What the Outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election Means to Me

November 9, 7:00 AM
Me: Honey, I have some bad news.
Son: Donald Trump won!?
Me: Yes...
Son: (gasping) But why? He’s a dummy and he’s mean!

***

I don’t typically write about politics on Red Shutters. This isn’t that kind of blog, I’ve thought. But, if I have learned anything this past week, it’s that I have a responsibility to speak up.

I’m starting now.

I’ve voted in every presidential election since I turned 18, and never have I been as devastated with the outcome as I was last week. (And, I was upset in 2000.) I’ve spent the last week commiserating with friends, sitting shiva for the Clinton Presidency that never was, and assuring my kids that their friends who are African-American, Latino, Indian, Chinese, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu won’t have to leave the country (though, heartbreakingly, I can’t promise that they will be safe under a Trump presidency).

2016 presidential electionMy view of America has been challenged profoundly with this election. While I have had my share of sexist comments thrown my way over the years (what woman hasn’t?), I really believed America was a place where a qualified woman could win the highest elected office—especially when she was running against a thrice-married unqualified man who hadn’t paid taxes in years and who had a history of spouting sexist, racist, homophobic, and xenophobic insults.

But the challenge of living in the bluest of the blue states was that my bubble of naiveté and privilege was strong and all-encompassing. I was blind to how many people were angry and frustrated, wanting change—no matter how repulsive the person who purported to offer it was. I was naive to how many people couldn’t accept a woman as president. I didn’t anticipate that many people —MILLIONS of people, it turned out—would abdicate their right to vote, letting approximately 25% of the eligible electorate vote in Trump. I didn’t see that there would be a deep backlash to eight years of an African-American president, no matter how much he accomplished.

And, so here we are, in a country with a newly elected president whose leadership team consists of his children, leaders of the alt-right movement, and Washington insiders looking to roll back laws to protect our environment and reproductive rights. We have a newly elected president who doesn’t seem so keen on the job, and who doesn’t seem ready to run our country. The future, while never certain, seems more tenuous, more fragile, than ever before.

By electing Trump, we’ve told the world and our children—oh, especially our children—that insulting one another is acceptable, that fear and intimidation are acceptable, that harassing people because of their faith or skin color is acceptable.

I’m sad—angry and scared, too—that Hillary Clinton didn’t win. Yet I respect our democratic process (though, if you know of a good analysis of why we still have the Electoral College, please send it my way). When I broke the news of a Trump presidency to my kids, I told them that this is what it means to live in a democracy: sometimes, your candidate wins; sometimes, your candidate loses. But you don’t give up—or move to Canada. You continue to work for what you believe in, and you support people doing good works in your community and in your country. You speak up for people who are picked on, disenfranchised, and singled out for mistreatment. You educate yourself about issues. Maybe you even run for office. You continue to believe in your country. You listen to one another. You treat everyone with respect and kindness.

So, that’s where I am, the week after the presidential election of 2016. I’m dissatisfied, angry, sad, scared. I’m also motivated to educate myself and my family so we can be supporters of change, and I’m uncompromising in my vision of an America that is built upon hope and possibility.

***

I’ve read so much about the election and its aftermath; it’s been hard to keep up. The following are some pieces I have found helpful:

And, for an insightful, razor-sharp response to the election, consider:

And, finally, a call to action from my kickass senator, Elizabeth Warren:

One Response
  1. December 11, 2016