I’d planned to finish up and post a movie review today, but at the moment I’m too heartsick to work on it. I haven’t even decided if I’m going to post whatever I’m writing here or not: I’m not going to say anything original that people haven’t already said, or said better, or will say better in the upcoming days. I don’t have anything inspirational to add, any advice to share, any comfort to offer. I just feel sick and frightened and bitterly disappointed in my country. I knew that no matter who won, we had a lot of work to do because this election has revealed a level of misogyny, racism, ignorance, and hatred that I had never imagined was so staggeringly high. I knew better than to start celebrating before the vote was in because I had already made the mistake of thinking Donald Trump could never be the Republican Presidential Nominee, and I learned from that. But call it naivety, call it privilege, call it delusion or hope or all of the above: I thought Hillary Clinton would most likely win. I thought we would finally have the first female president. I thought my country wouldn’t run so willingly into such an unmitigated racist, sexist, xenophobic, and economic disaster.
And yet. Here we are.
I’m better off than a lot of Americans. My Mexican ancestry is important to me personally, but I’m white, was raised white, occasionally fail at yoga like any good white girl, and no one has ever discriminated against me based off the color of my pale ass skin. I’m agnostic, and that’s led to some tense conversations, certainly, but I’m also Californian, so not being a Christian isn’t a total anomaly, either. I’ve experienced some angry people who have questioned my morality, but I’ve never been persecuted because of my faith or lack thereof; no one targets me, or throws me off airplanes because I’m saying or looking at things they don’t understand. I’m not rich, but I’m lucky enough to have a great paying job with exceptional health benefits, so even though my finances are about to take a hit because of an unexpected move and a dramatic raise in rent, I will probably still be fine unless the economy gets so awful that I get laid off. (Which, to be fair, is now a consideration.) I’m a woman, so a president who brags about grabbing women by the pussy, has been accused of multiple sexual assaults, and who panders to alt-right voters by lying about full-term abortions (a thing that does not exist) does genuinely and legitimately terrify me on a personal level . . . but again, white, which absolutely does NOT mean I’m safe but does mean I’m safer than pretty much any non-white woman in this country.
The stuff that’s really Other about me, that most people don’t understand and that I very seldom talk about, is invisible. Invisible differences can be a huge weight sometimes, because even your most enlightened friends–and friends, I’m not talking about anyone specifically–who seem to hold their arms open to everyone will still often say something that hurts or belittles you and your experience . . . but at the same time, because no one can see those differences, no one is actively trying to harm you because of them, either. No one will send me to conversion therapy. My civil liberties will probably remain mostly intact. No one will fire or evict me for being different. I won’t be arrested or killed for being unusual.
I’m better off than so, so many Americans. But I find that I’m still frightened, for myself, for my friends and family who are less privileged and/or less invisible, and for my country as a whole . . . because, Jesus, what comes next?
The problem, I think, with political rhetoric and hyperbole in general is that everyone gets so used to ignoring it that no one believes it’s real when it actually comes to pass. Like, it’s always The Boy Who Cried Wolf, right? Everyone gets called or compared to a Nazi at some point, everyone from morally bankrupt politicians to people who are just particular about their grammar, so when people start accurately saying, “Hey, remember Germany?” there are so many people who don’t actually believe it. There are so many who say, “Everyone always says that, and nothing terrible actually happens. This isn’t the end of the country. Stop being so dramatic just because your side lost.”
I have voted for president four times in my life. My first ever vote, at 18, was for John Kerry. I voted twice for Barack Obama, and then once for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, I’m a Democrat through and through, and I was disappointed when Kerry lost, but I also wasn’t devastated. I was excited when Obama won the first time and certainly relieved when he won the second, but I never thought the whole country would be destabilized if he lost, either. Tonight?
I burst into tears twice tonight. Once when it seemed certain that Donald Trump was close to winning, and once when I actually saw the words: “Donald Trump won the presidency.” I never expected to cry so hard because “the other side” won. I never expected to be this upset, this scared, or this fucking angry. I’m angry at everybody who voted for Trump, especially other white women–because the majority of us did, and I’ve never been so fucking ashamed. I’m angry at anyone who refused to vote when they legally and physically could have, and anyone who threw their vote away on a third-party candidate because they chose philosophy over actual lives. I’m angry at anyone in the media who acted like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were equally flawed candidates. I’m angry at James Comey and his Hail Mary email scandal, which shouldn’t even have been a fucking story, and I’m angry at all the Republicans who went along with Trump because they were too scared to stop this when it could have been stopped.
And I want to channel this energy into something positive, something active, something that will actually help somebody in some practical way, but I don’t know how to do that. I do not know what to do.
Honestly, I don’t even know what the best outcome could be. I’ve seen some liberal friends comforting themselves by saying how Trump will just be a figurehead, how he won’t have any real power and how it will be all his VP and Cabinet and staff actually running the country . . . and yes, that is a comfort if that means no one will actually listen to Trump when he says, “Go nuke that country because I’m having a fucking tantrum.” That might mean in 2020, every country–including America–will actually literally still be here. That might mean we have a chance to get our country back.
But it also means that the country will be run with no checks and balances by a Republican Senate, a Republican House, a Republican Supreme Court–which was never fucking appropriately filled–and VP Mike Pence, a man who’s actively fought AGAINST Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, marriage equality, accepting Syrian refugees, and a path to citizenship in general, and FOR any common sense gun control, conversion therapy, mandatory funerals for fetuses, the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, and God knows what else I’m forgetting right now. Lives will be ruined. Lives will be lost. This is not rhetoric; it’s not acceptable, and it’s not okay. Maybe Trump won’t actively be running the country, but even in that scenario, the cost is too fucking high. (And do we really want to underestimate him now? Do we really want to assume he won’t do every destructive thing he can possibly do just because he can?)
I want to wrap this up with a positive message, some sort of practical advice, but I just don’t have any. I don’t know what to do. At this point, at this hour, I’m not sure there’s much I can do, so I’m here, writing this for myself, and taking a big fucking breath, before diving back into my feminist horror story re-write because even if it can’t help anyone, even if our orange-skinned President Nazi Wolf is actually here . . . at least I can feel a little better writing about some badass young women violently tearing some shit down.
I’m sorry, anyone who actually reads all this. It’s all I’ve got right now.