A few days after Barack Obama won the presidential election in 2008, I spotted an SUV in my hometown's traffic with this enigmatic warning scrawled on its smoked back window: "America: Don't be led like lambs to the slaughter." A few weeks later I overheard the owner of a local store loudly telling an Obama joke to a customer. Before the end of Obama's first term I spotted an anti-Obama protest on one of the thoroughfares entering the town. Sometime in his second term a coworker sent me an email featuring Obama with a face morphed to look like a chimpanzee. Later yet the same coworker said to me, "You voted for Obama? That's good to know. I've never met anyone who had the guts to admit he voted for Obama. I hate the fucker. Thanks for telling me."
I no longer live in that town or have that job, but it must be because of my years of conditioning there that I'm possessed of an inner Trump voter. When Donald Trump infamously quipped that he could shoot someone in Times Square and not lose votes, I immediately understood what he said. Through his words he flaunted a license given to him by a living public rage underwritten by racism, nationalism and a conservatism American politics had jilted as it had been once silently appeased through dog whistle signaling. Trump threw out the dog whistle. My inner Trump voter smiled at being directly and openly addressed by his campaign.
Needless to say, it was not the inner Trump voter who cast the vote for Hillary Clinton this week but what I'd like to think is the better angel of my nature. Yet I find myself in a dark place, not unlike the driver of that SUV in 2008, hardly able to accept the reality of the president-elect. I've long understood Trump's popularity. Now some knowledge of the opposition to Obama comes, though I hope it does not come with the same level of hate.
The question is how to oppose the regime that this week swept into power without resorting to unpatriotic acts such as congressional Republican obstructionism or high school hooliganism, though it's an open question at the time of this post which option does more damage. The day calls for civic order, but its a day of factions who view one another across an abyss. Yesterday Obama gracefully met with Trump in the White House to begin the orderly transfer of power and to provide an example of the civility of a functioning nation. That civility and that nation and its functionality happen ephemerally through countless small efforts to bridge the differences between people every day, and the efforts work more or less or fail. The question at hand is how to oppose without dissolving the bonds of a nation. Film maker Michael Moore has said we've elected the last American president.
All I know to do right now is hope he is wrong.