Why I'm Grateful for Donald Trump's Presidency
This may seem like an awkward opinion from someone like me, an unabashed Trump resister. I make no secret of how I feel about him, his behavior, his character, and the tragedy of what he is doing to America. But, the truth is, the election of Trump is responsible for a lot of positive things as well. America is having conversations that needed to be had. People are coming together to support causes they otherwise may have ignored. Inequality, racism, misogyny, religious oppression, homophobia, and hate of all kinds are being exposed in a way we haven't seen in modern history. America is learning from the Trump presidency.
Before Trump was elected, I'll admit it. I was one of the white people who didn't believe racism was still that prevalent in the United States. Even though I live in rural Texas and did witness racism on occasion, I honestly thought it was phasing itself out. I didn't listen as carefully as I should have when people of color tried to tell me different. I even argued with them that it just wasn't as bad as they said and that they should be hopeful and recognize that America was on the right track.
Then Trump became a candidate. I witnessed people I have known most or all of my life feel emboldened by Trump to spew blatant racism. I saw crowds of people cheering Trump on when he would engage in unabashed hate speech. I saw the seedy underbelly of white supremacism rebranded as "Nationalist" and "Patriotic" and given a national platform. I saw white supremacy defended. I saw black men and women, Hispanic men and women, people of eastern and middle eastern descent, people of mixed race become even more afraid. His election win was a confirmation that racism was a more significant problem in America than many believed, including me. And millions of people in the United States were either racists themselves or willing to ignore racism as an issue of less importance than other issues.
But, I also saw these men and women, as well as white men and women, start to become outraged and empowered. I started seeing people having conversations about race. I started seeing people wake up to things that they were blind to, the same things I was blind to. I started seeing white people begin to listen to people of color in a new way. I started seeing white people acknowledge white privilege in a way they hadn't before. I started seeing more and more and more conversations. I started seeing more and more people standing shoulder to shoulder to fight for equality and to resist racism. I saw awareness. I gained awareness. Thanks Trump.
Me Too: Sexism, Misogyny, Sexual Harrassment, and Domestic Violence
At first, I was angry, sad, and appalled at America's support and election of a man who was so blatantly an abuser of women. His misogyny could be in a textbook. He used abuse tactics on the American people. He continues to be the king of gaslighting. He was accused of sexual harassment, sexual assault, AND domestic violence before the election. He was not charged by one woman, which would be enough to bring any politician down, but by women in the double digits. He'd paid off women to keep quiet. He openly admitted he engages in sexual assault on audio that America heard. His own words said on the campaign trail were some of the best examples of misogyny that anyone could put forward. Example after example of his sexism, misogyny, and blatant disrespect for women and their fundamental rights were laid out without shame. And then America, including women, elected him.
Much like people of color, I saw women become scared. I also saw survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence have anguished reactions to so much of America willing to believe thin denials, dismiss the claims of so many women, and embrace a man who was the face of their abusers. I was one of these women. If they weren't embracing his views on women, they were, again, willing to ignore the blatant disregard and contempt for a majority of the population and support Trump.
But then I saw the Women's March. I saw women standing up. I saw women saying "NO!" I saw the world getting behind women. I saw the MeToo movement emerge. And I finally saw (albeit too late in my opinion), the population become outraged at Trump's embracing of men who commit domestic violence. I saw powerful female voices come out of people who had never spoken out before. I saw America start to have a real conversation about misogyny. I saw men and women begin to expose gender inequality in an unprecedented way. I saw America start having essential conversations about sexual harassment, sexual assault, consent, rape and domestic violence. I saw calls for changes that were long overdue. I saw women and men both wake up to the sexism that had become a silent routine. I saw women step forward to attempt to even the playing field in American government. I saw the outrage that was needed by people who weren't at all or were silently outraged before. Thanks Trump.
The Trump Effect on religion in America is two-pronged. First, Trump has done an excellent job of exposing the hypocrisy of Evangelicals and Christian activists. Although I'd argue that their support of this candidate in the first place exposed their hypocrisy, Trump did an excellent job of making their hypocrisy so glaring that it couldn't fly under the radar of supporting the now empty conservative platform of the GOP. Once Evangelicals came out to openly dismiss and make excuses for continuing to support Trump after the allegations of his affair with a porn star, it was difficult for anyone (ANYONE) not to see the disingenuousness of Christians who didn't rebuke him. Moral failure after moral failure, many evangelicals continue to support Trump. Their credibility got lost long ago. But true Christians following their faith in the way it teaches spoke out against Trump's continued moral failures and called out the hypocrites in their own faith. Unfortunately, these seem to be a minority.
Second, Americans started to realize that "freedom of religion" for some actually means "freedom of Christians." Although anti-Muslim sentiment is not entirely new in America, Trump openly exacerbated misconceptions and hate toward the Islamic faith and Muslim-Americans. The hate, again, had a national platform. Previous leaders have made clear that Islam, in itself, is a peaceful, loving faith and the overwhelming majority of Muslims are a peaceful people who do not engage in the extremist ideas that have resulted in terrorism and human rights atrocities. Trump, on the other hand, exploited the narrative of bigots and people ill-educated about world religions and continued to fuel hate for support.
Moreover, he continued the false narrative that there was a war on Christianity. This was most notable in his campaign to save "Merry Christmas" from the non-existent protest against the saying. He, as many others have, touted this as a "freedom of religion", perpetuating the confusion of freedom of religion with freedom of Christianity. Luckily, Trump makes such a mockery of every issue, he managed to give a platform for people to more easily explain that freedom of religion is the freedom of all religions and there is no war on Christianity. Supporting a person's right to say "Happy Holidays" to people of all religions who have a December holiday isn't taking away from anyone who wants to say "Merry Christmas" to people of the Christian faith any more than saying "Happy Hanukkah" to people of the Jewish faith is. The assertion has always been ludicrous and overplayed.
More importantly, people who fight to get Christianity out of government are not touting hate for Christianity, they're supporting freedom of religion and separation of church and state. The assertions that America is a Christian nation is in direct contrast with the founding father's intent to keep Americans free from having a religion forced upon them by the State. This doesn't mean that anyone is anti-Christian. It doesn't even mean that anyone doesn't acknowledge that America is majority Christian. It simply acknowledges that religion and government are separate and Americans have the right to practice any religion (or no religion) they please without being denigrated by their leaders. This includes Islam. And with Trump, people are getting their chance to explain.
And let's not forget to mention the contribution of Pence to bring forth how ridiculous, antiquated, and inhumane the fringe Christian community view the LGBT community. Along with women, people of color, and non-Christians, the LGBT community has faced attack after attack from the Trump administration. They experienced the same fear. They feared the same reversal of progress. And America witnessed the same rubber band effect. And the LGBT community is angry, empowered, speaking out, and educating. Thanks Trump and an honorable mention to Pence!
Do you believe that a third party is needed in America?
The Two Party System Problem
Finally, Thank you Trump for showing America how much of a problem the reliance on a two-party system really is. People who couldn't vote for Clinton and couldn't vote for Trump were left with rage over how the system has been gamed to only include two parties. LIbertarians got a record amount of publicity and a record number of votes. It wasn't enough, but the election of Trump and the disaster of his Presidency thus far has only given Third Party's more of a voice and more traction. The division between Democrats and Republicans has served to highlight the need for a sensible option in the middle. The two-party system is failing. The Republican Party is destructing in front of America's eyes. The Democratic Party is being demonized. The two-party system that America has hung on to for too long is dying a Trumpian death. Thank you Trump.