Editor-in-Chief, Greg Gerding, weighs in on the 2016 presidential election results while looking back on the one-year anniversary of The Big Smoke America. Oh, what a year it’s been.
Exactly one year ago today, November 9th, 2015, we launched this website The Big Smoke America. The goal was to build upon the success of The Big Smoke Australia that launched two years before that in 2013 and has emerged as one of the top Op-Ed websites in Australia. We continue to grow and produce solid work every day.
Following last night’s election results, I am at a loss as to exactly what I want to say here. On June 16th, 2015, Trump formally announced his candidacy and, as I prepared to launch TBS America leading up to November of last year, I was hyperaware of exactly what kind of overall, nationwide atmosphere we were beginning amid.
As Editor-in-Chief of The Big Smoke America and a dad, I have remained focused on one goal: advocating a better place for the future of our children. As a leader of the free world, it baffles me that America does not lead in every important category there is: healthcare, equality, education, literacy, peace, climate protection. Instead, we lead in the categories of ignorance, incarceration, gender and racial inequality, and plastic surgery.
What I have been fed by is the amount of work that people are doing in an effort to move our country forward. Our publication aims to be balanced and fair, while focused on activism in our communities seeking ways to be better and benefit all.
No one who voted for Hillary was deluded into thinking that a Clinton win meant that the work was done. Quite the contrary, and as was proven by the widespread support for Bernie Sanders and his platform, the upset and discontent was the one thing that we could all agree on, the one thing that was truly bipartisan.
My concern, though, is that electing Trump means that the work is done for everyone who voted for him. That all the promises Trump made that he, and only he, can fix what’s wrong means that their work is done. He is all that is needed. He will course-correct everything.
Build a border wall? Done. No more Mexicans in. Expel all illegal immigrants? Done. They’re gone. I’ll just wave my hand. Bring all the overseas jobs back? Absolutely. They will all be back. Keep all the terrorists out? Of course. I’ll use a nuke too, just to remind everyone that we have them. All problems solved.
I shudder to think about every crisis that Obama faced during his presidency and how Trump will react to similar events; watch him take the dais and be a calming force. And also imagine every Michelle Obama appearance and replace that with Melania. And imagine what the world is thinking of us right now?
Mike Pence appeared as shocked as anyone to be standing on that stage with Trump last night. He seemed to be wondering, How did we actually do this? The same running mate who couldn’t conjure a single defense of Trump during his vice presidential debate with Tim Kaine, couldn’t summon any words resembling genuine support.
And who else was on that stage last night? Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Kellyanne Conway, everyone associated with Breitbart, and Omarosa. Omarosa? Seriously? Take a look at all of them, they’ve all secured positions within Trump’s presidency. We will be hearing from all of them.
We have voted a reality TV star to the world’s top, most coveted position. The most divisive candidate in our history without peer.
During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Omarosa announced that she had been named the Director of African-American Outreach for Trump’s presidential campaign. On Frontline, Omarosa said, “… every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.” Trump has never been known for his kindness towards his detractors. What has played out in the media will now focus on a presidency grounded in sensationalism.
I held out hope that following the election results I would not have to publish another article about Trump again. Instead, I am digging in and preparing for all of the work that now lies before us. There is so much work to be done. I was looking forward to keeping Hillary honest and on the proper path as balanced by Sanders’ run. Imagine all the work ahead with Trump as President and supported by both a Republican House and Senate?
I am not in a celebratory mood, but I do want to mark this occasion and acknowledge all the solid work from all of our talented contributors here at The Big Smoke America.
Just within that first week of launching, we published so many important essays and articles and laid the groundwork for more of what’s to come; it also foreshadowed a lot:
John S. Blake “All in the Wrapping: What It Honestly Takes for Social Change in America”
“White America doesn’t care about the struggles of poor people of color. We, as a nation, need to admit this before any social change can happen. Before I can be asked to soften to a puddle of sympathy for a wealthy white woman who crossed the tracks for a walk on the lower east side and died, someone has to name every one of the thousands of neighbors, kin, and random children who lost their lives because this country didn’t care enough to shed a tear.”
Sean Davis “The Debate on Debates”
“This year, fifteen minutes into the third official Republican debate the pale and doughy faced junior Senator from Texas and Canadian-born U.S. presidential hopeful had run out of patience with the questions from the three moderators. Instead of answering a focused and topical question on the U.S. debt limit, he took his opportunity to chide the moderators, ‘The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.’ He was on a roll, so he kept going, ‘This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions—“Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?” “Ben Carson, can you do math?” “John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?” “Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?” “Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?” How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?’ … ‘I asked you about the debt limit and I got no answer,’ moderator Carl Quintanilla said.”
Jason Arment “Veteran: Disabled Type”
“None of this is real to the average American. … So it’s not counterintuitive that people in the United States have no problem disbelieving a federally-assigned disability rating because a veteran can walk or run, operate machinery, or maybe even watch their kids at a ballgame. People need blood. They don’t want to hear about insomnia, night terrors, bulging discs, ringing ears, flashbacks, or discombobulated minds. People have selfies to take, have never had to question whether or not they’ve participated in genocide, and really love sports—a lot. And drinking.”
Chris Margolin “The Path to Classroom Management Doesn’t Come by Way of the Bullet”
“I work in a rural school district seeping with low-income households, low levels of diversity, and even lower scores on standardized tests. Poverty is a leading factor in behavior issues. Students who are house-insecure, or food-insecure, or clothing-insecure, are not typically going to be your standout students—at least not in a positive manner—unless you find a way to positively engage with them and reassure them that they are in a safe environment, where no one is pointing a metaphorical gun at their head. If students live within a struggling environment, school should be their sanctuary.”
Sarah Xerta “Gaslighting 101: Untangling the Knots of Pyschological Abuse”
“To give structure to the unknown is to make it known, and to know something is to lessen its power over you. And that’s what gaslighting, like any form of abuse, is ultimately about: power. And not just any power but a specific kind of power that asserts itself by making others powerless. When this happens in a personal relationship, we call it abuse. When this happens on a societal level, we call it oppression. Gaslighting is a form of abuse that is happening on both personal and universal levels, and it’s making people sick.”
Alisdair Blackman, Alexandra Tselios, and Roger Pugh “PollieWatch Podcast: The Fight for the Heart of the Republican Party”
Pugh: “Let’s remember that the popularity of Trump and Carson is due to the fact that the voters do not like the political establishment. And the political establishment [during these primaries] is the Republican Party.”
Tselios: “[Regarding the anti-Wall Street sentiments] I think it’s absolutely a tactic and an opportunity to make Americans feel a little bit more comfortable with a conservative Republican leader and I think that Trump even calling them [the bankers] ‘dummies’ was another way of doing that, it makes people feel a little bit more comfortable after the past ten years of American economics. When we’re looking at the way banks are perceived, and bankers and Wall Street are perceived in the U.S. at the moment, I think that any sort of separation is going to be looked on favorably.”
Jeff Reese “ ‘Fat, Drunk, and Stupid Is No Way to Go Through Life, Son’: Reflections on the American electorate by a Socialist stuck in a swing state.”
“ ‘Scapegoating’ is one of the most effective political tools in the arsenal of those who would exploit an electorate for personal gain. It’s not the broken education system, healthcare system, or lack of an effective social safety net that is making you feel insecure about your future, instead it’s ‘those people that’re new here’ and ‘haven’t you noticed it went south when they came north?’ The simplicity of that is quite appealing to people who don’t have the desire to probe further. It creates some pretty amazing cognitive dissonance at times. … I try to approach my interactions with people who hold these general views from a place of empathy.”
Travis Laurence Naught “Historically Bound: From One Escape Artist to over 19 Million”
“So many who take flight are penniless. There is no way to bring any sort of valuable possessions from where they left. Imagine the family histories that have been erased.”
John S. Blake “We Are Our Own Too-Forgiving Gods: Humanity Is a Body, and the Body Hurts All Over.”
“For white people; you who look like my own mother, angry about another protest—consider compassion. We share one body. Understand that black bodies have been getting murdered by police before the first jail was built and officers were called overseers. I know many of you think the work is done, but you’re wrong. Equality means balance, and righting wrongs you had no part in feels unfair, I know, but that doesn’t change the fact that the wrongs must still be corrected. Let’s get the work done.”
Sean Davis “A Combat Veteran’s View: French Bombing of Syria Is Wrong”
“Listen, I get it. I really do. More than most. My anger and need for revenge changed my life in ways I’m still trying to understand. Be outraged and angry. This is not only expected, it’s a natural response, but understand the violence will take a great toll. If we commit to the heavy, human cost of war, it needs to be carefully thought-out. If it isn’t, we can find ourselves continuing an endless war, spending the sweat of our laborers, the genius of our scientists, and the hopes of our children.”
For all our children and their future, we must continue doing the good, hard work.