One way to look at the election of Donald Trump, the rise of nativism and hostility toward the growing diversity of the country is as evidence of diversity’s strength.
You don’t have to fight or fear people who are too oppressed and powerless to threaten your sense of security.
But when gay people and transgender people are getting promoted and elected, when a black man is chosen and re-chosen to lead the country, when an American Olympian competes in a head scarf, then, if you feel these people represent a threat to your way of life, you might also feel scared and angry.
You might start casting about for a champion — someone unafraid to make generalizations about immigrants that express your fears. If that person also speaks about women in degrading terms, mocks disabled people and insults war heroes, you might be willing to overlook that, if your fears are strong enough.
So the election of Donald Trump is, counter-intuitively, evidence of how much more diverse and progressive this country is becoming.
And Tuesday’s election was evidence that the wave of change is going to be hard to hold back, even if some walls get built and some obstructionists get elected.
Here are a few of the things that happened Tuesday:
A black transgender woman was elected to the city council in Minneapolis;
Topeka, Kansas elected a Hispanic woman as mayor;
Hoboken, New Jersey, elected a Sikh man as mayor;
New Jersey and Virginia elected black candidates as their lieutenant governors;
Helena, Montana elected a Liberian refugee as mayor;
Seattle elected Jenny Durkan, a former U.S. attorney and a lesbian, as mayor;
And the Virginia Legislature has a new member — Danica Roem, a transgender woman who ran for the seat held by a man, Bob Marshall, who pushed a “bathroom bill” to keep transgender people out of public restrooms.
Also, in our area, the one place where Republicans embraced the divisive, attack-oriented political style of Donald Trump — Queensbury — they got summarily smacked down by a disgusted electorate.
Some of the Trump supporters in this country embraced him in all his garishness and gratuitous hate-mongering as the leader they had been longing for. Trump is their sun and they will not turn away from him.
But for many others in the middle, the proof is in the doing. It wasn’t only the scheming and sniping that doomed Republicans in Queensbury; it was the presence of accomplished alternatives in John Strough and other Democrats.
If Trump continues to be a chaos-creating president remarkable mostly for his incompetence, practical supporters will eventually lose patience.
If Danica Roem turns out to be as smart and effective in the Virginia Legislature as she was on the campaign trail, she will get re-elected. As with any job, what you show you can do as a politician becomes, over time, more important than what you say you can.