Democracy & Government

Your Turn: Farewell, America

Neal Gabler's post following Donald Trump's election hit a nerve, and thousands of people wrote about it.

Your Turn: Farewell, America

A view of the Washington Monument from the west lawn of the Capitol. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)

Days after Election Day, Neal Gabler wrote an evocative BillMoyers.com post decrying America and expressing deep concern for the future of our country.

He wrote, “America died on Nov. 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on Nov. 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on Nov. 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it.”

Gabler’s somewhat dark post led to some strong public responses, with over 9,000 comments on our platforms alone. Here’s a sampling of that feedback, which has been lightly edited.

It’s Lunacy

“No need to say farewell to America, we’ll be just fine, this is nothing new. Just follow the lead of black and brown Americans who have survived for centuries with far, far worse American presidents than Trump. It’s unfortunate that so many Americans allow themselves and their children to be brainwashed by the corporate media. To believe that somehow the elite and powerful care about the rest of us is lunacy. The elite have been dividing and conquering the 99 percent of us since the 1600s when they realized that they could use skin color to elevate poor white people just enough so that they would fight against their own best interest. Trump, the corporate-owned media and the Republican party continue this long standing American tradition, and white folks fell for it again hook, line, and sinker.” — Don Adams

Wake up

“I am most shocked at all these ‘I am so shocked’ articles. Where have you been? Most people want a job, a chance to earn a decent living and to feel like the government is listening to them and not just spouting out talking points. They say ‘we will respect’ whoever comes into office, ‘we will work together’ to help solve problems — and within a day or less, it’s back to the same old song-and-dance, dog-and-pony show I’ve watched all my life.

I am so tired of the nonsense on both sides and this article is a perfect example of the left’s rant. I need only go to Fox News and hear the right’s rant. I am an old woman and I am tired of the endless complaints from both sides — enough! I have lived in five states in this country and in every one I’ve seen this: People of all races, colors and creeds generally working together and trying to just make a living and carve out some joy in this life. But politicians and elites don’t like that; divide and conquer is what the game is. It’s enough to disgust anyone who pays any attention to politics, which is why I resolve — again — to stop watching the news and the ridiculous 24/7 news cycle, get off these sites and go do something decent for others and myself more — and worry about all this less. Vote, do good and try my best — what else can the average Joe do?” — Angie Wilson

If America died on 11/8, then when was it living? When chattel slavery was legal in half the country?

Buck up, Dammit

“This is absolutely no time for defeatism. If America died on 11/8, then when was it living? When chattel slavery was legal in half the country? When 600,000 people were killed horribly in the effort to stop it? During a century of Jim Crow? Buck up, dammit — America lives and don’t you forget it. Now is the time to step up. Now is the time to hold the line. Now is the time to declare ourselves, whatever we are, and work that much harder for the America we want.” — Jeff Blanks

“I grew up in the era of Nixon, Vietnam and the civil rights movement. I’ve been fighting for a good society all my life. I may be a bit beyond my years now, but I’m still ready to keep fighting. We’re not defeated. We’re not even on the ropes. We’re just chastened and a bit stunned to learn that we’ve found the enemy again. And, once again, he is us.” — David Biddle

Not Getting Over It

“The fact that Donald Trump is the president-elect is not what bothers me the most. What frightens me is the newly realized knowledge of how many of my ‘fellow countrymen’ have set aside decency, pride in our nation and all the great and noble attributes that we as a people stood for once, in the eyes of all people around the world. We were looked to for reason and compassion, for our understanding of the desires of all people to join together as one family of mankind, with the freedom to live, love and worship without restraint or tyranny or the threat of harm and isolation. I grew up believing in those ideals, fortunate and proud to have been born in such a nation. This election has changed all I believed. The numbers of my fellow countrymen that are okay with all that Trump has said and done and stands for is an eye opener that I will never get over.” — Geri J.

Keep bashing and belittling those that don’t agree with you, so as to ensure continued results as those that occurred on Election Day.

Stop It

“Keep bashing and belittling those that don’t agree with you, so as to ensure continued results as those that occurred on Election Day. Along with your white-male bashing, don’t forget to target: The 42 percent of women who voted for Trump; the 29 percent of Hispanics who voted for Trump and the 8 percent of African-Americans who voted for Trump. Grow up, accept the results and move forward graciously, continuing to fight for what you believe in a mature manner, as was suggested so eloquently by Clinton and Obama in their speeches following your defeat.” — Carl Chartier

An Eroding Middle Class

“As a person well acquainted with how our political process works, Trump’s victory does not surprise me. Yes, it is true Trump embodies all the ugliness that has always been a part of America’s experience, but why it is so boldly evident today is the fact that since Ronald Reagan, policies adopted by both major political parties have been slowly eating away at our nation’s middle class.

We have watched and in many cases applauded those who promise that by making those with money wealthier, everyone will benefit. We have accepted the notion that public education is not affordable for all and we have encouraged by example, the rewarding of those who steal from us enormous sums of money we term severance packages. People applaud the notion of seeing their health care vanish and believe that it is entirely correct that only the very wealthy should be heard in halls of Washington. Donald Trump recognized the decades of anger such policies have created and figured out a way to become the most powerful man on the planet by exploiting this anger.” — Sam Goodman

Give Trump a Chance

“Sir, I am not hate filled. I voted for Donald Trump because this country could not stand four more years of failed economic policies. I also could not vote for a corrupt, lying politician only concerned about enriching herself. Does my vote not count as much as yours? You seem to think democracy only works when your candidate wins. I ask you to give the new president a chance before preaching your ‘doom and gloom’ for this great country.” — Marty Williams

Be Part of the Solution

“This election has opened my eyes to the plight of people I didn’t know about or had forgotten. This election has not really changed anything about who/what we are as a nation. We now just have a more visible representation of where we are. Now we can do something about it. Sure you may need to mourn, but be part of the solution. This is still a country where you can make a difference. This has not changed. It is not just about words. Get out of your armchair, turn off your computer or put down your tablet or phone and go do something for someone. Maybe if we stop listening to the whining — especially those who get paid to whine — it will go away.” — Donna Brewington White

Karin Kamp

Karin Kamp is a multimedia journalist and producer. She has produced content for BillMoyers.com, NOW on PBS and WNYC public radio and worked as a reporter for Swiss Radio International. She also helped launch The Story Exchange, a site dedicated to women's entrepreneurship.