I feel compelled to write about the results of the election even though it goes off topic from my usual message about healing after divorce. I woke up on November 9th expecting to turn on the news to see that Hillary Clinton was our new president elect. I knew before I went to bed the night before that the race was unsettlingly close, but I thought there is no way Americans would allow a man like Donald Trump to lead our country.
My reaction to the reality that flashed upon the TV screen was one of shock, disbelief, disappointment, anger, despair, and fear. I was so confused and disillusioned. How could this happen? Who could vote for a man like him? I got ready for work and called my sister to try to make sense of what had just happened to our country. She and I are very close and very like-minded on many things, but she is less interested in politics and consciously chooses to not watch or listen to the news media. I totally respect that and I’m somewhere in the middle of a political junkie and a person that is slightly informed. She quickly wanted to accept the outcome and move past it, while I wanted to form a protest and possibly riot in the streets. (I’m kidding of course…maybe). I knew she was right not to let it upset me to the point of rage and anger, but she understood my need and the countries need to feel what we are feeling.
As I was driving to work, I felt like the world had shifted somehow. I felt a weight, a feeling of loss. Even though the trees that were there yesterday were as beautiful in their fall splendor as today, there was a dullness that covered my view. I passed by the same “We support Trump” sign that I’ve been wanting to run over with my car for weeks and now it had American flags surrounding it and it felt as though our country had been taken over by a foreign leadership that we were powerless against. I walked into the school where I work and I thought about the children in this world and how this would impact them and their future. Our school is the most beautiful display of color and ethnicity and filled with love and respect. I have only been there two months but it feels like family the moment you walk in the door. What sets it apart from other schools that I have worked in is the diversity of the staff. With the leadership of a kind, caring African-American woman, she has created an environment of love and acceptance. It is my utopia. A place where people of all races, religions, and sexual orientation, teach children how to be kind citizens. I wish our entire country looked like this school.
I sat at my desk and had a strange lump in my throat. I just couldn’t concentrate and shake this awful feeling of dread. I reached in to my lunch bag to grab my water and remembered I had never taken the eggs I was boiling for my salad off the stove. Shit! I left the stove on! Oh my God, my poor dog could be in a burning house right now. I ran out of the building and cursed at everyone in my way on the road. Then it occurred to me…don’t be like them. Don’t be full of hate and anger, treating everyone with disrespect. I was referring to “they” as Trump supporters. I finally arrived home to find eggs that exploded all over my stove top, but the house and my handsome pup were fine. I couldn’t believe I was so careless, but I was so upset and in a fog that I wasn’t functioning, I was numb.
I spent the rest of the day trying to process my emotions and spoke to my staff and co-workers about how it felt as though we were morning a great loss…like someone had died. For some, it was because they wanted to see the first woman president, for others it was that they were fearful about what kind of damage Trump may do in office. For me, I was upset and disappointed in the number of people in our country that could elect a man to lead our country that has done nothing but demoralize and further marginalize women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, the LGBT community and anyone else that isn’t a white male. He went as far as to make fun of disabled person, insulted an honored veteran, and brag about sexually assaulting women and still got elected? How does this happen? It happens because of the kind of people that are breading ignorance and hate. It happens because Trump supporters who claim not to be racist, passively accept and ignore it’s existence. It happens because there are people in our country that aren’t taught compassion and acceptance of all people and believe they are somehow better than everyone else. This disgrace to our nation happened because the racism and bigotry that has been bubbling under the surface for generations intensified when a black man became president, now it has risen to the top and Trump has made it socially acceptable for them to spew their hate with visceral words and attacks on fellow citizens. This is racism and sexism… and all the other fucking” isms” rearing its ugly head.
It terrifies me. It makes me feel frustrated and powerless to change people’s views. I feel a personal responsibility to make change, not just for the sake of my own bi-racial children, but for all children. I want the fear and ignorance to end. If you call yourself a Christian or a person of God and you hold fear, anger or hate towards any group of people, then you are not a Christian…you are not a person of God. God loves all of his people and you are no better than anyone just because you were born with the privilege of being white. Last time I checked white people sin just as much as the rest of them.
Later that evening, I ended up meeting some friends out that night after work and everyone was sitting around the bar watching CNN report the news on the protesting in the streets of seven major cities throughout the country. This made some of my frustration and sadness dissipate. I felt relieved that others in America felt as strongly as I do. I felt hope that young educated people where moved to action and exercise their right to protest under our constitution. They did what was right and good. They care about their fellow citizens and will raise their children to respect all people.” There is hope,” I thought.
Until I starting noticing that people in the bar weren’t happy about the protests and definitely looked like they voted for the orange baboon. I happened to be sitting next to an older gentleman that we have seen there before and he asked if we were surprised about the results this morning. I answered that I was devastated. I could quickly see that he was not upset about the outcome, so I asked him if he voted for Trump. He said, “Yes, I did but I didn’t think he would win”. I turned to him and respectfully asked him why he wanted to vote for Trump. He said the main reason was because of the gun laws that Hillary proposed. He explained that he was a proud NRA supporter and gun carrier and that he’s been shooting since he was 8 years old. I just nodded and let him continue. He said the gun laws are so strict now that it’s ridiculous. I said, “Shouldn’t it be difficult for people to buy a gun given what has happened with gun violence in our country?” He replied that the bad guys already have guns illegally and the laws just make it harder for good guys like me to buy guns. I understand that the illegal market to buy guns is a bigger problem, but I stated that having mental health screening for gun buyers should be important to all of us given what happened in Sandy Hook, CT just 45 minutes away. He came up with a stupid excuse for that, so I asked a few more questions just out of curiosity knowing this guy was not the most open-minded individual. Then my friend asked what about all the sexist, racist things Trump has said? He just shook his head and said, “Oh, I don’t care about those things.” So my friend and I got up and walked away saying, “And that’s the problem.” Sometimes you just can’t argue with stupid.
Listen, I don’t want to be like them and clump all Trump supports together. I won’t generalize and say that most of them are red-neck, under-educated, bigots who hold on to archaic beliefs and hatred. That would make me just as bad as them. I will say that it tells me a great deal about your character as a human being if you could support a man who continually insults and violates women, incites violence, openly expresses racist, homophobic rhetoric and lies about just about everything. I don’t care if you agree with his policies. He is a horrible man and doesn’t deserve to lead our beautiful country. If you support him then I already know all I need to know about you and you will never earn my respect, but I will always listen to your point of view and respect that.
Our country must come together and have thoughtful conversations about the problems we face. This has divided us as a people and we must heal what has been an opened wound since the first visitors step foot on this land. We can come together if we are willing to listen and understand. We have to stop believing the lies that the media portrays and come together face to face to see that we aren’t as different as we think we are…we just have to see past the skin color, the gender, the religious beliefs and all the things that we use as labels to divide us. We are ONE. United by love. That is my American dream.