5 Moments from the 2016 Election That Should Have Made Everyone Say, “WHAT THE FUCK,” but Instead We Were Like “Nah it’s Fine”
This election cycle is the first in which I’ve felt the need to be truly involved. From pushing myself to read literally ALL of the Atlantic articles (so as to make my sisters feel inferior in front of my parents) to avidly posting about Hillary Clinton on Instagram (so all my fake ex-friends from high school can see how politically aware I am) (therefore making them feel inferior) (really I just want to make everyone feel inferior), I consider myself to be informed. I have witnessed some truly astounding moments these past several months, moments that have shaken me to my core. As an informed, black, gay Hillary supporter, I have grown disgusted with the political sphere. But, as a messy bitch who lives for drama, I am reborn.
Or at least I was. I wrote that first paragraph, and a couple more that I’ve since deleted, the week before November 8, 2016. You see, this article was going to be written in a very different tone. In my mind, there was a clear choice to be made. I wanted this to be a relatable, sassy criticism of a campaign that had progressed too far. I thought, “Donald Trump should not have made it this far. Our country will not let him make it too far.” But then he did, and then he went even farther. Donald Trump will be our next president.
This is a reality few anticipated. This is a reality that makes it hard to wake up in the morning. It makes it hard to walk down the street and look at the faces of people who pass you as you are forced to wonder if they voted for a man who hates so many things about who you are. It makes it hard to feel safe in a country in which half of your fellow citizens say you are unworthy of basic freedoms. This is a reality that makes me sick. But it’s a reality nonetheless, and, to survive, we must first acknowledge it; and then begin the process of healing, organizing and protesting, the vitality of which cannot be overstated. So, instead of writing an article that was going to be titled, “5 of the Best Moments from the 2016 Election Cycle,” and making it funny as hell (hopefully even funny enough for the general reader consensus to be “lmao this should be on Buzzfeed!”), I now have to write an article titled, “5 Moments from the 2016 Election Cycle That Should Have Made Everyone Say, ‘WHAT THE FUCK,’ but Instead We Were Like ‘Nah it’s Fine.” So, here you have it, 5 Moments from the 2016 Election Cycle That Should Have Made Everyone Say, “WHAT THE FUCK,” but Instead We Were Like “Nah it’s Fine:”
1. Donald Trump says Iowans are “stupid” – Hey guys! I watch a lot of Scandal. Probably too much Scandal! And I used to watch a lot of West Wing until I was just like, “eh, no, this show has too many seasons, and it’s too much of a commitment.” I could probably run a campaign at this point based on the sheer number of unspoken political rules I’ve absorbed over the past 5 years. And guess what rule number one is? DON’T INSULT THE VOTERS. Remember back in September of 2012 when Mitt Romney said his job was, “not to worry about those people,” referring to 47% of American voters who would be voting for President Obama, regardless of their best interests? Remember how bad we thought that was? Great, because this was SO MUCH WORSE. Donald Trump’s direct quote was, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” He didn’t just insult the people who weren’t voting for him across the country. He insulted the residents of a swing state, a swing state whose electoral votes he relied upon in the general election. Are you kidding me? Holy shit, in what fucking world is this ok?
2. Donald Trump insults the Khan family – There are few things Americans value more than the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces – and rightfully so. Their willingness to lay down their lives in the name of our safety is more than laudable – it’s precious. Humayun Khan died in Iraq on June 8, 2004, fighting for our country. However, Donald Trump didn’t think that was reason enough to shut the fuck up and be quiet when Khan’s father, Khizr Muazzam Khan, spoke out against him and his Islamophobic rhetoric at the DNC in 2016. He responded in a George Stephanopoulos interview with – what else – incredibly ignorant comments, comments that should have ended the nightmare we’d been living for 13 months. Specifically, Donald Trump insinuated that the reason why Khizr Khan’s wife, Ghazala Khan, stood silently beside her husband in solidarity as he addressed the DNC was because of religious restriction, and then compared his “sacrifices” (strictly monetary) to those of Humayun Khan when he was blown apart by a car bomb. (If you haven’t read Ghazala Khan’s Op-Ed response to Trump’s comments in The Washington Post it’s required reading and extremely important) The only conclusion that can be drawn from the lack of backlash over Donald Trump’s comments in reference to the Khan family is that I was wrong when I said, “there are few things Americans value more than the sacrifices of the members our armed forces.” There are few things Americans value more than the sacrifices of the members of our armed forces, but only when their skin is white and their eyes are blue and their last names are ones that sound like good ole’ American Apple Pie, like “Adams,” “Smith,” or, “Hamilton,” but certainly not “Khan.” *picks up scalding hot cup of tea and brings it to lips making you think I’m gonna take a sip but really I throw it in your face because I’m mad as hell and this shit is so beyond fucked up*
3. Leaked tape of Donald Trump speaking openly, proudly and perversely about sexually assaulting women - God, if you didn’t know this tape or one like it existed somewhere you are delusional. Donald Trump is actually the grossest human being alive. There is nothing about him that feels wholesome or cute in any way shape or form. He’s not even just the creepy uncle you see from time to time on family holidays – he is fully the killer from The Lovely Bones. A testament to how creepy he is to me and how creepy I’d wrongly assumed everyone else in this country found him to be was that when the BBC News headline about the tape’s release came up on my phone, I watched the video, kinda scoffed, locked my screen and didn’t think about it again until a friend brought it up at dinner that night. Allow me to unpack that for you real quick – I SAW A NOTIFICATION FROM A RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE NEWS SOURCE STATING THAT A MAJOR PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HAD BEEN FILMED BOASTING ABOUT GRABBING WOMEN BY THE PUSSY, AND I LITERALLY WAS JUST LIKE “HMM, SEEMS ON BRAND” AND WENT ON ABOUT MY DAY. I was unfazed, and I should have been the most fucking fazed I’ve ever been. Billy Bush got fired! He. Got. Fired. But Donald Trump is going to be our next president. Over the next four years, we cannot afford to be unfazed. We have to do better. I promise to do better.
4. Donald Trump claims Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, bringing crime, [and] they’re rapists.” – Oy vey, where to even begin on this one. To generalize an entire nationality is bad enough. To generalize an entire nationality and say they’re “bringing drugs” is worse. To generalize an entire nationality and say that they’re not only “bringing drugs” but also “bringing crime” is even worse. To generalize an entire nationality and say they’re “bringing drugs, bringing crime, [and] they’re rapists” is honestly just satanic. How have we become a nation where progressive language and social awareness are vilified to the point where purely racist and prejudiced speech is hailed as “bold” and somehow not disqualifying of a man who hopes to occupy an office meant to represent the masses?
5. Donald Trump calls for “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the country until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” – Couple things here: 1. That quote is from a written release directly from Donald Trump’s campaign. There was proofreading involved, yet no one saw fit to maybe at least try to make it sound eloquent or specify what our country’s representatives should do about whatever they think “is going on.” 2. Barring an entire religion from entering our country sounds pretty close to impossible without conducting religious testing/ probably also just being blatantly racist. Oh, what’s that you said? That’s fine with you? Maybe open a fucking history book. When has that literally EVER worked out for anyone except White, Christian people? Oh, what’s that again? Still fine with you? Cool. Just checking. This election cycle has proven that those who voted for trump (mainly white, non-hispanic, Christian, and male, mind you) don’t care what happens to anyone who isn’t one of them.
I think many of us operate under the assumption that those who voted for Trump are just plain dumb. I think that’s too generous. Maybe some of them are dumb, but I also think many of them are just atrociously selfish, not dumb. I’m not sure that I believe every Trump supporter is racist, but I can tell you that I do believe the majority of them know full well the implications of every single fucking thing Donald Trump has said or done over the past year and a half – nay, NEARLY 10 YEARS – and they really just don’t care. Donald Trump’s hopes for candidacy should have been dashed the moment he opened his mouth to lead a racist, xenophobic, hateful campaign against our current president in pursuit of his birth certificate. That was the start, and it should have been the end – full stop (actually the end should have been when he exited his mother’s womb as a child and slowly became the person he is today, but whatever). Now, in November of 2016, we live in a country where Donald Trump is leading the charge toward the America he deems beautiful. I think that America will be a lot whiter, a lot more patriarchal, a lot more transphobic, a lot more homophobic, a lot more islamophobic, a lot more ableist, and generally just really fucking shitty. The good thing about the marginalized communities we all come from is that we haven’t gotten what we wanted yet. We aren’t living in a perfect America right now. We have had to fight for years and years, and we’re still fighting every single day of our lives. We may not be fighting as hard right now as we will be come tomorrow, or the day after that, or January 20th, 2017, but we are fighting. We know how to fight – hell, we know how to kick and claw and stand and march and sit and die and scream and cry. We’ve done this before. We are strong, queens (and kings, but I use queens as a term for anyone I like)!
This, however, isn’t to say that you have to be screaming all the time, trying to change the mind of every single problematic person you encounter, as I know how exhausting that can be. Fighting takes many forms – self-love, for example, is one of the most effective forms of fighting. It demonstrates your ability to cherish who you are while everyone else is telling you not to. Do what you can. Fight how you can. But you still have to fight. Those who voted for Donald Trump sent us a message with their votes – hear them, but send a message back: No matter how long it takes, we will make you care for who we are, what we are, and whatever we choose to be. Much love to each and every one of you these next four years and always. You’ll always have a brother in me.
- Johnny Haywood
Illustration by Zoe Priest