Yes, I Am Afraid

I know I have family and friends who voted for Donald Trump. I know those people are … perhaps not happy, but satisfied with the results of yesterday’s election. This post is for you. Not to attack, but to hopefully help you understand why I and so many others are angry and afraid.

To begin with, Trump has promised to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is far from perfect, but it offers protection for those with pre-existing conditions. People like myself and my wife, among many others. I have friends whose lives were literally saved because the ACA allowed them to get health insurance. I’m among the fortunate — when Trump takes steps to eliminate my family’s health insurance coverage, we have an alternate option through my wife’s job. For many others, this is a very real life-or-death situation.

The counterargument is that Trump will replace the ACA with something better. However, his statement on his website says nothing about protection for people with preexisting conditions, and offers little concrete information on how this plan will work. Understand, I want to see something better than the ACA. Nothing I’ve seen makes me believe a Trump administration will create something better, something that helps protect the health and lives of our most vulnerable people.

Trump has called global warming bullshit and a hoax. He’s promised to cancel the Paris accord on the environment, reduce regulation, shrink the EPA, and is putting together a transition team of “veteran Washington insiders, many of them lobbyists for fossil fuel companies and skeptics about climate science.” (Source)

I’m 42 years old, and there’s a decent chance I’ll be dead and gone before the worst effects of climate change hit. But I’m scared for the world my children and grandchildren will have to survive in.

I know a fair number of Americans aren’t worried about climate change. But “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” (Source) How much worse will we insist things get before we start taking this seriously?

Trump has routinely encouraged bullying and violence at his rallies, and we’ve seen his most extreme fans following suit. Comments like “A guy like that… [would] be carried out in a stretcher,” or telling the crowd to “knock the crap out of” any protesters they see (and then offering to pay the legal fees). He’s insulted and attacked women, people of color, the disabled, military veterans, and so many more. Marginalized groups in this country are already at a greater risk of harassment and violence. Legitimizing Trump’s bullying rhetoric will only make things worse.

The response I’ve seen here is that he doesn’t really mean it, or it’s all just talk, or whatever. But in the meantime, we’re seeing hate crimes against transgender people and black churches. I truly hope these incidents are a fluke, but as we watch a former KKK Grand Wizard celebrate Trump’s victory, I hope you can understand why people are afraid this will legitimize hatred and bullying and racism and bigotry and violence.

Trump openly bragged about being able to assault women. “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” I’ve worked with rape survivors. I’ve seen how hard it is to speak out against rapists and abusers with power. I’ve seen the backlash against survivors. I’ve watched our society continue to protect rapists and turn our backs on victims. And now half the country has signaled that this is an acceptable attitude for our most powerful elected official.

“It’s just locker room talk.” Even if you refuse to listen to the various women who claim Trump harassed and assaulted them — including one girl who was 13 years old at the time — we’re still talking about a man who believes this is an acceptable and normal way to talk about women. Who thinks joking about sexual assault is just boys being boys. You might not personally approve of what Trump said, but you’ve told everyone in America — victims and perpetrators alike — that you’re willing to accept it.

I could keep going. I haven’t even mentioned Pence, a man who claims to be pro-life but supports abstinence-only education, an approach which actually increases unwanted pregnancies. Or the potential gutting of protections for LGBTQ people. Or the stoking of hatred against Muslims. (I received an email a few weeks ago talking about voting for Trump because he’d “protect us from terrorists” … when in reality, you’re more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist.)

So yes, I’m afraid. I’m afraid for myself, my wife, my children, my friends and extended family, my community, and my nation. I’m afraid for the world. (You can’t build a wall to keep out climate change.)

I don’t expect you to agree with me on everything. I do ask that you acknowledge these fears are real and valid. You might believe none of them will come to pass. You might believe America’s future is bright and hopeful for all. Obviously, I disagree.

Look, I hope you’re right. But if not, I hope you won’t turn your backs on the people who being hurt, and who are most vulnerable to being hurt more in the coming years. I hope you won’t rationalize and excuse the damage being done. I hope you’ll hold the men you elected accountable for their words and deeds. I hope you, like any patriotic American, will find the strength and courage to speak up and demand better.

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