This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.
Nearly everybody in America was pretending.
We pretended to be excited for Hillary. She was touted as the sure thing, one of the most experienced and qualified candidates ever to run for the presidency, which she was. Few of us actually bothered to sift through her experience — as a lawyer, the first lady of Arkansas and then the United States, her time in the Senate and heading the Obama State Department. We pretended not to know about her stint on the board of directors of the largest, most anti-union retail company in the world, Walmart, which was later sued by 1.6 million female employees for pay discrimination.
Her party’s platform was hyped as “the most progressive in history.” Never mind that it was only the most progressive in the Democratic Party’s history, and mere peanuts compared to what Bernie promised he’d do as he foolishly took on a polished politician who’d felt her time had come in 2007 (and believed it now more than ever). We pretended she didn’t have a history of vowing to do one thing while campaigning and doing the opposite once in office. We also pretended she wasn’t Queen of the D.C. Flip-Flop, changing her mind with the changing polls.
If you don’t know what I mean by now, you’ve done a good job not knowing.
With over 350 superdelegates in her pocket before the first primary vote was cast, a lot of us pretended as if she’d already won the nomination and, barring a freak of nature, was practically the president-elect. In the end even gullible ol’ Bernie was forced to pretend Hillary had beat him “fair and square,” that media support and an air of inevitably had no effect on primary voters. The Democratic Party bullied us into nominating Hillary, and then its supporters bullied as many jaded Bernie supporters as it could find into voting for her in the general election. We pretended none of this was true too.
We pretended this election was all about tolerance versus hatred, all about feminism versus sexism, Blue versus Red, good against evil. It was about those things, but not only. Many of us pretended not to hear the legitimate political and economic arguments being made by tens of millions of voters, many of whom voted for Trump. A lot of us pretended to not know that a surprising number of Trump supporters were Latino, and after his win, we quickly pretended they were self-hating traitors.
Many pretended that the American people could not allow a racist and a misogynist to occupy the Oval Office, as if we’ve never had one behind the president’s desk before (Jefferson? Kennedy?). As if we all don’t know the seedy goings-on in the halls of the West Wing. Hillary can pretend all she likes.
Almost all of us were shocked by the results on election night, pretending not to know how such a thing could’ve happened. But now that the election’s over, and the next president of the United States will be Donald John Trump, it’s time that we finally face facts.
Pretend time is over.
I’ve been using “us” and “we” up until now, but I shouldn’t pretend I pretended any of this. I never supported Hillary — not when she was running against Bernie, and not after she secured the Democratic nomination.
My opposition to her campaign was based on her personality and her politics. I couldn’t pretend that the sins of her husband’s presidency weren’t also on her, since it was she who insisted on being a new, forceful kind of first lady, one who would have more of a hand in shaping policy and carrying out the administration’s agenda. Nor could I pretend that the 1994 Crime Bill, the 1996 immigration and welfare reform bills, plus the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — all of which President Clinton signed into law, and Mrs. Clinton either supported or kept quiet on — didn’t do far more violence to communities of color and LGBTs than anything oozing from Trump’s orange lips.
I wasn’t pretending when I said I wanted to vote for Jill Stein, the only real progressive woman with a chance of winning the election. I wasn’t able to because she was kicked off the ballot in Nevada, my new adopted state. The official line was that Dr. Stein hadn’t secured enough valid signatures before the deadline, though I couldn’t pretend that the deciding judge having been nominated for the bench by Harry Reid had nothing to do with it.
What’s more, if you’re going to pretend none of what I’ve said thus far doesn’t bother you, then I’m not going to pretend I’m not… excited?… that Trump won. Had Hillary won, liberals would’ve wiped the sweat from their brows, patted themselves on the back for not electing a snarling know-nothing, and marched home. And they would’ve stayed home, while Clinton II quietly went on the warpath abroad and shortened the distance between Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. You can pretend I have no good reason to believe that, but I can’t.
Trump’s certainly not the president we wanted, but there’s no pretending he isn’t the president we need. His victory is a wake-up call, a splash of cold water, whichever idiom you prefer. Ultimately, Trump should serve as an orange flag for the Democratic Party, of which I cannot pretend to be a member. The Democrats are not the party they pretend to be. Progressive, pro-working class, anti-war, anti-Wall Street, pro-immigrant, pro-social justice — no serious person can pretend the Blue Team is any of these things.
And if you’re from Chicago, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
You can’t pretend you don’t already see progressives and liberals coming together, marching, protesting. Even as you’re reading this, they’re organizing events and meetings where plans are being made for life under President Trump. Electoral strategies are being tinkered with to ensure progressive victories at the local, state and federal levels in 2018 and 2020. Everyone is on guard against any abuse from the federal government. You can’t pretend these developments aren’t good, or that they would’ve occurred with equal urgency following a Hillary win, if at all.
So relax. The Trump presidency won’t mean the end of the world or even the end of America. We’ll survive. We might even learn a thing or two about our country and the way it’s governed.
And if at the very least President Trump gets us to stop pretending things aren’t exactly the way they are, then I won’t pretend I’m not glad he won.
Featured image: Georgia Democrats/Flickr