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To Hell with Unity

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By Josh Inocéncio

Eight years ago, shortly after Americans overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama as the next president, Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged that Republicans’ foremost goal would be to ensure that Mr. Obama was a one-term president. And while McConnell and his cronies failed dreadfully in that endeavor, they sure have obstructed the president effectively for two terms.

And now, in the wake of President-Elect Donald J. Trump, the same people who have for years vocalized defiance toward Obama are now calling for us to “come together” as Americans and “unify” around the incoming president.

To that I say, “To hell with your unity.”

But I’m not interested in vengeance for the last eight years (although it will taste pretty sweet when Trump fails to secure the necessary nine Senate Democrats to approve any right-wing choices for the Supreme Court). I’m more invested in opposition to a man that has, for over a year on the campaign trail, denigrated people of color, treated women like trash, pledged to fight against equality for LGBTQ people, threatened to register Muslims, and mocked the disabled. Especially given that Mr. Trump’s former opponent, Hillary Clinton, has won the popular vote by a larger margin than even Al Gore in 2000. The majority of this nation rejected Trump and his bigotry, which will only carry our collective roar for the ensuing four years.

But as we plummet into Trump’s America over the next few months, I encourage those who didn’t vote for Trump to oppose him. We can support the peaceful transition of power, yes. And we will have to get used to saying that he is “our president” (the chant should be, “Not My America” rather than “Not My President”). But we don’t have to accept the enshrined discrimination that arrives with Trump’s electoral success.

Let me be clear: I cannot forget nor forgive the hatred that Trump popularized and validated over the last year. We’re looking at a man who only belatedly and reluctantly distanced himself from David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacist groups. What’s done is done and an apology is worthless. I’m not approaching Trump with an “open mind” (sorry, Hillary). He has already stirred the dregs of America into mainstream discourse. We’ve seen at least one hate crime against a gay man and tons of hate speech toward Muslims, blacks, and undocumented immigrants in just a few days. My opposition to Trump isn’t about me being a sore loser, because this isn’t about Hillary Clinton. This is about the safety of millions of Americans who now find themselves in a more violent America ever since Wednesday morning.

So, yes, I will protest the arrival of Mr. Trump. My only healthcare option and my rights as a gay American are on the line (and the United States was already a hostile place for queer people). The pervasive fear that many others and me feel is the new reality for the next four years. There is no “unless,” there is no “but”—this moment in history demands that we get loud, get rowdy, that we mobilize and organize against our bullish president-elect and the values he embraces.

This is why I reject “coming together” with all Americans; I reject the America for which they voted. There are Trump voters out there who opposed his bigotry, and while I can’t comprehend that they put his sexual predation and nationalist hysteria comments aside in favor of a populist blow to Washington, I encourage them to call out Trump’s continued discrimination toward minorities. There are third-party voters who believe in an inclusive America, and while I didn’t agree with their voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, I want to work with them. Many of us share a progressive vision for America and we need to cultivate that together.

And we’re off to a fantastic start with protests erupting in Texas, New York, California, Washington, and other states. My only hope is that we sustain this energy. We have much to organize around already, such as Standing Rock, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, a renewed Glass-Steagall, to name a few. Don’t let this energetic wave die as our reaction and shock to Trump’s win subsides.

And while I still refuse to compare Mr. Trump to Adolf Hitler (and I say that as the grandson of a woman who endured Hitler’s Austria), I do recognize that his victory—riding not only on discriminatory rhetoric by silencing and suing the press—is how fascism creeps into nations. We’re witnessing this with right-wing movements in Europe and we’ve already watched this unfold with far leftist governments in South America. Any student of history will discern the anti-democratic perils that could continue to grow under a Trump presidency.

The most dangerous thing we can do is normalize Trump as a regular president-elect. I’ll fight that every step of the way, as much as I can with the little power I have in this blue haven of Houston.

To echo Charles M. Blow, consider me part of The Resistance.

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Josh Inocéncio

Josh Inocéncio is a frequent contributor to OutSmart Magazine, a playwright, and a freelance writer. A Houston-area native, he earned a master’s degree in theatre studies at Florida State University and produced his first play, Purple Eyes, before returning to Texas last May.

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