More reckoning needed all around

Dear President Trump,

There was a sobering analysis in the WP today by Musa al-Gharbi, a Fellow in the Sociology Department at Columbia. He argues persuasively that the Democrats’ gains in the House on Tuesday are not really anything special – the number of seats that flipped from Republican to Democrat is what one would have expected from the trends over time. His take isn’t novel, but he did quite a good job laying it all out, calling out the many open seats that should have been easy gets for the Democrats that Republicans ended up winning and the large number of very tight races. It’s a depressing article. The end is especially hard to bear as he notes that the historical trends give you 8 to 1 odds of winning a second term. When I read that I wanted to scream. If you can be a total racist, xenophobic, sexist, idiotic asshole and hold onto power it’s beyond disturbing. And frightening.

Don’t get me wrong. The Democrats winning enough seats to form a majority in the House is critically important and should serve as a check on you. Clearly things would be infinitely grimmer had you somehow been able to buck the historical trends and hold onto both the House and the Senate. Had that happened it would have been valid for you to claim absolute victory and take it as a sign that the country is a-okay with the direction you’re taking us. Fortunately that didn’t happen and you have to face the fact that millions of us are deeply unhappy with your presidency and the GOP and you must contend with a split Congress.

I pointed out yesterday that people in rural communities need to move past false hope and fake fears so they can reckon with the real reasons their numbers are dwindling. Similarly, I think liberals have to resist the temptation to focus too much on gerrymandering and voter suppression to explain the red wall that thwarted the blue wave. Those issues do need to be addressed, but we also have to reckon with the reality that there are an awful lot of people who support you and that you are able to mobilize them. It’s mindboggling and heart rending to sit with this, but it’s real and we can’t address what’s wrong if we don’t accept reality and work hard to understand and change it.

May we be safe from wishful thinking.
May we be willing to face what needs to be faced, learn what needs to be learned.
May we be healthy and strong enough to deal with the reality that there’s not an easy way out of this.
May we find ways to make peace without compromising our morals and our integrity.

Tracy Simpson

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