Catharsis

Catharsis

On Tuesday, November 9, 2016 America elected to its highest office a man who has systematically and consistently purveyed hate and discrimination in bigoted and addle-minded political rhetoric. We’ve elected a candidate who has vowed to disregard the Constitution in favor of policy aimed at restricting the rights and due process of people representing all religions and ethnic backgrounds. No less, we’ve elected a man dedicated to reversing the progress made in the past eight years, refusing to acknowledge the immense responsibilities that come with leading a nation as diverse as ours.

This election, more than any preceding, has engrained in the political culture of our country a disregard for truth, for fact, and for honesty. Americans have proven unequivocally and unconditionally that honor and morality are not requirements for our leaders, that a sense of duty beyond all personal motivations is not important nor relevant. Time and time again, we’ve listened to our next president belittle and denigrate not only those public figures who he so openly disagrees with, but innocent people, private citizens, and even children. We’ve listened to this man completely, flat-out, emphatically lie on national television. We’re used to the idea that ambitious politicians stretch the truth (Hillary Clinton does this frequently), and we’re used to misrepresentations and miscalculations; we’re not used to hearing deliberately created and frankly ridiculous fiction from our country’s leaders. This shift happened quickly, and it happened during this election cycle. We’ve made a calculated decision to refrain from caring about candor and eloquence. We’ve made a calculated decision to disregard those who try to inform us.

In the next four years, we can expect an institutional reversal of the progress we’ve made in the past eight. Mike Pence has promised to, while Vice President, eviscerate LGBT protections (he once called LGBT Americans a “discrete and insular minority) and help in selecting a Supreme Court nominee who will reverse Roe v. Wade and allow for discrimination on the basis of religion. When the Supreme Court last year upheld the majority of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, Pence likened the ruling to the September 11 attacks, so we can surely expect families with children requiring extensive medical care, like those suffering from cancer or heart irregularities, to lose coverage–a key facet of the ACA prevents plans from annual or lifetime limits on health care costs. Both Trump and Pence have repeatedly said that a cardinal goal of their administration would be to repeal and replace the ACA, leaving insurance companies with the ability to deny patients due to preexisting conditions and leaving millions again without health insurance.

Any and all climate change provisions passed in the past eight years can also expect to be reversed. Earlier this year, President Obama announced the US and China would both sign on to the Paris Agreement that, with the support of 193 other countries across the globe, sets goals for reducing emissions and preventing further climate change. China’s ratification of this agreement is unprecedented as the country has consistently been one of the world’s leaders, along with the US, in emissions. A Donald Trump White House will surely end the United States’ involvement and partnership with China, as Trump has mentioned he believes climate change is a Chinese hoax. Other countries not participating in the agreement? Just four: Iraq, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Nicaragua.

Regardless of the social and political implications of a Trump presidency, there is no greater responsibility than being in a position to help citizens of your country. We’ve now placed that responsibility in the hands of a man who has verbally assaulted women, minorities, and war veterans, who has admitted to evading federal taxes (and who then tried to justify this by claiming to have an intellect superior enough to bypass federal law), and who has run a campaign focused on energizing a growing alt-right minority. We’ve placed this responsibility in the hands of a man with no political experience, and we’ve watched the Republican Party embrace that characteristic after attacking Barack Obama, a former Senator of a major state and constitutional law professor, for the same thing just eight years prior. We’ve seen hate, we’ve seen indifference, and we’ve seen ignorance. We can only hope we won’t see more than four years of a Trump administration, because we will suffer greatly from it.