Odysseus had been away from home for 20 years. The first 10 of these he spent fighting at Troy, as recounted in the Iliad. The second 10, he spent questing his return home, as recounted in the Odyssey. He arrived home at Ithaca to find his wife, Penelope, being courted by suitors. Upon this realization, the hero:
“… Smote his breast, and rebuked his heart, saying: ‘Endure, my heart; a worse thing even than this didst thou once endure…’” (Odyssey, Book XX. Trans. A.T. Murray)
That’s essentially how I feel upon last night’s’s grim actuality.
The unthinkable has happened. Donald Trump has won the presidency.
We face a calamity whose significance can hardly be articulated.
As I’ve discussed in previous installments of this series, Trump is a candidate who has campaigned on white rage and resentment. He has sowed divisiveness in our country by means of outright racism, xenophobia, misogyny, etc.
Time and again, Trump proved that he completely lacked any qualification, whatsoever, to serve as president of the United States.
Despite all that, our electorate has propelled him to the highest office in the country. We will have a president who publicly boasted of sexually assaulting women, calls himself ‘smart’ for dodging federal taxes for years and built his campaign on building a border wall with Mexico, which would somehow be sponsored by the Mexican government.
The list of egregious proposals Trump has built his campaign around would take at least a volume to discuss, and I lack the stomach at present to want to note them all.
Most of you reading this, if I may conjecture, are probably young university students. You come from diverse backgrounds, and you acknowledge the reality of our society as one governed by ever-increasing diversity. You’re concerned about jobs, health care, education and our overall social progress.
Donald Trump has not substantively campaigned on any of those issues.
Instead, he’s harped about how we’re losing jobs to China and Mexico. He’s repeatedly promised to do something about that without delving into specifics.
Trump has cited free trade as a noxious disease, crippling our economy by taking our manufacturing jobs without offering a clear alternative. He has launched many a tirade against NAFTA, citing it as a major source of job depletion, when in fact, it’s only had a one percent impact on manufacturing jobs.
In many ways, Trump has been the worst political candidate we’ve seen in our lifetimes. It is a maddening and revolting fact that the American people have now given him authorization to enter the White House and govern our country.
Time will tell how much of a pernicious impact this man has on our society. He’s repeatedly promised to deport at least 5 million undocumented immigrants by means of a Gestapo-like police force. The logistics of this happening are unlikely—I hope—but someone with such a platform should have never made it within a stone’s throw of the presidential nomination.
Our electorate has some tremendous darkness within itself which must now be confronted. Let it not be any secret that Trump has ridden white, working class support to the White House, on a platform explicitly positioned against the interests of women, people of color, immigrants (documented or otherwise), the international community, etc.
In the wake of a Trump victory, international markets are already in turmoil. The global community is reasonably expecting something along the lines of another Brexit, with similarly ruinous consequences.
As for me, the writer of this article, I’m both distraught and resigned.
Months ago, I pitched a whole series of articles about the negative effects of the Trump campaign on our country in the hopes that we would never live to see a President Trump. As recently as the previous installment, I was confident a Trump victory could not happen. I sincerely believed our electorate knew better.
Last night’s events have proven me wrong. As distressing as they are to me, there are so many people out there for whom Trump’s election is an even more fatal, life-altering threat.
We are left wondering to what degree the horrendous promises of the Trump campaign will be fulfilled in his presidency. We wonder if friends of ours without documented status will be deported, whether Planned Parenthood will survive, what sort of ignominy will come forth from a conservative Supreme Court, etc.
I can say this much about myself. In the face of whatever tyrannical onslaught a Trump White House decides to throw at us, I’ll keep writing. I may be dispirited and disillusioned, but I will keep writing about Trump’s misdeeds for all of us who know with lucid conviction that we deserve better in this country.
Let the dictator-elect guillotine me for it, if so he wills. I’d greet the gallows with a smile on my face were I to wage a doomed war against him with my words. I’ll aim to be Odysseus, and die gladly if it kills me.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr account.
Horus Alas is a senior philosophy major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.