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17 Reasons for Optimism in the Age of Trump

It cannot be understated how much Trump’s election has deepened and widened an already enormous divide in our country. Many people have legitimate concerns about this man that are based on things he has said and has already done as president. This is unlike Obama’s detractors and their wild conspiracy theories, like Obama being a foreign born Muslim, who was going to impose Sharia Law, take everyone’s guns, and force people to live in FEMA trailer parks.

That said, while living in a nightmare scenario many of us never thought could happen, I think it becomes all the more important to find reasons to be optimistic.

imagesLet’s start with the Women’s March. I went to bed the night before having no intention of going. I woke up the next morning to a barrage of snap chats and Facebook posts from friends around the world, many of whom are not even American, attending large rallies on three different continents, and I knew I had to go. I think I’m not alone in saying that it was the kind of pick-yourself up-off-the-mat pep-talk I desperately needed. And if the love, frustration, passion and empowerment on display at these world-wide marches can be harnessed into future action, that would be reason enough for optimism.

Even with Trump, this is still the best time in human history to be alive. Despite Trump’s repeated lies, there’s never been a safer and more peaceful time in human history to exist than right now. This is to say nothing of the rapidly improving quality-of-life occurring globally, which is due in no small part to technology that was unthinkable just a few decades ago. To that end, the peaceful transition of power our country continues to engage in exemplifies this. The divides between Americans on so many significant and meaningful issues that go much deeper than what the optimal tax rate is would have been settled with violence in the not so distant past. Instead, we live in a country and in a time where even massive differences are settled with a ballot and not a bullet, even when the “winner” didn’t get the most votes because that’s the rules.

images (5)Try as they might, they cannot erase Obama from history. The seeds of Obama’s presidency and Hillary’s history-making run have already been sown, and they will yield amazing fruits in the years to come. Think about it: A generation of children has grown up with the unimaginable: a black president. They also watched a woman come within a hair of being president. Trump might undo some of Obama’s accomplishments, but he can’t undo what children around the world have seen for the last eight years: a dignified black man and his beautiful family occupying the White House and a tremendously qualified woman win the popular vote.

Trump supporters are going to have a hard time breeding. One of the biggest trends I’ve seen following the election is a huge spike in the number of women saying, “Trump supporters need not apply,”in dating profiles. (Yes, I online date. Who doesn’t?). True, the majority of white women voted for Trump, but as a whole, the vast majority of women did not. Combine that with the fact that Trump’s base is basically a sausage party, and I get the impression The Donald’s single male supporters might start to understand what it’s like to be a man looking for a girlfriend in China.

Trump’s going to get some wins, but that’s not always going to be a bad thing. The GOP has been such a roadblock for the last eight years that some unbelievably basic, common sense and beneficial things didn’t get done, all in the name of keeping Obama from getting a win. Well, now some of those things, like paid maternity leave and infrastructure spending, might get done.

Trump’s going to break everything, and that might not be a bad thing. I once had a car that was seemingly on its last leg every day for two years. However, I also got used to having a troublesome car and anything short of it not turning on excused me from investing time and money into fixing it. Well, that’s been our government for a long time. We’ve known some serious things needed to be fixed, but grew comfortable with the idea it was doing good enough. However, as the Trump family and his appointees get ready to drive our country like a getaway car, chances are we’ll have to make some major repairs to get it going again.

downloadWe never have to listen to political Evangelicals again. Whatever people might have thought about this group before, it is now beyond argument that their connection to god is iffy, at best. It would be one thing for Devil worshipers to claim Trump was sent by a higher power, but to watch “Christians” say this makes me wonder what it is they like about Jesus. Either way, all their claims of carrying about morality went out the window when they voted for a thrice-married, porn-appearing pussy grabber.

hqdefaultHe can only take us so far back in four years. Perhaps it’s one of those unappreciated marks of progress, but even Trump, who is an outright racist, isn’t coming anywhere close to advocating for the racial policies America had in the not-so-distant past. Believe me, I want the Department of Justice to keep investigating police departments across the country, but that’s not going to happen under Trump. However, we’re also not going to go back to a time of segregating public facilities and a big part of that is because even Trump knows most of his supporters wouldn’t go for something that blatantly racist.

Trump and the Hollywood-casting-call of white males in his cabinet will destroy the notion of white male supremacy. Think I said all I need to say about that.

The rule of law and the First Amendment aren’t just part of our system of government, they’re cultural beliefs. I’m not one of those flag waving, “We’re Number 1,” “‘Murica!” yelling Americans. I don’t wear my patriotism on my sleeveless, bald eagle T-shirt or on the bumper of my jacked-up truck. However, I consider the US’s founding documents to be among the most important words ever written. The blue print it lays out for democracy and the principles and rights enshrined in it have become the corner stone for the modern era of human history. I feel confident in saying many Americans will not sit silently by if Trump makes a serious attack on the First Amendment or the judiciary. Perhaps it’s because of my law school education, but I do have some faith in the independence of our judiciary, and its ability to stand up to the president, as we’ve seen with the Muslim ban.

downloadThe next good meme or SNL sketch could bring this administration down: The ability to make fun of and troll the Mango-in-Chief is so important because it’s easy to imagine one of them causing him to overreact to such a degree that even the GOP will be forced to do something about. So keep those memes coming of the Small-Handed One, keyboard warriors. Not only do they provide some much needed laughs, they seem to be a potent weapon.

We can no longer deny racism. I was lucky enough to visit South Africa in the last months of Nelson Mandela’s presidency and just four years after apartheid officially ended. While there, my friend, a black South African who had gone to college in America, told me something that I’ll never forget. He said, “The Racism here is better than in America.” Again, this was a country just four years removed from apartheid. I asked him how that could possibly be the case and he simply said, “It’s better here because here we know we have a problem.” There have been times when I’ve nearly driven myself crazy trying to convince some otherwise intelligent people that racism is still a major issue here. I haven’t had a conversation like that since Trump started winning primaries.

Now is the time of heroes. This might sound cheesy, but it’s the truth. You can’t stand up for principles when they aren’t being challenged. You can’t be brave in the face of a nonexistent threat. The coming days, weeks, months and years(?) are going to require people to prove who they are. Far too many leaders in this country have been able to get away with giving lip service to their claimed beliefs. Now people will have to prove them. Perhaps we’ve already seen this with the organizers of the women’s march, rogue national park rangers, a woman who persisted, and fleets of lawyers rushing to airports to help detained immigrants and even a seemingly-reinvigorated John McCain .

We don’t have to wait four years to make him a lame duck. We are about one year and nine months away from being able to castrate this administration if we simply do something progressives have been loathed to do in the past: vote in midterm and local elections.

downloadAnd we don’t have to win over Trump followers to do it. Trump famously said he could shoot a person in Time Square and he wouldn’t lose any votes. The longer his presidency goes without his own base calling him out on his lies and insanity the truer that statement becomes. However, along with not ranting about these people anymore, I’ve also decided to stop engaging them. (There’s not much room left for conversation when a group of people have been taught to disregard any fact that goes against what their Dear Leader tells them is true.) Luckily, we don’t need them. Nearly hundred million eligible voters sat this election out, and polling shows that many of them don’t like the Mango-in-Chief. We need to focus on them and not the cult-like following he calls his base.

images (4)We aren’t going anywhere: This has been the mantra for a lot of people since the election. It is also another reason the Women’s March I went to here in New Orleans was so uplifting. I saw white people caring black lives matter placards, hetero couples marching for their homosexual loved ones, native born citizens demanding dignity for immigrants and Christian, Jews and Atheists asking for fair treatment of Muslims. in short, I saw what makes America Great!

We’re trying to turn a huge page in history, and that was never going to be done easily: Our society has made tremendous strides in recent decades. In a very real sense, 1950’s America had more in common with life 500 years ago, in terms of social structure, than it does with life here in 2017. Gays were in hiding, Blacks did not have anything close to equal rights and a woman’s place was behind her husband and in the home. While Trump and his followers are trying to bring us back to a 1950’s kind of America, I say good luck! Just like we’re not going anywhere, the integration of the races and cultures of the world cannot be undone. They can slow it down, but they can’t stop it. Trump’s supporters essentially voted to stop the world from spinning, but no matter what Trump’s tells them, that’s something he just cant do.

Brian M. Williams
Brian is the author of the recently published travel memoir "Stranger in a Stranger Land: My Six Years in Korea." (Click this profile for more information.) He's also a law school grad with Southern charm and Virginia roots. He recently returned to America after nearly seven years traveling and working abroad. He loves dive bars, international travel and foreign accents. He's particularly good at small talk and was the first person to notice there's no "I" in "team."
https://www.facebook.com/StrangerInAStrangerLand/

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