I DID THIS. It’s my fault.
Now, I’m not saying I’m singularly responsible for the election of the most unqualified candidate for the presidency in the 240-year history of the republic. I’m neither that potent nor important. But I must bear my share of the blame for why America seemingly decided to break bad.
Yes, I did my citizen’s duty by casting my ballot. I voted for Clinton and Kaine. But I could have done more. I knew from my decades of experience as a journalist covering despotic rulers in the Middle East, Latin America, and elsewhere that the kind of tyranny Trump offers is not an anomaly. In fact, it’s the norm.
People like me who have seen firsthand how toxic this kind of leadership is must speak out and stand up against it. In those countries, where dictators masquerading as proponents of democracy rule, opposition leaders and activists are often imprisoned and killed. We’re not there yet in the U.S., but we could be if people fail to speak up, speak loudly, and speak often.
I told myself I didn’t say more or get involved in the campaign in the name of journalistic impartiality. It wasn’t my place as a purveyor of “objective” truths. At one point during the election, when I did post something particularly scathing about Trump on Twitter, one of my editors at one of the Big Three networks called me out for “alienating a large portion of our audience.” I was warned to tamp it down or else.
With my wife in her third trimester, I decided I couldn’t risk the loss of income. As it turned out, the outlet cut me off a couple of months later anyway, citing “budget” issues.
After that I largely kept my opinions in check. In the meantime I went about covering stories in Turkey about Syrian refugees that went largely overlooked while Americans watched in either delirious admiration, or heart attack-inducing exasperation, at the rust-colored, man-boy’s march to the White House.
When Trump won I tried to place the blame for the outcome on others, perhaps subconsciously hoping to deflect it from myself.
I wanted to strangle that portion of the American public obviously lacking an even basic understanding of history (come on, none of you at least googled “Who’s Hitler?” during the course of a race in which Trump was often compared to Der Fuhrer?) or how government works.
Apparently to many Trump supporters, a president is someone who can single-handedly fix everything that ails America with the flick of the wrist. They seem to think that every one of President-elect Trump’s predecessors failed to fix everything because they hate America or simply lack the balls to execute said wrist flick.
These are the same folks who think professional wrestling is real, I told myself as the horrifying results of the election became clear.
But my loathing for misinformed Americans didn’t last long. And it was misguided. Putting many of them all in the same category, or say, “basket of deplorables,” isn’t fair or helpful.
I then turned my ire on the news media that covered this democracy-derailing train wreck of a presidential race.
For more than a year they allowed Trump to largely spout unchecked racist bile for the sake of attracting more eyeballs to their cable news shows and a sharp uptick in web clicks. They did this before summoning the moral fortitude to occasionally call out his cadre of Eva Braun Barbie mouthpieces like Scottie Nell Hughes.
I felt justified in my contempt because I’d covered a portion of the 2008 presidential race from Miami, where I was based at the time, and wrote about Florida’s forever screwball electorate. I reported on how the aging (i.e. dying) Cuban-American population there was firmly in the McCain-Palin corner while the younger, growing generation of Latinos broke for Obama.
As such I was convinced the same would hold true this year, especially since Cheeto Mussolini wanted nothing more than to send many of their recently arrived friends, relatives, and compatriots packing back across the Rio Grande to Mexico, or whichever country they were leaving behind for a better life in America.
That Trump actually did better than Mitt Romney with Latino voters was proof positive in my estimation that this current crop of political reporters had dropped the ball. But my resentment of the press corps covering Trump didn’t stick either. I soon realized this was all on me and I was going to have to own it and do something about if I wanted to look myself in the mirror without disgust.
I won’t keep my mouth shut any longer. I’m afraid America is starting down a very dark path in which thoughtfulness and experience is not revered and rather regarded with suspicion and condemnation.
I’m going to keep speaking out so that four years from now the culmination of my and every reasonable dissenter’s rejection of Trump policy horrors brings us back from the brink of destruction.
Hopefully it isn’t already too late. If so, I have only myself to blame.