I promised myself that I’d hold back from writing anything political on this blog, for fear of dividing my readership, but last night the results of this election sliced through me in a visceral, painful way. When I woke up, I tainted every room I walked through with sobs of disbelief, but after I sat with it for a while I realized that part of the reason this happened is because of complacency. So here, I fight with the strongest weapon I have in my arsenal: my words.
Before last year I identified as a straight, white, middle-class woman, so apart from my gender I was fairly privileged. Over the last 20 months, by realizing I am a member of a marginalized, minority community, I have become a more compassionate person. A better person. I still attempt to attract listening ears with honey rather than vinegar, but this election has hardened me as I’ve watched that bitter, painful to swallow vinegar take over our country.
The news that Donald Trump was elected President shook me to my very core. The only emotion I managed to feel all morning was fear. Fear for the future of our planet. Fear for the future of our country. Fear for the future of our children. Fear for the future of minorities. Fear for the future of my family as a unit. Fear for the future of my own place here and the state of the open mind, positive temperament, and sympathetic heart I’ve always been able to maintain, because my fear has begun to translate into a deep hurt and a bubbling anger.
My social media timelines were sprinkled with positive sentiments and frustrated comments encouraging people to either unite themselves and come together, or to get over it, accept the results, and stop whining. These comments struck me in an unexpected way. My world as I knew it had just shattered around me and people want me to just get over it? How does an LGBT person who doesn’t know how many years left of marriage equality they’ll get to enjoy just get over it? How does an immigrant child whose parents are now likely to be deported just come together with someone who wants to build a wall? How does a parent of an unarmed child who was murdered because of racial stereotypes just accept the results? And how does a woman who has been raped, sexually assaulted, or even harassed or cat-called in the office just stop “whining” about waking up in a nation who has decided it doesn’t care about these things as long as their insurance deductibles are low and their taxes don’t get raised?
Claiming that you voted for Trump because he’s “the lesser of two evils” or “anti-establishment” or “a symbol of change” isn’t an excuse. Sending a messing to Washington isn’t an excuse. Insisting you’re not racist, homophobic, xenophobic, or bigoted doesn’t absolve you from the blame of what’s to come. This morning a kindergartener was told by one of her classmates that she would be sent away because Trump was President now and he would deport people like her. A young child told another, “Mr. Trump is President but he doesn’t like people with disabilities.” A teenager was told by two girls that she needed to start sitting in the back of the bus. Members of (or those who want to be members and had dressed as such) were photographed standing on a bridge in North Carolina. Swastikas and Nazi propaganda was written on windows in Philadelphia.
This is the America we have chosen to live in as a result of an election where people claimed they just wanted a tax break and the repeal of Obamacare. If Donald Trump for some reason is unable to perform his duties, a man named Mike Pence who is a proponent of electric shock therapy and conversion camps for those on the LGBT community would be our President. Letting this sink in very nearly broke my spirit. Those are the long-term consequences. The short-term ones involved the decision I have to make to sit at the dinner table across from family members who proudly voted for this man. This man who aims to take away my rights and the civil rights of so many others in order to ensure they and anyone who, mental health issues or not, can buy a gun whenever and wherever they want. How do I do that? How do we do that? We the people have spoken, and we have decided that hate in our country is acceptable. We have just chosen a leader who mocks the disabled, sexually objectifies and assaults women, and discriminates against anyone who isn’t a white, straight man. We have just made the choice to raise our children in a country where this is not just acceptable, but preferred, because you can be President if you act like this.
My fiance’s daughter learned that Hillary lost this morning, and she was saddened by the idea that “a girl like her” wasn’t going to be President, but that maybe she could be next time. She also said that Donald Trump and his friends must just need to have more love in their hearts. As 2016 comes to a close and a new, terrifying chapter in history begins, I hope that she doesn’t lose that sense of enlightenment and optimism, and I hope that we can find a way to have more love in our hearts. Until then, do not go gentle unto that good night.