Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee: 2016 is the 10th circle of hell

My mother sent me a text message letting me know my uncle voted for Donald Trump, reinforcing my belief that closeted homosexuals are a danger to themselves and others. This is the same Midwestern liberal who a few years ago prophesied the rapture occurring at a specific hour on the tarmac of a small airport in Rockford, Illinois, and that he, my closeted gay uncle, would become the worldly vessel for the second coming of Christ.

Such is the ungodly, deranged zeitgeist of our republic. If there were a modern remake of Dante’s Inferno, the year 2016 would be added as the 10th circle of hell.

Donald Trump is our president-elect. That is one the most incomprehensible and frightening sentences I have ever typed.

I cannot yet talk about a Trump administration without sounding as crazy as my closeted, anointed uncle. As someone who’s never really questioned his attachment to sanity, it feels bizarre to be contemplating food lines, nuclear genocide, clandestine resistance and how many days until our future president is shooting himself in an underground bunker.

I recognize how generic it is to compare someone with different political views to Nazis, and how my alarmism echoes the tin-hatted predictions by President Obama’s critics. But Trump’s mesmerizing political rise, fueled by narcissism and bigotry, is unlike anything our politics have seen since Andrew Jackson, who attempted to make America great again by exterminating its original inhabitants – something Trump might admire if he knew anything about history.

However, the most worrying aspect of the 2016 election is not Trump (a buffoon who did everything possible to prove how unqualified he is to be president of the United States), but rather the more than 61 million Americans who ignored all of that and made him the most powerful person in the world. It’s the Republican leaders who early on identified Trump as a dangerous racist with unconstitutional and totalitarian tendencies, but now pretend he is a respectable leader after months of Trump doing nothing but confirming the accuracy of their initial assessment.

There’s angst on the left about how to understand and characterize Trump voters, but they deserve no nuance or empathy: anyone who voted for Donald Trump is a racist. Sixty-one million Americans ignored Trump’s failure to articulate a coherent policy position on any issue without contradicting himself within a few tweets, how he has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old with an ear infection, his advocacy for war crimes and sexual assault, and they did so because they fundamentally agree with the single consistent theme of his campaign: America was a better place before it had to worry about Mexicans and Muslims, or black people whining about being executed by agents of the state.

At least the citizens of 1930s Germany have the excuse of being hypnotized by Hitler’s gifted oratory; Americans were obtuse enough to be enticed toward fascism by a man who doesn’t know a synonym for “tremendous” and is unable to complete sentences. Who needs fancy words or lyrical syntax when you’ve got dog whistles to “say what’s on people’s minds”?

LGBT Americans must not join the duped, even as Trump softens his reckless campaign pledges on our issues. I’ve never perceived Trump to be rabidly anti-gay, but if you think that means we will be protected from the bigots he is empowering, or that LGBT Americans won’t be affected by the nightmare of his presidency, I’ve got a ticket to the rapture I’d like to sell you.