Like many right now, I’m in shock.
Not because I didn’t see this coming, because I did. Close to a year ago at a family Christmas gathering, my husband and I both called it. Everyone poo-pooed our extreme prediction, but I can honestly say there was just something about it that rung true.
So no, I’m not shocked that Trump is now President of the United States. What shocks me is how many people I’ve heard who write off his racist rhetoric, his misogyny, his xenophobia, his blatant sexism and outright denial of basic facts. Denial of things he has said in the past that there is public record of.
There’s a song that I’ve been playing on repeat since the lead up to the election, because to me, it represents the heart of what so many people I know are feeling right now. And the words were written as though they are what Obama is really thinking, despite the brave face he continues to put on. This American Life commissioned Sara Bareilles to write it, and she chose Lee Odom Jr., one of the performers from Hamilton, to sing it.
The music is haunting. It’s complex, just like the message is. After probably more than 100 listens, it still gives me goosebumps. Lee Odom Jr. is the voice of Obama in a way that no one else could be. It’s what we all need to hear, right now.
Let’s start with hope
I threw it in the middle like a skipping stone
The ripples won, son of a gun
Some would not have thought so
But I stand here, Commander in Chief
And I take that seriously.
Remember when Obama had the audacity to inspire hope, not just in one nation, but the world? I know so many people who voted for him with hope in their hearts. It was monumental, seeing him get sworn in. We all thought that real change was finally coming.
But along the way
A rogue ripple turned tidal wave
In reaction to what I tried to do
A rebirth of a nation’s hatred
Red, white, and blue.
Is black in there too?
Don’t tell me that there isn’t a disturbing race problem, right now. Don’t tell me that All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter. Of course they do. Every fucking life matters, people, but that’s not the point. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone compared this way of thinking to responding with “All cancers matter!” or, “Breast cancer matters!” when someone was trying to raise awareness for, say, prostate cancer. It makes no sense.
The pure, unbridled hatred that surfaced during this election campaign, and since Trump was elected, has horrified me. And I’m not even a visible minority. Suddenly, it’s ok to hate openly again. Hoist up the confederate flags, use despicable words to refer to people you’re essentially just afraid of.
One man rewriting the book on bad behaviour
Maybe cheats the neighbours
Feels he gets what they pay for
We can’t pat him on the back and send him on through
No man’s ignorance will ever be his virtue
Is this the best we can do?
I don’t understand how it’s possible to reward someone, with a presidency, who doesn’t pay the people who have worked hard for him. Who doesn’t pay taxes, and is applauded for working to subvert the system, when he’s still using the crumbling infrastructure that he’s avoided paying into for nearly a decade.
How can anyone call Hillary crooked, when the next president is as crooked as they come? Also: am I going to be sued, or blacklisted, for writing this?
Let’s talk of fear and why I don’t bring it in here
It’s a dangerous word, it spooks the herd
And we all bleed in the stampede
Fear makes a false friend indeed
And I take it seriously.
Muslims are not America’s “problem.” White, privileged assholes are America’s problem. The ones who think that because the next president grabbed a woman by the genitals and bragged about it, it’s ok for them to do it now, too.
A country that has become paralyzed with fear, instead of catalyzed by it; this is the country that elected Trump. And now, as Bareilles so aptly put it, that fear spooked the herd, and the stampede that is taking place is killing innocent people of colour and causing muslim women to fear showing their faith openly by wearing their hijabs. Seriously?
The circling of the wagons that Trump’s supporters have been doing, accusing illegal immigrants of stealing good jobs, or not working hard enough, or whatever reason it is today. Blame, and more blame. But don’t go showing facts or statistics, because those are made up. When did the average American become a conspiracy theorist?
So hear me now before the truth gets drowned out
By a demagogue flexing
A demagogue flexing
He’s history repeating.
You’ve heard the comparisons. You’ve likely seen the video about Hitler’s rise to power, too. I’m not here to tell you he is the next Hitler, because he’s not. He’s Donald Trump. But Trump’s character, when compared to Obama’s, makes me shudder. And I say that as a Jewish woman who lost most of one side of her family in the concentration camps, during WWII.
Am I angry?
You ask am I angry?
And I’m at a loss for words.
The last few years have seen Obama looking sad, frustrated, and angry during all the news conferences he’s had to hold for whichever shooting has happened most recently. His hands were tied, by Congress, by the Senate, by every single Republican who decided to prevent him and his administration from being able to implement any lasting and important positive changes in the country that he initially set out to do.
After all we’ve done
Every battle hard won
Every hair gone gray
In the name of this place
In a history plagued
With incredible mistakes
Still I pledge my allegiance to these United divided States
The crux of it. It’s strange to feel so strongly about a song that isn’t even about your own country, but Obama personifies class, to me. I know he wasn’t perfect, and I certainly don’t know everything about his presidency, from this side of the border, but it seems like he tried really hard to follow through on his promises, especially in these last few weeks. He knows his country is still mighty messed up, just as so many of my American friends know this, but all of you are willing to keep fighting the good fight.
So many of you, so many of us around the world, really, are heartbroken. Filled with despair. Angry, hurt, confused. But I have watched as countless numbers took a deep breath, squared their shoulders, and got back to work in the trenches with new resolve.
This is not changing your resolve, it’s strengthening it. You are preparing to fight harder for what you love. You’re becoming better allies to those who have the most to fear and the most to lose in the next 4 years. You see your future in the children you are raising, and you’re fighting hard for them to grow up in a world that isn’t filled with hate.
I am with you.
Let’s end with “why?”
It’s a question I
Want to ask of us as a populace
Why not take our time or the weight of this story