When we learned that George Michael died at the age of 53 earlier this week, my roommate and I just started listing all the major events of 2016. David Bowie died, the Summer Olympics happened in Rio, and, oh yeah, Trump became our president-elect.
Like millions of other Americans, I’m still grappling with the reality of having Trump as the next POTUS. Why did he win? So many reasons: the Electoral College system, Jill Stein, Clinton’s lack of attention to the working-class, fake news and media, racism, and etc., etc.
Not sure who or what is to blame. I remember Liberals flocked to social media the day after Election Day to express their shock at the end of what was a long and painful election. Some compared Trump’s victory to 9/11, which makes me cringe. My gut tells me that there’s a great difference between learning that Trump won and a mass murder in which thousands of people died at the hands of terrorists. His victory remains a tragedy for me because it signifies the death of American ideals. His surprising ascent to the highest office in the land legitimizes all the misogyny and racism his campaign has illuminated.
I’m reproducing here a short piece I wrote way back in March. I realize that posting something about Trump’s misogyny won’t change anything. But for me, posting this piece is useful much in the same way as revisiting those letters my elementary school teachers made me write to my older self. Posting this piece now, at the end of 2016, forces me to acknowledge a shift in how I, and presumably other Americans, view this country before and after Trump’s win. The 2016 election has taught me so much about the brokenness of our politics and our collective moral imagination as Americans.
Guess which 2016 presidential hopeful said the following?
“A person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”
“Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”
If you guessed Trump, you’re right. Are you surprised? A powerful new video presents actresses delivering some of Trump’s infamous one-liners about women—including the above. Some have been made as recently as last month. The video is funded by Our Principles PAC, a Republican organization formed by supporters of Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. The video has attracted almost two million views since it was posted on Monday.
By now, whatever comes out of Trump’s mouth has become predictably offensive, so his misogyny and sexist conceptions of gender roles are hardly news. The video’s title, “Real Quotes from Donald Trump About Women,” suggests that Trump’s comments are too egregious to be believed. They are so unreal that the actresses emphatically remind us that they are, in fact, “real.”
But what is also important to note is the need for the video in the first place. The video’s existence begs the question of why the American people need the reminder that Trump is a misogynist-sexist-racist-what-have-you, even though he has been a long-standing public figure with a lengthy record of making derogatory remarks about women. People are spending a lot of time and resources to hate on Trump to avoid what is surely to be a political apocalypse if he is elected, but to what end?
The apparent virtue of the video’s message is to vote against Trump (duh!). But it does not offer an alternative (and actually highlights the divisiveness of American politics). Such negative knowledge hardly constitutes a sufficient course of action for the American citizen who might actually want to make America great again. What, then, are we saying about the American democratic process?
As Trump takes over America state by state—he just won Florida tonight—we must think hard about the ways in which we cultivate collective action, for they are just as revealing as Trump’s vulgarity. The video cleverly avoided Trump’s style of mudslinging and instead presented his quotes minimally and efficiently. But to hate on a hater does not do enough to solve the problem.
Photo credit: By Michael Vadon – Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45496445