s bullshit.

Tired of his supporters’ bullshit.

Donald Trump has spent the last four years bloviating a steady stream of hatred and inciting violence, whether physical or rhetorical, either explicitly directed or implied.

He has told his supporters that his grievances are their grievances, and he gives them the permission they need to carry on a victim mentality, for which someone must be responsible and needs to pay. Trump gladly hands them scapegoats on a silver platter, then turns his head. Like he infamously said during one of his rallies, he’ll cover the legal bills.

As someone who worked briefly in local news this past year, I saw the victim mentality, the scapegoating, the violent rhetoric, the threats, and the hatred even clearer than I had over the previous three years. My boss at the time, a black man, had the audacity to publicly support Black Lives Matter, and he received nonstop death threats for months on end, sometimes not even sleeping at night, because he believed the threats were that real.

We ultimately chose to not report it in too much detail, but we received detailed accounts and audio recordings from a Klan rally that took place in the middle of the night right here in our back yard. Given the history of where we live, that’s not necessarily a huge surprise (we’re right near the previous headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan), plus, we had been seeing recruitment flyers for the KKK distributed in the area on a somewhat regular basis, but it’s still shocking to know that these people are slowly growing more and more courageous — they no longer have to completely hide their true beliefs.

And why should they? There are unapologetic white supremacists in the White House (look at Stephen Miller), and Trump has repeatedly made his support for such groups known to the American public, even if it’s through a wink and a nod. The message hasn’t been lost on any of us.

I was also subjected to almost daily name-calling and rhetorical attacks by the people who followed our news organization, sometimes for things as simple as using NBC or CNN as a source for a story. Every day, I read some of the nastiest things I have ever witnessed online, and that’s saying a lot.

The worst was probably the couple of days we saw dozens of local residents defending white supremacists overall after we ran a story that (rightly so) depicted white supremacy in a negative light. However, we also dealt with people defending Kyle Rittenhouse; people saying nasty things about Black Lives Matter and protesters; people defending the police killings of black Americans; people spreading conspiracy theories, including those theories at the heart of the QAnon movement…

I loved the actual work I did with that news organization, but the stress caused every day by the people attacking me personally, the people attacking my boss, and the people arguing in favor of the most disgusting ideologies in America wore me down and, in some respects, destroyed any faith I had left in Americans and humanity overall.

Because I happen to be a white person, the harassment I endured wasn’t quite on the same level as what my black boss faced, but it was still bad enough that I felt the need to purchase a handgun to protect myself.

While I haven’t had to endure the racism displayed by Trump and his supporters, I am both queer and disabled, so I had a lot at stake in this year’s election — much more than just my sanity.

When the winner of the presidential race was announced on Saturday, I was at home, watching tv. When they announced Donald Trump had been beaten, I immediately burst into heavy, ugly sobs, and I kept repeating the phrase, “we did it.” In that moment, I was overwhelmed with relief.

It wasn’t until later, after my brother pointed it out in a text message, that I realized: yeah, we ultimately won, but there were still SEVENTY MILLION people who voted for four more years of Trump.

Election day had been on Tuesday (as always), but the race was close enough that it wasn’t called until mid-day on Saturday.

Despite everything we have witnessed over the last four years, Trump supporters voted for more. That vote will forever tell me that those people were okay with more violence, more racism, more overall bigotry, more children thrown into cages at the border, more anger and rage, more grievances, more division, more death threats, more hatred… Those 70 million people voted for all of those things.

Three days later, I have yet to wrap my brain around it all. I can’t understand how someone who claims to love this country would want to see the chaos and the pain and the fear continue for another four years.

Then again, those who voted for Trump probably aren’t the ones who’ve been forced to feel that chaos and pain and fear.

And then, something truly bizarre happened: soon after the race had been called for Joe Biden, I started seeing all kinds of things all across the internet, pleading for those of us who voted against Donald Trump and his disgusting ideology to remember how we felt when we lost the 2016 election and to extend some kindness to Trump voters in their sadness.

I’m sorry.

What??

The very people who spent years calling those of us on the left “snowflakes” for showing any emotion whatsoever now want sympathy and everyone to be nice to them because their bully-in-chief lost his bid for reelection? Are you serious?

Trump and these supporters are the ones who put us threw hell for the last four years, but I should feel sorry for them, because they were not given another four years to inflict fear and violence on us?

Some people even had the audacity to shame us for our celebrations, as if they were completely oblivious to the fact that we narrowly escaped Trump naming himself president for life (he talked about it — really) and just barely prevented our democracy from turning into a dictatorship, like Russia or North Korea, whose leaders Trump publicly envies.

They shamed us as if we didn’t just endure four years of wondering whether or not we’d lose our healthcare, our right to marry, our right to assemble, our right to free speech, our ability to make our own reproductive decisions.

They shamed us as if we didn’t just spend four years watching Trump and his supporters praise white supremacists, defend the killing of black people at the hands of cops, rip breastfeeding babies from their mothers and throw them into cages, make up complete and total bat-shit crazy lies, threaten to arrest and jail political opponents, and dismiss a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of 240,000 Americans.

I’m not going to be shamed for feeling unbelievable relief and happiness over Donald Trump’s defeat, and I don’t care whose feelings that hurts.

Because of my personal faith and beliefs, no, I will not treat Trump supporters the way they’ve treated me and others opposed to his presidency for the last four years.

But I’ll be damned if I’m going to feel sorry for the very people who supported and voted for the man who has caused damage, some possibly irreparable, to our government, our country, and its people, all because their chances of inflicting even more damage was squandered.

I don’t feel sympathy for them, I will never feel sympathy for them, and I won’t apologize for it.

In two months, Donald Trump will be gone, and then we, Democrats, will face the daunting challenge of working to repair whatever’s left of this country. Joe Biden has made reuniting the country one of the major goals, starting on January 20, 2021, and I’m on bored with that. I would love nothing more than to see us reunite and become one country again.

However, as I’ve already said: do not ask me to feel sympathy for Trump supporters because their candidate lost the election. I can care about them as fellow people, but I cannot and will not feel sad for them over Trump’s loss.

I will celebrate the election of 2020 as the time we put a stop to Trump’s reign of terror until the day I die.


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