The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Why millions fear the looming Trump presidency

The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart asks: Is this my America? I don’t know anymore. (Video: Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Let me share with you what a friend emailed me the other day.

“Maybe you have this thing that i have,” he wrote, “but i’m looking at my straight white male co-workers who are still gliding through their day unencumbered, and i’m just like ‘you people just do not get it. you might be upset about the outcome, but you. just. don’t. under. stand. right. Now.’”

Yes, I have “this thing” my friend has. Maybe you do, too.

“This thing” is more than disappointment by the defeat of Hillary Clinton, arguably the most qualified person to seek the office in recent memory who happens to be a woman.

After a campaign that mainstreamed white supremacy, xenophobia and misogyny, “this thing” is palpable fear.

Fear of being targeted because you’re Muslim. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on a ban of Muslims from entering the United States. Hate crimes against Muslims went up 78 percent during the course of 2015. No doubt empowered by Trump’s ugly rhetoric.

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Fear of being targeted because you or your family members are undocumented immigrants. No. 5 on Trump’s “10-point plan to put America first” is the termination of President Obama’s two executive orders, DACA and DAPA, that protected from deportation the children of undocumented immigrants and the undocumented parents of American-born children.

Fear of being targeted because you’re transgender. The Republican Party platform supports those fear-mongering bathroom bills that demean and ultimately endanger the lives of transgender Americans. And the Obama Justice Department that intervened to protect the rights and dignity of transgender Americans in North Carolina will give way to a Trump attorney general who couldn’t care less.

[Loretta Lynch to transgender America: I’ve got your back]

Fear of being targeted because you’re African American. In response to protests against police-involved killings of Black men, President-elect Trump declared during the campaign he was a law-and-order candidate. He advocated a national stop-and-frisk policy that would only exacerbate tensions between police and the people they are sworn to serve and protect. Both are echoes of the Big Apple mayoralty of Rudy Giuliani. That he could be the next attorney general does nothing to make African Americans feel safe.

Fear of being targeted because you’re gay or lesbian. The Republican platform opposes same-sex marriage. Vice President-elect Mike Pence championed a law that legalized discrimination under the cover of so-called religious freedom. Trump’s vow to revoke all of Obama’s executive orders would strip discrimination protections from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender federal contractors.

[No freedom from religion for gays in Indiana]

More than one well-meaning colleague has told me, “Well, look at it this way, you have plenty of material to write about.” True. But here’s what our well-meaning friends, especially those who have not felt the sting of discrimination or even otherness, need to understand.

President-elect Trump has made promises that represent a threat to real lives and livelihoods. Some are unconstitutional. All are immoral.

And until the president-elect demonstrates otherwise, the gnawing fear will remain and grow deeper. His tweet blaming nationwide protests on the media — and then praising the protests hours later — show how far we are from having our fears acknowledged and addressed.

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