No, Let’s Not Congratulate Him
Don’t ask us to congratulate him.
Not today. Not this week. Not ever, probably.
He stands for so much of what we’d dared to hope was behind us as a country. Bigotry, misogyny, xenophobia. He spewed it with reckless abandon, and now he is going to be our next president.
Of course we are distancing ourselves. We love our families, our communities and our country. Our commitment is not a charade. And we want to live with ourselves.
This is not a sporting event. This is not about good manners. Sometimes there is no deliverance in the fake smile, the phony congratulations.
This would be one of those times.
We are exhausted but wide-awake aware. We have no choice, because we are his targets — a diverse group, which, in his view, qualifies us as the collective enemy. We are women. We are immigrants. We are black and Latino. We are Muslims and Jews. We are gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender. We are the people on the margins, the ones invisible in plain sight.
We have listened to him talk about us for months. We know him.
We know whom he threatened and whom he bullied. We know whom he hates. (Let us raise our hands.) We know that he bragged about grabbing women by the genitals and that he mocked a gold star family and a man with disabilities. We know he lied. Over and over, he lied. And he got away with it.
This new job title will not change who he is.
So we are hyper-vigilant. We know the list of what he promised to do and whom he promised to harm if he became our next president. We are watching and waiting. We cannot yearn for unity with such a man.
We are not sore losers. We just don’t have the luxury of indifference. We don’t benefit from pretending that all will be fine.
As it was for millions of other Americans — the plurality of voters, it appears — this election was personal for me. In the wee hours of the morning when election results were still coming in, I kept thinking about my two Latino grandsons. These sweet boys I love — our “bad hombres,” our family tried to joke. I look into their bright eyes and see the reflection of my growing fear, one that I can no longer rationalize away. In rhetoric and deed, our next president has made clear that they and millions like them are “the other.”
How could so many Americans vote for this man?
That is the question on so many minds, including those of the many millennials who reached out to me Wednesday — through email and Facebook and taps on my office door at Kent State.
Where’s the hope now? they asked. What’s the point?
We must not give up, I tell them. We must not surrender to this despair threatening to claw our hearts into pieces.
Had my generation given up, we would never have seen the passage of civil rights, marriage equality or President Barack Obama. For starters. Had the women generations before me given up, I would not have the right to vote.
Every morning, we are faced with a decision before our feet hit the floor. Will we join the defeated, the ones who finally caved? Or will we continue to fight? I know from long experience which answer will rouse us from our beds with our character intact.
First, though, we acknowledge our sadness and disbelief, lest that darkness feast on us. As for grief, well, there’s a stubborn monster. The longer we ignore it the harder it pounds on the door. Only after we let it in do we discover its temporary hold.
So, let’s get on with it. Let’s invite our grief to sit with us until we get bored with each other — and then watch that monster march out the door.
Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
IMAGE: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker/Files