Love still trumps hate
For what it’s worth, most of America didn’t vote for Donald Trump. As of this writing, 200,000 more votes have been cast for Clinton than for Trump, with more than six million going to other candidates.
And for what it’s worth, most of America fears Donald Trump. Exit polls show fifty-eight percent of voters were concerned or scared by the prospect of a Trump presidency. Millions feared Donald Trump, yet voted for him anyway.
Although the majority of Americans feared a Trump presidency, those who were the reason for that fear are emboldened: white nationalist militias, hate groups like the KKK, the proudly self-proclaimed “deplorables” of the rising alt-Right. They will claim a mandate.
Of course, hate has no mandate – many who voted for Trump did so for many other reasons. To appoint a judge who would end a perceived massacre of the unborn. To protect guns or coal jobs that Democrats have caricatured as irredeemable foes. To give, as LA Times columnist Vincent Bevins said of both Brexit and Trump’s candidacy, “very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for thirty years.” In particular, who is benefitting from globalization and economic growth, and what do we do for those left behind?
It is not only by their own failings that the elite organs of American democracy – government, journalism, science, and academia – have lost the faith of 60 million Trump voters (and many others besides). Terrorists, partisan press, climate denialists, free-market zealots, and every other kind of cynic and Machiavellian have always found money or power in warping legitimate fears to sow division and doubt.
Now, let’s meet division with dialogue, doubt with faith. Have faith in your friends and family: perhaps love for an individual will overturn fear of the faceless other. Have faith in those who tell truth to power: perhaps your ACLU donation or newspaper subscription will fuel a candle in the darkness. Have faith in our democratic institutions; run for office and fight with every remaining legal and democratic tool we have to protect others’ rights.
And religious faith? I long ago drifted from the Methodism of my childhood, but today I recall Christ’s and Wesley’s calls for radical love – a love of action, understanding, and solidarity; a love of building bridges and of fighting fiercely for your fellow human and your planet.
“Don’t mourn, fight like hell,” said Wednesday morning’s Mother Jones headline. Fight hate with radical love that says to immigrants, and refugees, and people of color, and religious minorities, and all who fear Trump’s America, “I will stand with you and defend your life, your rights, your humanity.” A radical love that says to those so disillusioned they thought Trump alone could fix it, “I will cross lines of state and class and religion to ensure that your voice is heard by more than hateful demagogues.”
There will always be men like Trump. There must always be many men and women who stand together – not uniform, but unified – to oppose them.
Bennett McIntosh is a Masters candidate in the Graduate Program in Science Writing.