Hey America, everything is going to be all right

I didn’t sleep last night. Did you?

The presidential election kept me on the edge of my seat until early this morning. At 5 a.m., my 14-year-old son, Aren, came into the office and asked, “Who won, Dad?”

“Donald Trump.”

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“You’re kidding,” he replied.

“I’m not.”

As many of you know, this is not a political site, and rest assured, this isn’t a political post.

It’s about you and me and where we go from here, now that we’ve taken this remarkable step. It’s also about advocacy and customer service, which I’ve dedicated my career to covering and fighting for. (If you’re tired of reading about these important topics, just skip this story. Another post will be along in about an hour.)

It took Aren several minutes to process the news. President Trump.

For weeks, we’d discussed the election and the difficulty of choosing between two deeply flawed presidential hopefuls. Like me, he knew which candidate he liked less, but was still unhappy with the options. And now he looked upset.

“What are we going to do?”

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

First, I said, “Everything is going to be all right.”

I meant it. And for a lot of reasons. No one person is bigger than our democracy, no matter what he or she says. The American system has critical checks and balances that apply even when the ruler is an authoritarian. And the next congressional elections are only two short years away. Most importantly, it’s a big world — a world in which we still have the freedom to travel.

“How about you?” he asked.

Me? He meant: I’m a journalist and a consumer advocate, which are not exactly the president-elect’s favorite class of people.

I told him not to worry. I’d been threatened with jail for refusing to reveal the identity of a source (yes, Obama was president then) and I survived. But I also happen to have a lot of friends in the travel industry and Canada is one of my favorite destinations. If things get a little too authoritarian for me, I can always pay my pals in Whistler an extended visit.

I could tell that Aren was struggling to understand the results, just as I had struggled to explain all of the candidates’ unusual behaviors. As a parent, how do you tell your kids that lying, name-calling and fear-mongering is wrong, when your candidates openly do it?

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This is not the America I know and love. I don’t recognize it anymore.

I confessed that the last president I really wanted to vote for was Ronald Reagan in the 80s, but I wasn’t old enough. I loved the way he put the Soviets in their place. The president-elect seems to have a much cozier relationship with the current Russian government. But I digress.

And so what does all of this have to do with you, the readers of this site?

It means we could have a problem, here.

Candidate Trump has vowed to dismantle regulations, some of which were really important and protected you from predatory businesses. Will he follow through? In a Republican-controlled Congress, he’ll certainly try. Get rid of the regulations, maybe get rid of a few watchdogs while he’s at it. You can see where all of this might be headed.

Not good. Not good at all.

And yet, I’m optimistic. Not so much about the next four years, but about what happens after that. If President Trump is so business-friendly that consumers like you end up getting ripped off, there will be a reckoning in the next election, if not sooner.

Americans are a patient and forgiving people, but their patience and forgiveness have limits. I hope we don’t get to find out where they draw the line. But I suspect we will.

(By the way, I’m researching a separate story about what a Trump presidency means for customer service. You can leave comments on my Facebook page or send me an email.)

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