A lot of things have transpired in the weeks since my last post.
I gave birth to our son! It was a wondrous experience and he’s brought an enormous amount of joy to our family.
The Cubs won the World Series (!!!), 108 years after our last championship. What a tremendously exciting series to watch, and the buzz and energy following was a great diversion from the day-to-day.
And this past week, as you may have heard, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for the Presidential nomination but lost in electoral votes, giving Donald Trump the title of President-elect. (This isn’t an anti-Trump rant, so please try to make it to the end if you can.)
I want to write posts about all three of these things, but since my emotions today are closely tied to the election results I will do that first. Other posts will come when I have a spare minute to write (which clearly I haven’t had in over a month).
In the weeks leading up to the election, I was confident in Hillary’s ability to win. Not only would she be the first woman president, I thought, but she was from my home state. My home suburban area. She went to high school with my friend’s mom. She is friends with the family of an old classmate of mine. Chelsea is my age, and Hillary reminded me of a mother-figure. I felt a connection to her that was deeper than woman-to-woman, and still do, and I thought it was a given she would win. I mean, how could she not?
Her opponent is/was inexperienced, brash, unpolished, among other things, and his rhetoric was igniting a fire under the people in this country with whom I generally don’t agree – those who seem to be against all I believe in: a women’s right to choose; the right to marry who you want; protection and freedoms for those who don’t fall into the cisgender category, to those who come to our country seeking asylum, and to those whose skin color or religion is different from mine. He discounted and mocked almost every group in this country, from women to Muslims to Mexicans to the disabled.
I thought there was no way that this hateful man could possibly gain enough footing to make it far in the campaign, let alone to be the RNC’s nominee, but now here he is making his way to the Presidency.
The night of the election, I sat with my husband and my newborn son (as our daughter slept in her room) watching the results roll in. As I took a break from the madness and did the dishes, my husband would call out “Trump is taking another state. His lead is increasing.” I told him to stop saying such things, assuming he was half kidding to get under my skin.
Once I realized he was serious, my demeanor changed from hopeful to worried to sick to my stomach.
Around 10pm MST I brought my son to his room to get him ready to go to bed, and within that hour I was in there, at 10:44, my fear was realized. Donald Trump surpassed Hillary Clinton in the electoral votes and was going to be our next President.
I spent much of the night awake taking care of my son, but also soaking up every post on Facebook and Tumblr of people’s reactions and responses, and since my feeds are exceedingly liberal, my emotions were tied up and expressed in those statuses and articles too. I cried as I held my son, thinking of the horrors that were about to unfold. Thinking of the extreme reactions after the Brexit vote and how this was similar, but worse. Further-reaching. How people who hate and exclude now have a supporter in the highest position in our land who also shows hatred and exclusion through his words and actions. It made me scared for the future.
When I finally got into my own bed at who knows what time, I curled up into my husband and cried. I cried for the loss of the potentially bright future under our first woman president, under those who believe what I believe, and who would continue this country in what I see to be an upward trajectory.
The next day was foggy, partly due to the lack of sleep, and felt almost as though I’d had a close personal loss. It was a state of grief. I wanted to cry, or throw up, or both. I texted with friends throughout the day and we were all in a state of disbelief. There was a cloud that hung over my Facebook feed. Friends around the country shared my opinions and feelings, and all of us felt scared, as though hate had won, and as though we didn’t understand the country in which we were now living.
I had a lot to say that morning, but I didn’t post it on Facebook. I felt like a tired rant at 4am was best kept to myself, and since then I have learned more about why it was such a shock to all of us liberals that Hillary didn’t win, and learned more about those who support him and why. My opinion has changed a little.
Although I am deeply disappointed in this country (and frankly scared of many of his supporters and their belief systems), in the fact that this man has made it this far, and in the fact that Hillary won the popular vote but lost the election (like in 2000 with Gore v. Bush), I know that pending some members of the electoral college going rogue and voting against their pledge we are destined for a Trump presidency.
I now understand that a little over 1/4 of the country (since about 45% didn’t vote at all) weren’t all doing it out of blind support for this man – they had legitimate reasons to cast their vote in his favor (or for a third party) just as I had legitimate reasons to not vote for him. I read Facebook posts about conservative Catholic women who voted for Trump because they didn’t like how liberal the Democratic platform was. For example, they don’t agree with the idea (dare I say fact) that Planned Parenthood is a good organization. I read articles about voters in the rural parts of America – the parts that the Democrats seem to have forgotten – who see their world slipping away from them, and they are fearful. They have felt, for the last 8+ years, that their livelihoods and ways of life have been ignored by Washington and the country at large. They found a candidate who promised them great things – and for their sakes I hope they get some relief that isn’t at the demise of the progress we have made.
And, although I don’t agree with most of the things these people believe, or their reasons for voting against what I, and others like me, view as progress, I at least can understand where they’re coming from.
So what can I do about it?
I can have more empathy for someone who believes different things than me.
I can work harder to “know others.” Learn more about who lives in this country with me and understand their point of view.
I can read less liberally slanted news and understand more of the other side.
I can understand that I am one of the “privileged” in this country and use that privilege for the betterment of others.
I can share my beliefs openly so those who now live in fear for their marriages, safety, and lives, can have one more ally and safe space to be who they are.
I can find ways to continue the work that the Hillary campaign and the Obama administration put into motion for those groups that I support. Be a louder voice for them, provide monetary support, and continue to learn about their struggles. I have no doubt their lives will be changed much more than mine and I have to be there to help them.
I can do my best where it is safe to speak out against those things that I find to be harmful to our society – homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, ageism, among other things – and help bring some peace and connection to others.
I can use this experience as a growth challenge and work to make myself better.
There are a lot of emotions that have been aroused because of this campaign and the results, and if nothing else, it has lifted a veil from this country and we can now see each other more clearly. It is now up to us to make positive change and to move forward.
Until then, I’m going to enjoy the last few months of the Obama presidency and look forward with anticipation to January 20, 2017.