I'm guilty. I'm not proud of it. I certainly should have known better. But in the end, I'm guilty.
Over the course of the past 8 years I inexplicably set my ever-present, pre-2008 militant skepticism aside to buy into the idea that the historic election of Barack Obama was a sign, a signal, some sort of harbinger that America was slowly beginning to turn a corner toward the version of itself that Martin dreamed about, that Senator Obama touted, that puts a twinkle in the eyes of Doris Kearns Goodwin.
It was the disorienting combination of optimism from the 2008 and 2012 elections mixed with the admiration and pride I took in the symbolism of the Obama family that made me think, "well, maybe."
In retrospect the optimism was clearly unwarranted, and there were signs.
Police abuse and harassment and murder of Black males didn't abate during the Obama years. There was no noticeable improvement in our overall economic condition. Attempts were actively made to suppress our vote. There was no targeted effort to address with specificity the ills that plague our communities. In other words it was American business as usual.
Yet, I was still caught off-guard by the presidential election results.
I asked myself the same left-leaning question as others in my circle — How could this happen?
While it took several hours for the shock to wear off, I snapped back to reality and remembered that this is America — a country that for the better part of the past 240 years has been openly hostile to "others," legislatively, judicially, and culturally. A country where the irony and hypocrisy of slave-owning founders continues to be lost on flag-waving, freedom loving patriots.
A country where a Black quarterback kneeling for a propagandist theme song can be vilified, and a megalomaniacal xenophobe, who wears his contempt on his sleeve and the face of his baseball cap, can be swept into the land's highest office by stirring up a sentiment that never really went away, but whose insidious stench was masked on the coasts by ambrosial affection for the Obamas, and the dignity and poise with which they conducted themselves in the face of outright hostility from many quarters.
Tuesday's election results weren't just tallies of numbers, but a tacit reminder that this is still America.
An America where the white voters who swept Trump into office bought into either the Rust Belt fantasy that the laborious factory jobs made obsolete by technology and cheap foreign labor are coming back, or the redneck dream of returning to an era when America was great, the white man was on top, and women, niggers and foreigners knew their places.
For these voters, Trump's years spent questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama's birth and faith were not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, Trump's comments that an American judge couldn't be a fair arbiter in the courtroom because of his of his Mexican heritage was not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, Trump's desire to ban Muslims from entering the US was not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, Trump's support of the blatantly discriminatory "Stop and Frisk" policy was not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, calling Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers was not disqualifying factor.
For these voters, bragging about sexually assaulting women was not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, mocking the handicapped was not a disqualifying factor.
For these voters, the insults and fact-checked lies cranked out 140 characters at a time were not disqualifying factors.
For these voters, this checklist of items that historically would have sunk any other candidate's campaign, served as confirmation that Trump was their guy.
And they turned out in droves to vote to turn back the clock on social justice, multiculturalism, diversity, tolerance, civil rights, women's rights, and gay rights. In other words, they sought to return America to its natural state.
Tuesday's results underscored what I instinctively already knew to be true but reminded me exactly what, who, and how many enemies we are up against.
As the haze of the Obama Administration begins to fade, it's clear that Obama was the aberration. Trump is the voice and the embodiment of America's multi-generational legacy of disenfranchisement, marginalization and subjugation.
Obama is the exception. Trump is the rule. Trump is America.