Dissidents. I’m guessing I became one today. The wheels, at least, are in motion. I haven’t changed, but the country has changed around me. Apparently, it’s now considered acceptable for the president to mock the disabled; or spy on non-Christian citizens; or ignore the constitution; or threaten to jail those who oppose him.
Today, I woke up to an expected shock. Donald Trump is our president-elect. A week ago, I realized that this was the likely outcome of the election. How many people were planned on voting for Trump, but were embarrassed to admit it? Seemingly, a lot. I wouldn’t admit it, but I wouldn’t vote for him, either.
Still, I feel betrayed by America. I feel like a guy who woke up today and learned from his wife that she never loved him. Or like I got a call from the hospital telling me that my baby was switched at birth… 15 years ago. Or like I walked into work to hear that I sucked at my job.
I honestly believed our citizens cared about each other and not just themselves. I believed that we saw beyond skin color and religious preference. I believed that a person would be weighed on their individual merits, and not the actions of someone who looks like them. Based on our selection of leaders, I no longer believe this.
I have a bumper-sticker on my truck that says “Dissent is Patriotic.” Our country was forged by dissidents. Many (most?) important changes came from the actions of those who were willing to say the status quo is whacked. Suffrage, civil rights, war protests.
Now we have a president elect who has spoken about a litmus test for Americanism. Do your beliefs match those of our establishment? If not, hit the road. Everyone is pissed off at athletes with the gall to kneel during the National Anthem. Love it or leave it, they say.
People are offended when they’re told that #blacklivesmatter. All lives matter, they say. Of course all lives matter, but all of us aren’t getting shot during routine interactions with police.
For the past year, I have sat, somewhat quietly, while people monger fear. Illegal Mexicans are stealing our jobs! The government wants to take away your guns! Hillary Clinton kills her employees! The Muslims want us dead!
Now we’ve got Donald Trump. He’s exactly what we deserve. He’s not going to bring back middle-class jobs by jump-starting the manufacturing sector. He’s not going to bring back the single-earner families of the fifties—he’s the only one with that luxury. He’s going to start World War III with a late-night tweet about one of his world-leader peers. He’s going to fuel a revolution by pushing laws that oppress citizens who don’t think like him.
Yes, dissent is patriotic, but dissidents are rarely treated as patriots. These days, if you aren’t down with authority, you’re on the run.