Americans are in a tough spot. The one thing that seems to unify Democrats, Independents, and most Republicans alike is the horror and embarrassment they share in the likely chance that the Republican presidential nomination will be handed over to Donald Trump.
Regardless of any future Trump does or does not have in the White House, there is one truth that has emerged throughout his racist, misogynistic, tyrannical, and ludicrous presidential campaign; the ugly side of America has deep roots that have infected more Americans than we originally imagined.
With Trump giving a loud, blatant, and unapologetic voice to their fears, angers, and misgivings, this ugly side of America has emerged as strong as ever, demanding that things “go back to how they used to be,” wanting America to “be great again,” violently shoving back at all the equality that was not only hard-won but that is still moving forward.
They’ve always been there. We’ve all seen the horribly racist comments Obama has had to endure during his presidency. It’s the fact that their voice has been stomped out for the simple reason that they had no (semi-credible) voice people paid any attention to. Then Trump emerged on the scene.
It’s the outward, blatant, and honest hate that is perpetuated day in and day out by this nasty side of America that has left so many wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Love doesn’t win over people’s hearts and minds anymore.
Compassion is seen as not only a weakness, but it’s associated with having a “bleeding heart” for listening to the cries of injustice that ring true around the country (and more often than not, the world). Hate is so normal for these inexhaustible people that they don’t even hide behind anonymity anymore—they proudly post racist, xenophobic, and threatening comments on articles with their full name and profile picture attached.
Jennifer Sabin of The Huffington Post puts it perfectly:
“But what I didn’t understand until this election, until I started paying closer attention to the voices of ordinary Americans, is how terrifying it is to read what some of them write on public forums, or to hear them say out loud what they really think about other Americans. The racists and bigots of America have always been out there. There have always been hideous trolls on the Internet. But now they are emboldened in a big way by the bellicose Donald Trump. He’s opened Pandora’s box, and nobody can shut it.”
The other side of America that is so shocked by this has fallen into a trap that not only perpetuates this hate but makes it even louder. Some of the comments and the nasty threats are so bad that they are shared—with a tagline that calls out the behavior, of course. But this simply numbs us to the sentiments. This ugly side of America so clearly shares no shame or they wouldn’t have posted it with their full name and a photo attached. In the end, sharing it makes it a little more okay every time it’s retweeted, reposted, screenshot and blasted on social media.
So what are we supposed to do? Reason with these people? We all know how well that would go. Are we supposed to ignore it? Of course not. Are we supposed to fight fire with fire, matching their crazy with our own tempers? Definitely not—that never works. But one thing we always must remember; if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
Right now, the GOP has the right idea (a surprise, that's for sure). They don’t talk about Donald Trump all that much, but they’re fully aware of his tactics and outwardly disapprove. They don’t particularly put him on blast for his behavior, but they refuse to advocate for him or endorse his candidacy (see Ryan Paul’s latest interview on the subject). No matter what, Trump will eventually fade into the background and disappear altogether, depriving the racist, xenophobic, hateful bigots of their precious bullhorn. The sooner, the better, too—the longer he has an audience, the more likely it is that they’ll have another bullhorn to use to their advantage.
As for his supporters, that's another matter entirely. Those of us appalled by this behavior simply need to be louder than his supporters are. It’s a well-known fact that on the internet, the crazies run the show simply because they’re louder. We need to voice what we want, how we feel, what we’re happy with, and what we’re disappointed in as much as we can. We can’t just “like” articles, shake our heads behind our screens, and hope for the best—that’s not going to work. It’s about making our own comments, making our own voices, thoughts, and opinions heard online and offline.
Trump is an embarrassment to the GOP and the entire Republican Party, but he has tapped into an audience that has been dying for the opportunity to voice how much they disapprove of the direction America is taking—you know, the one with food stamps, welfare, anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and affordable access to family planning.
That’s the America that we should want to fight for, that we should want to see continue to grow, and that we proudly should want the world to know us as. We’re slowly progressing towards greatness, and we shouldn't let hate to stand in our way. We should use innovation, love, compassion, understanding, and hard work to get us where we want to go—together.
Banner Image Credit: Reuters