thoughts after the 2016 US presidential election

[This text was written on November 11th, 2016. I wanted to flesh out that last point before posting, but nine months later, it’s become clear that I don’t know how to. But the rest is still relevant, I think.]

Although I’m a woman and a person of colour, I have the luxury of not having to fear more than before for my personal safety due to the outcome of the US presidential election since I don’t live in the US. Those who are worried about their safety have every right to be so; their fear has unfortunately been validated by now countless reports of verbal and physical assault by white males who align their attacks with the new US president-elect. But since I don’t have to worry about getting deported, incarcerated, tortured, raped, or being attacked in countless other ways any more than I usually do, my reaction to the election can be cerebral and detached rather than instinctive, emotional or based on survival. For that I am grateful and I acknowledge that others in the US may not have this luxury.

This election and election campaign is far too multi-faceted for any unifying explanatory theory. All the analyses and opinion pieces penned and published since Wednesday that claim to explain WHY and WHO IS TO BLAME and WHAT NOW feel lacking. Anything I write is, of course, no exception; hence I won’t call the following strands of thought anything other than, well, my strands of thought. Please feel free to engage with any of the points or to send related material my way.

Dissent is healthy.
The current state of being – aka status quo, business-as-usual, the establishment, the norm – is sick. We need to acknowledge the problem before we can fix it.

Ignorance (wilful or otherwise) is not exclusive to the right.
The lofty left ignore the cries of those suffering from neoliberalism and then wonder why the masses end up supporting right populists.

Misogyny and racism are intertwined.
Stop discussing whether Trump and his supporters are more misogynistic than racist. Oppression on different planes work together to create an unjust society. We don’t have to choose one or the other to feel outraged about; we should be fighting both and all forms of oppression.

Progressives need to organise.
I and so many others are nothing more than well-intentioned armchair slacktivists. My social media posts (including this text) don’t make one lick of a difference beyond making me feel good for typing something. Less talking, more action.

Moderates need to stop vilifying progressives for troubling the norm.
In the meantime, moderates and centrists – self-proclaimed ‘sensible’ people – need to stop complaining that grassroots movements are inconveniencing their daily commute and then in the same breath lament big money in politics or mourn the death of reason and democracy after an election like this one. People are trying to do something about it. If you can’t actively support them, at least stop whining and get out of the way.

Electoral reform is not a panacea but without it the choices will continue to be limited, unrepresentative and unsavoury.
Eliminating the electoral college will have three significant effects: first, the mechanical effect that will remove the concept of swing states and the winner-take-all method of tallying votes, thus aligning election results with the popular vote; second, the psychological effect that will free voters, especially in former swing states, from biting their tongue and voting for the lesser of the two evils that are the Republican and Democratic parties; and third, the knock-on effect that a greater number of viable candidates/parties will keep the two big parties on their toes, pressuring them to consider other policy positions.

Violence already exists. It’s enshrined in legislation. I don’t mean like a parking lot brawl. Violence is a pervasive attack on civil rights. It’s called oppression.
Trump didn’t bring about oppression, though he no doubt will make it worse.

Stupidity is irrelevant. Disenfranchisement is relevant. Fear, lack of agency and lack of representation are relevant. Injustice, above all, is relevant.

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