I am disappointed and I am sad and not because a candidate whose political views opposed my own is now our president elect. I can handle opposing political views. But, I am disappointed, sad, angry and afraid that a Donald Trump presidency threatens to jeopardize core tenets that I have that value humans as individuals with rights to their own bodies, minds, emotions and beliefs.
In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton said that our country has always cherished the peaceful transfer of power and that, in regard to Trump, “we owe him an open mind” during this transfer. I can get behind having an open mind to the slight possibility that he could surprise us. But, we don’t owe him any more than that. Not when he based his campaign on divisive language and threats laced with racist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-semitic and xenophobic remarks. It’s now up to Donald J Trump to prove to us that he is not a bigoted egomaniacal authoritarian demagogue. That’s on him and him alone.
I was raised to understand that your words matter. So, the idea that all the nasty and inexcusable remarks he’s said along the way are just part of his show to get elected, that it’s his braggadocio, that it’s just “locker room talk,” that he’s just “being Donald” and he didn’t mean anything by what he said are not justifiable reasons to forgive his words (especially when he’s yet to apologize for some of his nastier comments) and certainly not enough for me to put trust in this man.
Here’s a little true-life parable about deserving trust. Let’s name the main characters Donald Trump, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray and Korey Wise (because those are their actual names). In 1989, Santana, Richardson, Salaam, McCray and Wise were accused of brutally raping and beating a young woman in Central Park. They ranged in ages from 14-16 and would come to be known as the Central Park Five. But, they were all innocent and their confessions were illegally coerced and forced out of them by police officers.
Just two weeks after the attack, Donald Trump helped stoked the racial fires that led to their guilty sentences (ranging from 5-10 years to 5-15 years) by paying a reported $85,000 in advertising space to place full page ads in four of New York’s biggest newspapers, including the New York Times. The headline of the ad started by saying “Bring Back The Death Penalty.” And so these five teenagers lost between 7 and 13 pivotal years of their young lives behind bars until the actual rapist came forward and confessed and his DNA proved their innocence.
And how did Donald Trump respond? With silence. Absolutely nothing…at first. Then, in 2014, when a settlement was reached with the Central Park Five, Trump said in a New York Daily News opinion piece, “Settling doesn’t mean innocence, but it indicates incompetence on several levels.” Then, this year when interviewed on CNN, he gave this comment about the Central Park Five, “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.” TO THIS DAY, he still won’t admit that he was a part of the machine that wrongfully sent five innocent adolescents to jail! He believes what he did was appropriate. He did nothing wrong. Those teenagers lost years of their lives for a crime they didn’t commit and they deserved it in his eyes.
That speaks a lot about someone’s integrity or lack thereof and I am afraid this is the kind of leader he will be. Someone who stokes fires, causes dissent, takes credit for it when it helps his image and, when it doesn’t help, he spins the story in some bullshit way to satisfy his ego. Here’s Korey Wise’s thoughts (who, as the oldest member of the Central Park Five, was sentenced as an adult to Rikers Island):
“Donald Trump told the world that my life had no value, no quality. And he's still saying pretty much the same thing today (in regard to Trump’s claim that Mexican immigrants are rapists)…What kind of a leader, really, could that kind of person be? Really. That ought to give everybody in America something to think about.”
The above story is not Trump putting on a show or playing a game. It is a crystal clear example of how, when raised in a society that values wealth and power over everything else, someone like him feels immune to accountability.
So, couple all that with Trump’s lack of governmental experience, his dubious (to say the least) and outright corrupt (to say the most) business practices, his denial of climate change (when 70% of Americans feel otherwise) and his desire to lift regulation from Wall Street (which led to our most recent recession) and we have every right to question his merits to be the leader of a free country.
The one thing that makes me feel some sort of encouragement is that most of America did not vote for Trump. We are a majority and that includes those who voted for 3rd party candidates. And I would love to be proven wrong and see that somehow Trump moves us forward instead of backwards. I will certainly keep an open mind to that possibility. But, I find it really hard to believe. In fact, the day after the election, his win and rhetoric have already whetted the racist appetites of the people below.
So, in closing, Trump is a force not to be trusted until he proves otherwise. Until then, we the people must be ready to hold him accountable for his actions.