Finally, we have to consider what Trump’s campaign has done to us as a people.
I will admit here that this election, even in middle age, has changed me. I have never missed an election since 1980. I have felt elation, disappointment, and sometimes apathy or resignation. But I have never experienced the deep cynicism and sadness I feel watching my fellow citizens living out their worst fears and prejudices. I have never felt a complete lack of connection even to some of my closest family and friends over politics.
I am partly to blame here: I have allowed this election, and the degree to which Trump’s disgusting antics have succeeded with millions of people, to wear me down. I have tried to maintain engagement with the public as part of my personal vocation as a teacher and a scholar, but I admit that my faith in the virtue of American voters has been shaken. (And make no mistake: that the Democrats chose Hillary Clinton has done nothing to shore up that faith.)
A President should inspire us and encourage us to be better than we are. Trump has degraded us, urged us to be as bestial as we wish, and to immerse ourselves in the kind of hatreds and prejudices that would make our lives in a community and as a nation utterly impossible. He has encouraged us to abandon our duties as citizens of a republic, our heritage as Americans, and our very souls as human beings.