Last night, in the midst of a liberal social media meltdown over Donald Trump's increasing likelihood of winning the presidency, actor George Takei launched a rallying cry. "We must stand up defiantly to any dark or divisive acts, and look out for the most vulnerable among us. It is more important than ever," he wrote.
He's right. Sort of.
This is Donald Trump's America now. Rather, it has been Trump's country for some time, even if few people wanted to admit it — including many Trump supporters themselves, at least at the polls. Clinton won the popular vote, but only narrowly. That means nearly half the nation rallied around a candidate who launched his campaign calling Mexicans rapists, who spouted graphic lies about abortion in a nationally televised debate, and who dismissed a woman who questioned him by implying she was just on the rag that day.
In the year and a half since Trump announced his candidacy, he has brought out the worst in our country. Attracted by Trump's xenophobic policies, such as banning Muslim immigrants, supporters at his rallies shouted racial slurs. Emboldened by Trump's unapologetically sexist views, they promised to "Trump that bitch" even after he was caught on tape bragging about sexual assault. Encouraged by Trump, they attacked peaceful protesters and advocated for killing journalists.
Trump's divisive ideologies were especially harmful in Miami, a city housing more than 150,000 undocumented immigrants – many of them, as Trump famously assumed, good people. Trump's cruel comments about the weight of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado added another layer to the anxiety many South Florida women feel about their bodies. And his "grab 'em by the pussy" line was especially poorly timed for voters in Florida, where the rate of reported rapes is on the rise. It's no wonder 63 percent of voters chose Hillary Clinton in Miami-Dade.
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Especially in a place like South Florida, which largely rejected Trump and his divisive ideas, the idea of fighting for the place you love is a noble one. Leaving is giving up, the thinking goes; we all have a responsibility to make the country a better place. Besides, every election year, some people threaten to leave the U.S. if the candidate of their choice isn't elected. These people are usually dismissed as dramatic at best, unpatriotic at worst. If you really loved America, after all, why would you leave it?
But this year is different. Trump's ideology puts many groups of people at risk of real, physical danger. Muslims who've watched Trump paint them as terrorists to the rest of the world now have to walk the streets knowing half of their neighbors would feel more comfortable sending them to Guantánamo. For black Americans, last night's election confirms what they already knew, that their lives matter less. Women have to exist knowing that half the country will look the other way when they are raped. Trans people face violent hate crimes. Prejudice has killed too many this year; when these circumstances exist in a climate of diminishing gun control, even more people will die.
The choice Americans face now is no longer about politics. It's about survival. Maybe you're not afraid, at least not for yourself. Maybe you're privileged to enjoy the time and resources to fight this disastrous turn. Maybe you simply don't have the money or ability to leave. If so, then by all means, fulfill your duty to your community and your country, and fight to right the wrongs of this election.
But if you and your family are under attack, if you worry for your safety or the safety of your loved ones, if you fear your neighbors and your police officers and your doctors and your elected officials, if you have the ability and the inclination to run, don't hesitate. This country has abused you beyond all logic. You may love America with all your heart, but America does not love you back. Your life matters. Save yourself.