The last two weeks have been a flurry of flights and European cities. I attended the Web Summit in Lisbon for the first time, a conference where the world’s tech community comes together to exchange ideas. I was there by myself, which was a bit isolating and overwhelming, but also afforded me the chance to speak to people from all over the globe.
In the middle of all this was, of course, the election. To say I am shocked and saddened by the outcome is an understatement. More to the point, I am still in the denial stage of grief and only since returning home have I started to even process what happened.
I was at dinner with a friend and several of his friends the day after the vote. It’s important to know that all the men present were pro-business and while not necessarily pro-Trump, were definitely anti-establishment. They saw the election as a way to shake things up – and I came to see that side of the argument.
What I still can’t wrap my head around is how Trump (or “He Who Shall Not Be Named” as many of us are now calling him) is the person to do the shaking. Unless you want the vibrations to be racist, misogynistic, bigoted and from a place of poorly-run businesses.
One of the men asked me, “How then, do you think, did Trump win the election?”
His jaw dropped at my answer, and let me explain. If you look at the numbers of who voted for Trump, it was vastly white people. While I don’t think all those voters are racists in the traditional sense of the word, in that they would deny someone a job or call a person names because of the color of the skin – that is exactly what they did with their vote. By overlooking Trump’s many, many, many, many, many comments and actions in that direction. By not being concerned about how others would be treated in a Trump presidency.
I am first-generation American from Germany, and unbelievably, have always carried some sense of German guilt, even though I wasn’t even alive during World War II. It has always fascinated me how Hitler rose to power, and my husband can attest that I have pretty much watched every documentary in the world about it. The comparisons to Trump are undeniable, and trust me, as I have been making these statements on social media throughout the campaign, I do not take them lightly.
In the first week since the election, a lot of violence has broken out, on both sides, and I am scared. I particularly worry, though, about the people emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric, and that somehow now, in 2016, we have KKK members openly walking across bridges in broad daylight.
I actually almost stopped myself from signing an anti Stephen Bannon petition yesterday for fear it would put me on a watchlist.
This is how it started in Germany. Good people became afraid to speak out.
You know what else happened? The normalization of hate.
Hitler lied to the German people about the Jews much in the same way Trump has been lying about Mexicans and Muslims. Every lie that is accepted is chipping away at our collective ideals, and we use terms like “alt-right” for a group that really is just a bunch of white supremacists. The king of whom may become Chief of Staff.
I feel so completely overwhelmed right now, and I know many of you do too. I have seen jokes about “Netflix and Cringe” to avoid the news. My husband suggested I add an extension to my browser to filter out news of Trump.
I just can’t handle it yet.
But, soon, we must.
Bryan and I had a long talk about what we can do, and even moving from the country was put on the table. My 14 year old son texted that exact question late in the evening on November 8th. I really hope it does not come to that, because I love my country and we especially love Denver.
And, if we want to prevent history from repeating itself, we must look to what we can do, each in our way, to stand up for our neighbors. I do not have that part figured out yet and know that there will be many talks in my house about what that looks like in the coming months.
We must protect Obamacare, Medicare and Planned Parenthood. We must be allies to people of color. We must protect the rights of our LGBT friends. All of these will certainly be like huge bullseyes for the Trump/Pence administration.
Until then, I have about 50 movies in my queue to watch.