What you are about to read below was written the day after the election. Often when I find myself stressed or angered, I will write my thoughts, leave them on my desk, and revisit them a few days later. Sometimes I find it unnecessary to send the letter or post the writing. Other times, I edit it with a clearer head and occasionally it still fits and goes out as originally written.
Today, what I wrote on November 9th stands. What I want to do is add a few thoughts. Our community, our city, has an obligation to continue to be inclusive, concerned, welcoming and tolerant. If anyone in our neighborhood feels isolated, worried, concerned, threatened or intimidated, or if anyone is victimized by bigotry, motivated by race, ethnicity, religion, sexual preference or gender identity, then I encourage you to contact me, so that together we can seek to address the issue using all the resources we can muster through community and government resources.
I have reached out to institutions and entities in our ward, such as not for profits who work with immigrant populations and mosques, offering my assistance to address issues that they may face now or in the future. I am steadfast in my support for marriage equality and will oppose, to best of my ability, attempts to roll back time on hard won freedoms.
My commitment is to work with the community as a whole, and any and all individuals who need help to live in and enjoy all the best things that the City offers and affords to all citizens.
The following is my initial thoughts after the recent presidential election.
What is one to think in the aftermath of the election this past Tuesday? Watching the news last night, in some of the big cities across the country, there were protests decrying the ascendancy of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States. Interviewee after interviewee commented on how they felt that their voice was not being heard. They were angry, frustrated or scared about their future and the future of our country.
In most of the big cities being reported from, Hillary Clinton had won decisively on Tuesday. Indeed she actually received more votes than Donald Trump. I know how the folks in the news felt because I know how I feel and how my family feels.
What I’d like to know is how the people who voted for Mr. Trump in the rust belt, in the rural and southern parts of our country feel about the election results. Here in Chicago, where Hillary Clinton won overwhelmingly, we are afraid of the worst, afraid that Donald Trump actually meant some of the things he said during the campaign.
Donald Trump is, if anything, not the normal person who runs for high office. He had no significant allies, no major endorsements, no big newspaper endorsements or support. So what will he, in fact, try to accomplish out of all the things he promoted on the campaign trail?
This brings me back to the “other America” that apparently exists somewhere outside Chicago, Cook and all the collar counties where Hillary Clinton cleaned up election night. In places where she lost, and Donald Trump won, what are their thoughts presently? Do they all want to see a southern border wall? Do they all want to segregate Muslims and stop all immigration from war torn countries, even in places where American troops are fighting and contributing to the displacement? How many of them want to repeal Obamacare or reverse marriage equality? What percentage wants to make a woman’s choice a crime?
In our community, our neighborhood, we have people of every kind. We are a ward where no one racial or ethnic group constitutes a majority, and if all of the minorities are aggregated, they would be a majority of the ward.
We are home to some of the finest schools in the city and have houses of worship for nearly every faith on earth. There is great local health care and some vibrant business streets with good housing stock.
Our community is statistically the safest area in the city, according to Police Department stats. Sure there are issues and we have problems that need to be addressed regularly. It is, after all, city life. But with all these blessings and good things going on, of course we would vote in a way that wanted to maintain what we have and improve upon these things. For me, Hillary Clinton was the choice to accomplish that.
But wait, one could say. A few short months ago, Hillary Clinton lost in the primary not just in our ward, but throughout the north side of the city to Democratic Socialist Bernard Sanders. His platform promised things that struck a chord with people who rarely, if ever, participated in the election process and the outpouring of new or infrequent voters gave an insight into some of the dissatisfaction or unanswered wants or needs of citizens living amongst us in our great neighborhood.
We took comfort that Hillary Clinton won the primary and that she adopted some of the Sanders’ platform. Surely that would add to her appeal.
But Tuesday night, in places that are remote and unknown to most Chicagoans, Americans who were angry, disconnected, and who felt disrespected by government made their statement. They were willing to look past things many of us consider abhorrent to vote for Donald Trump. Or worse yet, did they vote for him because they agreed with those positions he took?
Now, there are people who are angry, disconnected and who feel disrespected by our government elect. We wait anxiously to see what direction the new president takes.
As I watched the protests last night I wished that the news could somehow capture what the winners of the election were really thinking. I don’t mean Trump or Pence. I mean their supporters, because I feel that the Trump-Pence presidency will go as far as they can to continue to tap into and nurture the movement that they have ridden to the White House. I don’t need to watch the protesters in Chicago and New York. I know their disappointment, fears and anger. I would like to know, however, how much of what Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence have said during the past 18 months or so they plan on implementing. What are they really going to try to accomplish and how far will they lead or be led by their followers?
Alderman, Ward Forty