After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, comedian Patton Oswalt wrote a thoughtful, inspiring post on his Facebook page about the inherent goodness of humanity. It concludes:
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
In moments of crisis, after Paris, and San Bernardino, and Orlando, and too many more, I’ve thought of these words. “The good outnumber you, and we always will.” It’s a reassuring sentiment: for every lunatic with a gun or a bomb, there are many more who push back against the madness.
Or so I thought.
Last night, sixty million Americans voted to elect a racist, misogynistic, unstable demagogue. Sixty million people decided to hand the reins of power to a man who asks why we don’t use nuclear weapons, who has been accused of sexual harassment or assault by over a dozen women and bragged about it, who proudly and openly discriminates based on religion and national origin, and on and on and on.
You don’t need me to tell you what’s wrong with Donald Trump. And you certainly don’t need my panicked liberal hand-wringing over the catastrophic consequences of his election — the devastating impact that his policies, if enacted, will have on anyone who isn’t a rich, straight white man. Either you’ve considered the effects Trump will have on America and come to a rational conclusion or you haven’t. The result won’t change.
What you do need to do is question what will happen to this country’s soul, and what we can do about it.
First, the bad news. We all now know that there are at least sixty million people in this country who are, at best, enablers of vicious hatred, and at worst — stretch the limits of your imagination, because it’s probably even worse than you think. Regardless of the outcome of this election or future elections, those people aren’t going anywhere. In the battle for the soul of America, there are sixty million angry, misguided people in the tide of shit that threatens to envelop us all.
Not only do so many of these people exist, but they live in states where they can bend the Electoral College to their will. America’s broken, outdated system for electing its President allows just a few states to determine the election’s outcome. Sorry, conservative Californians, sorry, liberal Alabamans — until electoral reform comes, the votes of dissenters might as well be thrown in the fire. And this impacts turnout: with so many votes counting for nothing, the United States consistently has one of the lowest voting turnout rates of any advanced republic.
Now, the biggest silver lining. Those sixty million people are outnumbered. More people voted against Donald Trump than for him. Trump received over a million fewer votes than John McCain and two million fewer than Mitt Romney. This is a country of over three hundred million people; less than one in five of us voted for him.
This brings us back to Oswalt’s statement: do the good outnumber the mad?
To be clear: “the good” are not Democrats. They are not Hillary Clinton or her supporters. They are the sixty million of us who voted against insanity, hatred, and violence. They are the four in five Americans who did not choose Trump.
In sheer numbers, the good are winning. It’s in the wielding of political power that they are not winning and have not won.
There is no sugar-coating it: we lost 2016’s biggest battle. But as long as there is an America, the war for its soul never ends. The good must, and will, push back in the years to come: dissent, organize, march, legislate, fight tooth and nail at every level of government to ensure that our national identity is not defined by its President-elect.
To answer the question of the headline, there is no winning or losing until the game is over. And this game is still going. “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
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