Donald Trump is going to be the president of the United States. President Elect Donald Trump. The real estate mogul, reality TV star, rich white guy from NY is the populist champion for the struggling working class folk of middle America. Huh? What is happening here? For a year, my husband or I would shake our head in frustration or disbelief of the things he and his supporters were saying, and the other one would comfort the other by saying, “he’s not going to win.” What is there to say now?
Today I felt sad. Sad, angry, frustrated, scared. Lots of feelings. I went to the gym in a daze. I consciously maintained a happy demeanor around my son and was grateful he is too young to understand these things. It was raining today which I thought was fitting. Tonight I try to organize my thoughts.
I have three main worries about a Trump presidency. First, foreign relations. Donald Trump in the White House decreases our reliability with the rest of the world. In my crude understanding of international politics predictability is key. If the rest of the world is not assured that we will act within a set of standards, there is no stability or protection. I am also very wary of Donald Trump’s weird love affair with Russia. For example, his second debate remarks on Syria could have been written by the Kremlin.
Next, of course I worry about the supreme court. I can only hope that his claims to appoint justices that will repeal roe/wade and overturn marriage equality was just pandering to his base. But with a republican majority in house and senate I can’t imagine them confirming anyone less conservative.
Lastly, I am so saddened by the American electorate who either explicitly identified with racist, xenophobic, sexist, divisive rhetoric, or did not find it troublesome enough to outweigh a nebulous suggestion of economic change. I am scared that a Trump win validates these viewpoints and will fan the flames to the point of conflagration.
It seems a large proportion of Trump voters were duped. “Truthiness” won out. It’s a stretch that any rich celebrity would give a crap about their livelihood and well-being, but Donald Trump in particular has shown time and again that his self-interests are his primary drive. I am angry at Trump voters and ashamed for our country. I’ve called them a lot of names- dumb, bigoted, xenophobic, selfish, hateful, short-sighted. Deplorable. But half our country voted for him. Half our country thought a Trump presidency was the best option. In truth, I think most of them are good people, albeit misguided. Their fears, hopes, and barriers bear serious consideration. It’s easy to coast comfortably in my middle class, northeast, educated, progressive bubble forgetting that life is very different for others around the country. Although I have doubts that many Trump voters (or Republicans as a whole) often do the same.
I am far more dismayed that Trump won than that Clinton lost. Yet I still sharply felt the disappointment of losing the opportunity for the first woman president. It wasn’t until the day of the election that the momentousness of the first female president really set in. By the time the votes started to roll in, I was so proud and pumped that America would be electing a woman to be its leader. Ironically, Donald Trump set the stage for my girl power pride. His public transgressions against women really got me thinking over the last few months about how widespread and ingrained sexism is. It made me think about the times in my life that I was objectified, not taken seriously, or put in danger because of my gender. Between clients on Tuesday, I read stories on Facebook from women around the country whose support of Hillary Clinton was so deeply personal- the mom-to-be who was forced to sit through unnecessary ultrasounds and counseling before her D & E when she lost her last pregnancy, the firefighter who was harassed on the job from day one, the mother of the little girl who assured her mom that she would be president one day.
As the states started to be called, I felt guilty that I could have done more. I should have been more outspoken. I could have been making phone calls to people in Michigan and Wisconsin to tell them to get their butts to the polls. I could have donated. I could have made my voice heard online. I was a lukewarm Hillary supporter, so I sort of kept my head down. I viewed her as the boring insider, the one who benefited from playing the system so fully that she became the system. It wasn’t until the third debate, I think, that I started to see Clinton as the inspiring person that she is. I am awed by her intellect, tenacity, and nerves of steal. I find myself thinking through personal challenges with her in mind. WWHRCD?
I am finding solace in all the wrong places. I say to myself “Nothing ever changes anyway. He won’t be able to do anything.” Or “Now he has to pony up on all of his ridiculous claims. Good luck building that wall.” I take a bit of solace in the fact that we have no idea what he’s going to do or what kind of president he will be. Somehow Donald Trump made it through over a year of campaigning without actually answering how he would enact the few policies he actually proposed. If you’re the stock market this uncertainty is a bad thing. But next to the horrors conjured up in our collective imagination I’ll take a question mark.
One actual solace is that the system (mostly) works. We just witnessed another peaceful transfer of power. A large group of frustrated citizens made their voices heard without bloodshed. Obviously there are flaws in our system (electoral college, I’m looking at you), but we have a process in this country and it ran its course. We have checks and balances, freedom of speech, and presidential term limits to hopefully limit the damage.
Truly we do not know what the next four years will hold. Trump’s acceptance speech was a series of motivational posters about teamwork and unity. It seems like right now everyone is saying what they are supposed to be saying. It’s not very telling. Those of us who feel that this is a dark period for our country have to be vigilant and outspoken. Just as importantly, we have to embody the positivity we hope will not die out.
This election has boosted my conviction to represent my beliefs more brazenly. Personally, my goal is twofold: to bravely call out racism, sexism, antisemitism, islamaphobia, and to create kindness wherever an opportunity arises. Both require a simultaneous increase in confidence and decrease in ego. We are all a work in progress, individually and collectively.