They Ain't Whupped Us Yet

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a bigger margin than John Kennedy in 1960 or Richard Nixon in 1968. We lost the election, but most people are with us. We are numb and dejected, but we cannot allow ourselves to despair. As Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) wrote, "This finite defeat will not end our infinite hope - in us, in America, in all her people no matter what their faith, race, or political party."

We live in a democracy. In democracies, you don't win every election, not even the big ones. That's because as certain as we are that we are right, those who disagree -- some of whom are just as intelligent, informed, and good as we are -- are certain that they are right. So we vote and we respect the result.

As far as I'm concerned, Donald Trump now gets a re-set. I'm not taking back anything I said, but I'm going to judge him on what he does going forward. I'm not going to be like those Obama-haters in whose eyes President Barack Obama could do nothing right. When I agree with Trump, I'll support him. When I disagree, I'll speak out, and I'll count on my elected representatives in Washington to speak out too.

Those who did not vote for Hillary have a special obligation to speak out. We settle our differences democratically because there is no better way to settle them, but that doesn't mean all ideas are equal. "Being stupid is an inalienable right in a representative democracy," says Jack Shafer, and many people exercised that right on Tuesday. We need to respect our differences, but we cannot paper them over in the name of unity.

I want to believe that the 60 million Americans who voted for Trump are just like us and if we could sit down and talk with them, we could mend our differences. But Trump was very clear about what he believed and who he was, and I can't understand how 60 million people could ignore that, no matter how angry they were. History teaches that good people can, en masse, do some very bad things.

Trump's victory was "based on hatred, discrimination, and division," as David Fagin wrote in his open letter to his friends who voted for Trump. That does not mean that everyone who voted for Trump is racist (although some certainly are). It does mean, as John Scalzi so perfectly and clearly spelled out, that "voting for a public racist with clear racist policies means that one is abetting racism"--and if you voted for Trump because of other things, then "you like those those other things more than you hate racism."

And if you didn't vote for Trump but instead left the ballot blank or voted for a third-party candidate? Desmond Tutu is talking about you: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

One of the mantras of the pro-Israel community is that words matter. When the Arabs (and Iran) talk about annihilating Israel, we don't dismiss it as empty rhetoric. Yet some of our friends counsel us to ignore Trump's hateful rhetoric. They compared the Iran deal to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler, but they bristled at comparisons of Trump's campaign to the campaign that brought Hitler to power. Trump is not Hitler. But he and his campaign played to many of the same fears and hatreds that previous demagogues exploited.

The Republican Jewish Coalition deserves special opprobrium. It endorsed Trump, it never condemned any of Trump's offensive remarks, and after Trump won, the RJC said that "it could not be happier with the election of Donald Trump." The RJC should be ashamed of itself, and so should its members.

If you voted for or abetted racism, you own it. And if you really think you don't belong in the basket of deplorables, then if Trump engages in deplorable behavior--and I sincerely hope he won't, but his track record indicates otherwise--prove it by speaking out.

What does Trump's victory say about America? Peter Beinart wrote that

I keep thinking about an American Muslim family, or an immigrant Latino family, huddled around their television wondering how they'll survive in Donald Trump's America. And wondering how tomorrow they will face the Americans who voted to empower this man to persecute them, their bosses, their coworkers, their customers, their clients, even perhaps, their friends and family members.

Nearly half the country voted for a candidate who ran a campaign that fed on hatred and bigotry and who is the least qualified person ever to become president. The question is why. Like Hadley Freeman, I've had enough of the white male rage narrative. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is right that they have legitimate grievances that we can and must speak to and address, but plenty of people in this country are down on their luck and somehow manage not to support racism. 

And yet I refuse to give up hope. I refuse to write off half the country. The people who voted for Trump are as sure of their objective reality as we are of ours, so we must seek common ground and shared humanity even as we vigorously advocate for our beliefs and work to elect those who share our values. There is no other way.

Let's end on some positive notes. Jewish representation in Congress will increase next year.

Jews vote like African-Americans and Hispanics because we have not forgotten what it is like to be marginalized and (more selfishly) because we know that when discrimination against any group is condoned, Jews are at risk. 

Only 25 percent of Jews voted for Trump, which was significantly less than the percentage that supported Mitt Romney in 2012.

Every member of the House and Senate who supported the Iran deal and sought re-election was re-elected. Following one's conscience and making fact-based decisions on controversial policy issues turned out to be good politics too.

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