I watched a YouTube video of an elderly couple being harassed by Antifa activists as they tried to enter a rally for the Canadian far right politician Maxime Bernier. At the time, I though “how can you be so cruel and inhumane as to harass elderly people because of their political views!” But then…
But then I was sitting down, eating my lunch, and facetiming with a non-white friend. Someone in the restaurant asked me a political question and I answered rudely. This led an older woman sitting at the next table to say “but Trump’s done a lot of good for America.” I replied that he was doing a great job overseeing the genocidal ICE detention facilities, permanently separating more than 540 children from their parents, creating fewer jobs than Obama had, and lying about a virus that has killed 220,000 Americans.
Her only response “You must love that n***** woman and want a communist country.”
I preceded to get up from my table and explain to her in a not-so-calm manner that she was a fucking racist. She burst into tears and I couldn’t finish my lunch. Not that my fat ass needed the fried chicken anyway.
This lady reminded me that Trump is not the problem. He is the lump on your body that tells you have cancer, but he is not the cancer itself. The cancer is inequality, hate, racism, bigotry, and white privilege. All of these cultural pathogens combined to give us Trump and yes we want to remove that lump next week, but the battle does not end there.
Is Joe Biden the progressive candidate that we have always wanted? Hell no. But he and Kamala Harris are at least sympathetic ears. If we keep the foot on the pedal after the election, rather than just sitting back and pretending like the war is over – as many progressives did in 2008 and 2012 – we might be able to nudge Joe and Kamala us in the right direction. We are playing the long-game here.
The first step in excising our cultural cancer is making it abundantly clear that racism, and bigotry in any of its forms, is not welcome in our society. We have to isolate and cancel those who refuse to evolve and adapt. This doesn’t mean that cancelling people for personally holding conservative beliefs, or that placing true conservatives (yes this group still exists, though small in number) under the same umbrella as Trumpkins and the alt-right; we cancel ideas, notions, or friendships that promote inequality.
The second step is to attack anti-intellectualism. Those of us who are educators must be prepared to invite our friends into our classrooms, to show them our classroom materials, and to sit down and educate them the same way that we would educate a hung-over 18-year-old student at 8 am on a Monday: Slowly with a great deal of patience.
If we do not take the time to educate these people, then how can we expect them to evolve out of their ignorance? This is a hard task, and it requires people to want to learn, but I know from experience that, as long as they have not gone down that INFOWars/Qanon rabbit hole, there is still hope.
The final step is to keep the pressure up our elected representatives. We have to keep turning up at their town halls, writing emails and calling. We have to stay in their ears. They need to realize how important we – and the ideas we hold, and policies we advocate – are to their political futures, so they won’t, as Barack Obama and the Democrats did after 2009; stop listening to the voters who elected them.
We have a huge battle on election day, and in the following weeks when Donald Trump will most certainly try to use the courts to maintain his hold on power. But when he is excised from that office like the cancerous mass that he is, we will have only won one battle. There is a whole war still to fight.