“Let’s talk about something else.”
“This is too depressing.”
“I can’t believe people are responding to this idiocy and hate.”
Sound familiar? For millions of Americans, some version of the above has been part of every dinner conversation, every social media exchange, and every chat around the virtual water cooler. It’s easy to listen to all the negativity (the wall, the ban, the name-calling) and witness the weapons-law-assisted expressions of hatred and lunacy like we saw in Orlando, and feel a sense of alienation and hopelessness about our country — where some days it seems like stupidity and contempt for others are the qualities we hold in the highest regard.
But keep this in mind. When it comes to the direction of the country over the past decade, the momentum is strongly on the side of progressive values. Love is more free. Race is no longer ignored. We have a black president and we’re about to have our first woman in the Oval Office. And we have corporate leaders who are willing to stand up on the side of progressive values in places like North Carolina and Indiana.
The rise of Trump is in part a backlash against the progress that’s been made. The North Carolina bathroom brouhaha is a reaction to the fact that we now have leaders and a public ready to fight for the rights of people who have historically been ignored or shunned. The cheers for the wall are in part a reaction to the fact that Americans who are black and brown now have a voice (and the numbers to make their votes count).
I’m not arguing that everything is great. And this post is as much an attempt to raise my own spirits as yours. But it pays to remind ourselves that we’re on the right track. Trump can either create a wave of the worst of our national character, or get caught in the undertow as we assert the best of it.
But the key word is assert. Momentum can and does change. This is the wrong time to despair and stick our heads in the sand, and the right time to draw a line in it. The current backlash of hate needs to met with an equally forceful push to stay the course. And that includes compassion for our fellow Americans who are rightfully worried and angry about the economic rug that’s been pulled out from under them. It won’t be enough to let love rule. We’ve got to fight to make it rule. Trumpism is all about building a wall. Historically, it may look more like a speedbump.