The New Abnormal

As the Donald Trump era dawns, the fight for America gets real

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Nigel Hood

American Underpants | by Anna Minard

Months and months ago, as friends were joking about how nice it would be to fall into a coma until the election or to time-travel forward to the day after it, I remember making a comment that was seen then as a little too dark. I said yes, if I could know for sure that Hillary Clinton was going to win, then I would love nothing more than to grab the cosmic remote and fast-forward myself to November 9, given how exhausting and painful the campaign was on all sides. But since I couldn’t know that, and on the off chance that Donald Trump won the election — a statement at the time regarded as wildly, unreasonably pessimistic — I did not want to magically fast-forward time. Because if Trump were elected, then I’d regret not having been able to savor those last few months for the idyllic time they would turn out to be.

Did I savor them enough? Not nearly.

Canada, we’re not our best selves right now. The churning maelstrom of pain that is the American left is split into grief-stricken factions — and I don’t just mean “Bernie would have won” versus “abolish the Electoral College” versus “let’s just blame young people and people of color because that’s always such a good look”. I mean more like, “too angry to sleep or eat” versus “too sad to be awake”, or “self-righteous and defensive” versus “trying to plan for the apocalypse”. And it turns out you can cycle through all those camps in a single day!

The right seems mostly baffled — why are their relatives and coworkers so distraught? Why are kids walking out of schools in protest? What are all these Facebook diatribes about? Didn’t we just do democracy like always, and aren’t we supposed to move on now?

We’re not moving on, because some very, very scary people are moving in to the White House. It’s been proven that public statements of bigotry, advocacy of war crimes, a professional history of racist and unethical business practices, and a personal history of, at the very least, bragging about one’s compulsion to sexually assault women do not preclude a man from winning the American presidency. Did conservative voters think that would be the end of it?

We need you, Canada. First, we need you to take care of your own country and government. This is a 100-decibel reminder to stay vigilant, to stay engaged, to protect and fight for your values. And second, even though people down here are on digital-unfriending sprees, this is no time to disconnect from people whose politics confuse or dismay you. It’s obvious that huge swaths of the country weren’t talking to each other at all, were experiencing different realities and knew completely different things to be the Truth. That doesn’t work. We’ve got to find a way to merge those worlds into one as much as possible, so that we are all operating in the same reality. Not because it would be so cute to all hold hands and be friends but because two alternate-reality, opposing countries can’t occupy the same space — and if we don’t fix this we’re going to kill ourselves and everyone around us fighting it out.

This is not a drill. This is not business as usual. In my last column, before we knew the outcome, I said if Trump won and things turned really ugly, you should know “there were a lot of people down here who spent the last year working extremely hard to not let The Bad Thing happen, and they’re not about to stop now.” We are not stopping now. We are marching in the streets. We are lighting up congressional phone lines opposing bad cabinet appointments. Well-meaning white liberals are learning in a swift and fundamental way what it feels like to stop believing that institutions are there to protect you and the world is safe, like someone yanked off our white privilege fleece and we just found out it was winter.

That awakening, late as it is, could be one of the most useful things to come out of all this — but only if we can survive to use that knowledge in the future.

Any way you can help us do that, Canada, is much appreciated.

American Underpants was kinda like a political drama TV mini-series but non-fiction and in Prairie Dog. It will return when you least expect it. Until then, follow @minardanna on Twitter. She’s swell!