I don't know that we owe President-elect Donald Trump an "open mind," as Hillary Clinton suggested in her speech to supporters Wednesday. He's shown himself to be a thin-skinned, tax-dodging, deal-reneging, racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic bully with very little self control, and it's unlikely our having rewarded such behavior with the keys to the kingdom will suddenly result in some kind of moral awakening for him at age 70.
As Maya Angelou said, "when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." The Donald has repeatedly shown us who he is, and giving him the chance to do so again has something of a "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice (or 20 times), shame on me" feel. Unfortunately, much of the electorate didn't particularly care.
But those of us who do care owe it to ourselves — and our children and grandchildren — to take another piece of Ms. Clinton's day-after advice: "Let's do all we can," she said, "to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear: making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top; protecting our country and protecting our planet; and breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams."
That takes more than casting a vote on Election Day, something many Americans couldn't even be bothered to do (nearly half of eligible voters, more than 108 million people, did not vote, according to the United States Elections Project). It requires real work, analysis and self reflection — and an understanding that in the current climate, "advancing" may be an overreach. The goal might just be stemming the losses, which are expected to be, as Mr. Trump would say, "great."
Already, DOTUS is set to roll back gains on protecting the environment by dismantling an international agreement to curb climate emissions and appointing a climate-change skeptic to oversee his EPA transition team, which could more aptly be described as the "demolition crew." Obamacare is also on the chopping block, without a viable replacement, as are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Iran nuclear deal, a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants and federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
There's talk that Mr. Trump will put "right-wingin', bitter-clingin'" Sarah Palin in his cabinet along with his inner circle of old white males, including "fascinated with sex" Newt Gingrich, who's under consideration for a post as secretary of state or health and human services; "everybody [has affairs]" Rudy Giuliani (our potential new attorney general); and no one told me Bridgegate "was an act of political retribution" Chris Christie (the possible AG, or secretary of either commerce or homeland security).
There's legitimate concern that this group's policies would worsen the systemic inequalities already built into so many of our country's institutions. But it's the blatant social setbacks they represent that feel the most like a slap in the face — particularly coming as they do on the heels of having twice elected our country's first black president.
At its most benign level, a vote for Mr. Trump was a reckless vote against the establishment and so-called "elite." Up a step, it was a vote for a conservative Supreme Court — meaning a vote against gay rights, abortion access and stricter gun control. And at it's most sinister, it was a vote for a male-dominated Aryan nation.
Therefore, I propose we view this slap as a sort of "snap out of it" smack, rather than crippling assault. It's time to toughen up, dry the tears (seriously, Cornell University, you held a "cry in"?) and move forward, taking our activism beyond Facebook. Those who were "shocked" and "stunned" by the election's outcome haven't been paying enough attention to the wider world — both its prejudices and pains. Try zooming in on those election maps, and you'll see that the red zones aren't just in the middle of the country but in our backyards; 17 out of Maryland's 24 jurisdictions went to Mr. Trump.
So, figure out your particular passion, join a group that promotes it, and get to know your neighbors. You might learn something from them while you're learning about them, and vice versa. At the very least, such interactions might remove the sting of our ideological divisions along with some of the fear we feel toward those who aren't exactly like us, and in turn, reduce the likelihood that another Donald Trump can again win the White House.
Because while he may not have been your pick for president, he is indeed your president. And this is your country.
Don't like it? Do the work to change it.
Tricia Bishop is The Sun's deputy editorial page editor. Her column runs every other Friday. Her email is email@example.com; Twitter: @triciabishop.