For as long as I have been politically conscious, the President of the United States has been a man I admire and respect. This figurehead's words have empowered and enlightened me. I have supported the majority of his policies; economically, internationally, and socially. I have trusted him to have the best interests of all people in his heart. There was never a doubt in my mind of his ability to lead.
Come January 20th, 2017 this will no longer be true.
It has taken me 21 days to push aside my anger, disappointment, and fear long enough to sit down, compose my thoughts rationally, and write this piece. We'll see if I can even stick it out long enough to hit publish.
At 3:00AM on November 9th, I finally slinked into bed after hours of CNN's "Key Race Alerts," all of projections made by Wolf Blitzer, and Hillary's campaign announcing they would be waiting until morning to give a speech. After very little sleep, I woke the next morning for my 8:00AM DJ shift. Sorry to the station and the talent coordinator, but I didn't do a single talk set besides announcing the music. I had no words. I was numb. I was scared. Hearing bits of Donald Trump's victory speech during the news block only caused me to spiral further downward. After my shift I went home and cried. As soon as I seemed to pull it together, I watched Hillary Clinton's concession, and the floodgates once again opened.
All day I grappled with the idea that maybe I was being dramatic. I just hadn't got my way. This was only this first presidential election I was eligible to vote in, and my candidate hadn't won. This was the first time I was politically aware of a president whose party I didn't identify with. But, no. The presidential race was about much more than democratic policies vs. republican policies. The presidential race was about more than the conservatives vs. the liberals. It was about sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and lack of human decency.
As the day went on it was impossible to ignore the somber nature across the Ithaca College campus. Without words friends and acquaintances approached me, dawning equally tired and puffy eyes, with hugs of solidarity. There was no "it is going to be okay," that is usually accompanied by an emotional support embrace. For the majority of the election season, from primary to presidential, I have been surrounded by those whose political views are in alignment with my own. Even during the democratic primaries when the Bernie Bros (okay I may have been one of them) waged war on the Clinton Crew, the basic ideologies and respect for their constituencies remained within my realm of beliefs. I've spent 15 of the past 18 months in Ithaca, NY, a liberal's paradise. It created a very altered reality for me. I was in a progressively democratic bubble, that didn't seem to pop until I watched the Pennsylvania county I grew up in turn red.
There were actually people, people I know, who support Trump.
While I knew there were Trump supporters out there (I mean, duh, he won the primary) I didn't associate them with my own social or familial circle. They were the "others." I couldn't possibly be connected with someone who agreed with his policy (or, lack there of). But I was. It baffled me. It still baffles me how this happened. I am so confused and angered at the precedent this has set for my country. Active sexual assault AND fraud investigations would disqualify most people from any job they were applying to, but somehow the president elect, the face of our nation, is exempt from these rules? His business ties alone should have been deemed a conflict of interest from day one, but here we are. I'm not going to list off other things that should have prevented him from even being on the ballot, because you've heard them. So. Many. Times.
I've stopped watching the news and try to avoid political posts on Facebook, at least for the time being. Each announcement, each tweet, makes me more and more upset. I worry for the reversal of progress. I worry for the world, having a global leader think climate change "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." I worry for my health care rights as a woman. I worry for my LGBTQ friends. I worry for every marginalized minority group who has much greater things at risk due to this election outcome than I.
Where do we go from here? How do we stay positive?
After a day of sulking I headed back to campus for two of my extra-curricular meetings, Women in Computing and Women in Communications. (Can you tell I'm all about that feminism and women empowerment thing?) It would have been easy for us to lie on the floor and accept defeat, but that does no good. Instead we (Women in Communications) watched The Women's List on Netflix.
For those of you who don't know the documentary celebrates 15 Feminist Trailblazers across various industries, from television to aviation, and everything in between. Watching this film and discussing it in a room full of women with so much potential restored my faith in the world. I felt so relieved. I was silly to think this one man was going to tear down generations of powerful and inspiring women. There are women who are willing to fight for gender equality, for racial equality, for the rights of the LGBTQ community and I am proud to be one of them. We cannot give up and accept whatever crude words or policies he (or any other member of his cabinet) decides to throw at us. We are better than this, and together we can make it through the next four years.
"This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what's right is worth it."
-Hillary Clinton, My Champion
P.S. In just 2 years there will be another election where 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be up for grabs. Let's not fuck this one up, America.