Dismantling the GOP that made Trump possible

Photo by Mitchell Haindfield on Flickr

Photo by Mitchell Haindfield on Flickr

I am trying to gather my thoughts.

This happened today at the University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater:

“Penn students and staff are in an uproar after black freshmen students were added to a GroupMe group titled ‘Nigger Lynching.’”

(Read the full story.)

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, my friend was having a heated but civil political discussion in a Facebook group tied to her son’s school when the self-declared Republican in the group wrote the following:

“I hope you knock on my door, I will answer with gunpowder and lead.”

I work at a very progressive company full of emotionally intelligent people. We have started nearly every meeting for the past few days by talking about how we’re feeling (which is amazing and also, I realize, makes us an elite, liberal stereotype). Our internal communication channels are lit up with ideas about constructive courses of action that center around listening to those who voted for Trump and trying to build bridges of understanding.

We hustle between meetings, we exchange comforting words, and meanwhile, this hateful shit like what I’ve outlined above is happening.

It is fucking surreal.

We talk a lot at my company about “context shifting” — changing gears on a dime from thinking about one thing to thinking about something else. We usually talk about it in terms of “Wow, she’s working on five projects right now, that’s a lot of context shifting.”

(I know, more elite, liberal speak. Enlightened and privileged, at the same time.)

Today I had to go into a meeting to talk about marketing concepts two minutes after I read the headline about Penn. I went to the bathroom first to try to shift gears.

Tonight I’m going to a dear friend’s 40th birthday dinner. Who will be harassed or injured while I raise a margarita in her honor?

We can’t cocoon. We need to take action. My friend, the brilliant strategist Alison Byrne Fields, offers a number of smart suggestions (I disagree with her position on the idea of leaving the U.S. in this moment, which I consider a legitimate consideration, particularly as the parent of a young child — I wrote about that earlier this week). But what no one has put forth (that I’ve seen, and PLEASE, tell me I’m wrong), and what to me is central to all of this, is how to dismantle the GOP machinery that cynically, methodically, and with billions of dollars of support, brought us to the place. Frank Rich wrote about it on Tuesday:

“The Republican Party owns this. It has cynically exploited the backlash to the civil-rights and feminist movements for more than half a century. The kindling was there to be lit, and so it was once a black man ascended to the White House. Trump is nothing if not the unabashed apotheosis of the nihilistic Party of No, and Palin, and birtherism, and ‘You lie!’”

So yes, let’s listen to each other, let’s get outside of our bubbles, but… that doesn’t address the whole problem. And, in this moment, I’m not sure if dismantling the GOP machinery and undoing the damage its done is possible. I’m honestly just not sure. We can fund all the progressive organizations we believe in, we can hold listening salons… but are we shouting into the wind?

I am not suggesting we give up. I am not suggesting we do nothing. But I am saying, all action isn’t created equal. I know many of us feel a deep need to take action in this moment and small acts add up to big ones — I get that. But please, let’s focus on tackling the true cancer at the heart of all this ugliness. How can we begin?

+ + +

Meanwhile, our president elect is still a madman — last night, he posted this:

This morning, “he” (someone on his staff) posted this:

Even more bizarre than this erratic change of position, or maybe equally bizarre, is that a friend of mine says she recently re-read all the tweets in Trump’s timeline and this one is a copy-and-paste of a message he posted back in 2012.

Either way, it’s erratic and a sign of his terrifying (now that he is in a position of power) unpredictability.

A journalist on Twitter shared an image of these two tweets side by side, and said, “The president-elect issues a correction” — except, no, this wasn’t a correction. Issuing a correction is an act of integrity predicated on admitting you made a mistake. That is most decidedly NOT what happened.

How do we defeat the cynical and outrageously wealthy system that made the election of this madman possible?

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