Thoughts on the Election

I’ve tried to start this post a dozen times.

Every time I try to put how I feel into words, I draw a blank.

I guess that’s how I’ve been feeling since Tuesday. Blank. Empty.

Numb.

Stricken.

Donald Trump—a man who has admitted both to sexually assaulting women (note at the bottom of the article how he claims “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course—not even close,” as if Bill was the one running against him) and to generally being a creeper; who refers to immigrants as rapists; who has encouraged his supporters to commit violence against anyone with whom he disagrees—has been elected president of the United States.

We watched the whole thing. Even when it was clear what would happen, we couldn’t look away. We had to know for sure. In increasing disbelief, we watched as the swing states flipped for Trump, one after the other.

It was quiet, mostly. Just me and Andrew and a friend of mine from work, Ollie. Not much was said in the last hour or so other than murmured expletives. (There were quite a lot of those.) By the end, we could barely look at each other. We went to sleep stunned that what we had truly believed was impossible had, in fact, come to pass.

Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States.

***

I am afraid. I am afraid for my husband, an Army dentist who for all I know could be deployed when Trump inevitably insults Russia or China or North Korea on Twitter. I am afraid for my black, brown, Muslim, LGBTQ+, disabled, and female friends—frankly, I am afraid for anyone who is not a white male. I am afraid, selfishly, for myself; despite my multitude of privilege, despite my relative wealth and education and security, I am afraid. I am afraid of a world where it’s okay to be racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic—and this is the world that Trump has brought about.

This country has fought long and hard for equality in all arenas; from suffrage to the civil rights movement to marriage equality, the march of progress has not been stopped. It has been postponed, and it has been slowed, and it has even been rolled back before surging ahead again, but progress has always won out in the end. I expect it to do so now, as well, but it seems today that we have regressed.

I have family, as I’m sure you do as well, who voted for Trump. People that I love and respect and look up to voted for a man whose beliefs I find odious in the extreme. These people do not necessarily share these beliefs, or at least not all of them; I trust—for my own fragile peace of mind, I trust—that my beloved family had reasons unrelated to racism, sexism, misogyny, etc. that caused them to vote for Trump.

But what I haven’t seemed to be able to get through to them is that even if they don’t share these beliefs, and even if they are not perpetrating some of the heinous hate crimes that have occurred since Tuesday, that they had a hand in bringing them about by voting for a man who inspires those beliefs and actions in his followers.

This is what scares me. It scares me that the signs were all there—the violence at Trump rallies, inspired and egged on by the man himself; the promises to not accept the results of the election if Hillary won because it’s “rigged” (but of course no mention of rigging now that he’s won); the suggestions that “Second Amendment people” could take matters into their own hands should she appoint justices who favored restricting access to guns—and yet he was still elected our President.

Every injury, every death, every hate crime that occurs after this election—their blood is on Trump’s hands, and on the hands of those who voted him into office. Regardless of whether he believes any of the disgusting things he’s said, he has brought those beliefs back into the mainstream and made it acceptable to act on them. The man was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. How could any decent human being vote for someone supported by one of the most racist organizations in American history?

***

I resent the implication that Trump protesters are “crybabies” or sore losers for being upset over the results of the election. First of all: when Obama was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012, plenty of the same people who are now calling Trump protesters sore losers were hitting the streets in protest. And second of all, Trump himself called for a “revolution” in 2012 when Obama was reelected, and then had the audacity to complain that protests against his own election were “unfair.”  

Yes, we are upset. Yes, we are protesting that a man who has no political experience has been elected to our country’s highest office. Yes, we will continue to raise our voices against his extremist views, and you—yes, you, all of you who voted for him—will be left on the wrong side of history. This I know, and this I promise you.

***

I’ve seen a lot of friends posting about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Denial is over. We can no longer deny what has happened. Half of the population of the United States voted a racist, sexist fearmonger into office. Okay. It happened. It’s over.

Anger and depression have alternately held sway over my emotions. I am angry that I can’t seem to get through to the people I love, and who I thought respected my opinions, at least enough to entertain them enough to try to empathize with them; I am devastated that I live in a world where an incredibly intelligent cousin insists that accusations of racism and sexism against Trump are “baseless.”

Bargaining in its original sense has not really crossed my mind, but I do pledge to give to causes that will stop Trump from rolling back marriage rights, reproductive rights, and civil rights; I pledge to call out racism or sexism when I see it, and work untiringly to eradicate it; I pledge to lend my ear, shoulder, or home to anyone who has been disenfranchised or feels afraid for their safety in Trump’s America.

Acceptance is the last stage. While I have, I suppose, accepted that Donald Trump will be inaugurated to the presidency in January (come on, faithless electors!), here is what I will not accept: I will not accept the violence being done in the name of “making America great again.” I will not accept men who think it is their right to “grab women by the pussy.” I will not accept a loss of marriage equality for everyone, regardless of who they love. I will not accept attempts to deport Muslims or bar them from entering the United States. I will not accept denials of global warming. I will not accept reduced reproductive rights. I will not. I will not.

My dad always taught me that it was important to do the hard right, rather than the easy wrong. It would be easy enough for me to go about my life as I always have, ignoring that the KKK plans to march in my current state of residence to celebrate Trump’s victory. It would be easy to brush aside Trump’s statements condoning violence against people who don’t look like me as “misconstrued” or “reading too much into it.” It would be easy for me to cocoon myself in my white, straight, cis-gendered privilege and let others take the brunt of The Donald’s wrath.

But I will not.

And neither should you.

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One thought on “Thoughts on the Election

  1. I was just thinking the other day how long it’s been since I’ve seen a post from you. I’m only sorry it happened under such awful circumstances. So many of us are reeling from an election that I can only characterize as tragic.

    I do want to correct just one thing though: “Half of the population of the United States voted a racist, sexist fearmonger into office.” Only around 55% of registered voters voted in the election, and we now know that more than half of them voted for Clinton. That means that fewer than 25% of registered voters voted for the racist, sexist, fearmonger. And that doesn’t include those who are eligible to register but didn’t, and those who aren’t eligible because of their age or some other reason. Overall, it’s actually a fairly small percentage of the population. I take a bit of comfort from that.

    Otherwise I agree with everything that you said. Although I live in Massachusetts (and am incredibly grateful for that right now) I grew up in Maine and have some family members who voted for Trump. While I don’t think they are especially racist or misogynist, the result is the same and I blame them for the result. But you’re right that we *all* need to work to change things. I started by throwing money at some organizations who are pro-women and anti-bigotry and I don’t know what I’ll do next, but I’ll do something. We can make Congress Democratic in 2018, and I’m pretty confident that will happen. I just worry about the more vulnerable people and what they’ll have to endure before them.

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