Ubiñas: 'USA! USA!' easier for some to say today than for others

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, accompanied by her husband former President Bill Clinton, pauses as she concedes the presidential election at the New Yorker Hotel on November 9, 2016 in New York City. Republican candidate Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the early hours of the morning in a widely unforeseen upset. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Admittedly I was beyond bleary-eyed when Donald Trump gave his victory speech early Wednesday morning and reporters almost immediately started commenting on his tone of conciliation and unity.

I noticed the difference, too, but mostly I wished I could have voted for whoever wrote that speech, because the guy reading those words bore absolutely no resemblance to the guy who had just been elected the 45th president of the United States.

"Now it's time for America to bind the wounds of division," Trump said, without a hint of irony after a campaign built on stoking division.

"I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans," said the man who showed contempt for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and women.

"This political stuff is nasty," said the man who redefined the word with inflammatory and inaccurate remarks that defied civility.

We in the "elite" media had just had our butts handed to us for completely missing Trump's path to victory, for depending on fuzzy data and echo chambers of homogenous newsrooms, and now here we were overly self-correcting by touting a kinder, gentler Trump, as if the clock was reset and the slate wiped clean.

Part of that was just politics and political coverage at play. One minute reporters and columnists are calling out candidates' missteps, the next - at least for a little while - they are calling for the need to move forward, to be open to a candidate who suddenly says he wants to build bridges, even when his platform was built on burning them down.

One minute opponents are at each other's throats, the next they are shaking hands and extending olive branches. Hey, all's fair in love and politics, right? Because everyone knows that down-and-dirty wins the game, right? Because Trump isn't serious about building that wall, right? Because he only went after Mexicans and women and Muslims and a reporter with a disability because he knew it would pump up his supporters.

USA! USA!

Hey, easy to believe, for those whom Trump didn't insult and demean. Easy for a non-black, non-Latino, non-gay, non-Muslim, non-female person to take the long view and create story lines about how Trump will somehow grow into the office and embrace unity and progress. (I'll remind my white sisters who say they have my back that, according to early exit polls, 45 percent of college-educated white women chose Trump.)

Easy for all the unscathed and non-Others to move on, when the absolute worst thing Trump or a supporter ever said may have been deeply offensive, but didn't truly affect their humanity or their dignity. Their very existence.

Easy to forgive the demagoguery if everything works out over the next four years, and hey, it was just politics.

Easy for so many to say race didn't carry Trump into the White House, even if he was endorsed by the Klan. I don't think extremists handed him his victory, even if "Sieg Heil," swastikas, and racist Trump graffiti were reported Wednesday in South Philly, on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass attacks on Jews in Germany.

But what of those who insist that race wasn't an issue but who were complicit in their silence as Trump and supporters treated people of color deplorably - the very silence they kept before walking into the voting booth and voting for Trump? According to Edison Research's national election poll, 63 percent of white men and 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.

Easy to convince ourselves that we will endure, that we are a self-correcting country, when you're not reading a heart-crushing tweet from a friend seriously asking if her same-sex marriage is in jeopardy or news accounts of immigrants wondering what a Trump presidency means for their standing in the country they call home.

In Clinton's concession speech, she said we owe Trump an open mind and a chance to lead.

No, he has to earn that.

And if anyone is owed anything, the press owes the public diversified newsrooms that truly reflect America, to empathize with Trump supporters whom he calls the "forgotten," but also to stand up, speak up, and protect the rights of those he threw under the bus while courting his base.

We can start with stopping all the naively breathless "gracious" and "building bridges" narratives. Donald Trump's corrosive campaign playbook caused real damage to real people - damage that one conciliatory victory speech can't repair.

Email: ubinas@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5943

@NotesFromHel

Helen.Ubinas