That Donald Trump will be president is appalling. However, it is easy to forget in the shock what it would have meant if Clinton had won. Some would have been relieved, but it would also have been appalling. As Douthat pointed out, her presidency would have been sane, normal, mainstream from the perspective of the elites, but the elites are capable of including what is in fact terrible in the realm of the sane.
In other words, whatever horror, outrage, sadness, someone may be feeling because Trump won—we should already have been feeling that and we should have felt it if Clinton won too (at the least, to an important degree).
Judging by Twitter, etc there are people who are seeing their role now as one of opposition to whatever bad things President Trump may do or reach for. This is obviously right. The complementary truth is that our role should already have been oppositional and it should have been so no matter who won.
There is, of course, a purely policy level here. Americans on both sides of the aisle will see themselves as the dedicated opponents of this presidency at the level of policy (or, better, at the level of “politics” in the modern sense). In that domain, I for one have felt somewhat hopeful about the clarifying effect this outcome may have on things
But it is much more than that. Trump’s victory is not the only darkness revealed more visibly to us last night (an apocalyptic night, in that sense). Colorado passed assisted suicide. This is following on DC’s decision on Nov. 1st to give “initial approval” to the same. Our culture is dark in many ways (which is not necessarily to imply that is not light in many ways, too).
We ourselves are dark in many ways. The opposition to evil must be first the opposition to our failings. It seems to me that at least one dimension of this is an awareness of our fallibility in a way that inspires humility before the mistakes, errors, or sins of others. If you think it was morally illicit for someone to vote for Donald Trump, that’s included here. This, for example, is not the tone to take.
That Donald Trump won the presidency on the birthday of Dorothy Day (though past midnight) is extremely and tragically fitting symbolism. That pairing stands as a kind of prophetic monument against what happened last night. I think we would do well to study her life and work and the Catholic Worker movement as we go forward.
“And our blessed Lord answered most compassionately and in a very friendly way, and showed me that Adam’s sin was the greatest harm that ever was done, or ever shall be, until the end of the world; and he also showed me that this is publicly acknowledged through all Holy Church on earth. Furthermore, he taught me that I should consider the glorious atonement; for this atonement is incomparably more pleasing to God and more glorious in saving mankind than Adam’s sin was ever harmful.So what our blessed Lord’s teaching means is that we should take heed of the following: ‘Since I have turned the greatest possible harm into good, it is my will that you should know from this that I shall turn all lesser evil into good.'”