Two weeks ago, the 2016 election ended with a loud "BANG" that certain people loved and others felt as keenly as an explosion of an oxygen tank on a space ship.
My side lost. My candidate was former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom I believed, and still believe, to be
the best qualified to run the country in a manner that I expect - one with
dignity, grace, and compassion. While it is hardly the first time my candidate
didn’t win, it is the first time I've been completely appalled by the dangerous
ideas and mannerisms of the victor.
I do not expect much dignity from the
winner, Donald Trump. He has no title to put before his name aside from that of
"mister." I managed to call George W. Bush "President Bush"
out of respect for the office, but I will have a very hard time swallowing the
words "President Trump." (I know, get over it.)
Some have called this a race between
"elites" and rural America. The elites apparently live on the coast
(and have college degrees). But this is dishonest, because we are all Americans, regardless of where we live. Rural and white
working-class Americans need to take responsibility for themselves and now for
their vote. What I experience here in Appalachian Virginia is no less real than
what another person experiences in the ghettoes of San Francisco. The fact that
I know more about the country than some of my neighbors is my choice, just as
their lack of knowledge about the rest of the world is theirs. Rural America needs to travel more, see more of the
country itself. They need to see the diversity that is this nation, and not
just gripe because more of it is showing up on television.
If I learned anything from this
election, it is that we all need to better understand one another and
ourselves. We need to understand that there is no us and them - there is just
us. And we have no excuses.
Many of my friends and acquaintances
supported Trump. I don't think they understood the shock I felt with this
election. They do not understand that their vote informed me that they care
more about hatred and division than they do about the rights and welfare of
human beings. That change is not welcome. That empathy is just a word.
In these days since the election, I have
tried to figure out how to write something about our new America that would not
also offend the people who voted for Mr. Trump. I did not stick my head in a bubble
during the election - I watched him campaign and I watched the debates. I read
the 2016 Republican Party Platform (did you?) and the 2016 Democrat Party
What I saw led me to find Trump grossly
offensive, scary, undignified, un-American, greedy, arrogant, pompous, asinine,
egotistic, and infantile (among other things). From what I have read, to write
such things gives offense to those who voted for him, because apparently to
think that of their choice also means they think I think they have those
traits. I don't think that. But did they not watch the same things I did on TV?
My county went over 70% for the
Republican, as it always has, and I know many people who voted for this man. I
do not understand why they did - we have a high median income of $63,000, we're
mostly white and relatively affluent, so it's not because they want their jobs
back in the coal mines - but I do not think that all of them are the things I
said above. Some of them are, of course. But generally speaking, my neighbors
are nice people who mostly stick to themselves, attend their church, spend time
with their friends, and bake a pie when somebody dies. They are not bad people.
Maybe they voted against Clinton because they believed her to be "Crooked
Hillary," as Trump so childishly (and skillfully) named her. I gave up
calling people names when I was in elementary school, so that was yet another
strike against their candidate as far as I was concerned. I wanted a grown-up
to be president, not the bully who lived on the other side of the tracks in the
golden mansion on the hill.
I still think of my neighbors as my
neighbors. I always have. But I am no longer sure what it is they think of me.
When I am told to get over it and move on, I am hearing that my feelings do not
matter. When I am told we must all join together, I have to wonder where that
mantra has been during the last eight years of President Obama's
administration. When I am told to give Mr. Trump a chance - which I will, as I
have no choice - I hear that person saying that all of the things Mr. Trump
said and did (and is still doing) are things they applaud - that they can
overlook misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia - maybe because that is easier
than looking and listening to what the man they have elected really says.
Mr. Trump ran a campaign based on fear.
He approved of violence. I was horrified when he said he could shoot someone
and not lose a vote. Apparently, he was right. He boasted about grabbing women
because he could. He told people at his rallies that if they hurt someone, he
would pay their legal fees. He offered a blatant and offensive description of a
9-month "abortion" (what we normally call a caesarean section) and
people believed that this happens (it doesn't). He divided and hated, and offered
no respect for women, veterans, tradition, the law, our history, or the office
he will hold in January.
It felt like he was playing some kind of
game. But running for president is not the same as being on a reality show.
This is not TV. This is real life. This man wants to create a country where
fear is the chief emotion. That's not what I want for my life, or anyone
When one person told me she voted for
Mr. Trump because "evangelicals forgive," I had to wonder about the
selectiveness of that forgiveness. I remembered all the hatred that Secretary
of State Clinton endured, along with congressional inquiries and
investigations, all of which turned up absolutely nothing. Chanting "lock
her up" and calling her "Killary" doesn't seem very forgiving to
me. Those insinuations and that muck they threw at her stuck, and, apparently
was more unforgiveable than the nauseating lines that fell from Mr. Trump's
mouth. I am glad for you if you are ok with what is happening to our nation,
but I don't see how you can call it Christian.
My neighbors are not bad people. I
believe they voted with the best of intentions. They are hoping he will get
"stuff" done, even if they don't know what that stuff is. I believe
they think that the worst of Mr. Trump does not represent them. But still, my
pie-baking neighbors supported him, for whatever reason. And with that support,
these well-intentioned Americans have given power to hate. The KKK held a
victory parade, and they helped make that parade happen. So those who voted for
Mr. Trump now have a responsibility, not only to me, but to themselves, to hold
him to a higher standard. If his rhetoric does not reflect the people they
think they are, then my neighbors must tell Mr. Trump that they disagree with
his statements on women. They must speak up so that people are treated honorably and
decently, regardless of who they are. I hope my neighbors prove that they are who they say they are,
and demand that he stop his dangerous rhetoric. I hope they tell him they are not OK with
hate-filled speech and fear-mongering.
I, for one, am not ok. And I am not
simply disappointed that my candidate lost. Had my candidate lost to a worthy
opponent - Jeb Bush, say - I would be unhappy, but I wouldn't be horrified. I
would not be feeling so . . . less than. And if I, a privileged white woman, feel like this, I can only begin to imagine what more marginalized people are feeling. Nothing good, I suppose.
I have never really fit in here, in this
land of my forefathers. It hurts to have such deep ties to a place where I do
not belong. It bothers me that the soil I walk upon was planted and tilled by
my many-great grandparents, that my roots go back to the American Revolution,
and I feel like I am not welcome on my own turf. This turf is more mine than
most, really, aside from those First Nation Native Americans that we so
unkindly drove out.
Now I am afraid. I fear this Republican
president, and the things the Republican Party now stands for. This political
party has been waging a war against women for decades. With a majority in the
House and Senate, and their demagogue president rapidly placing white
supremacists in his transition team and handing out cabinet posts like awards
for good behavior for panting followers, I think we are in for a very rough
The Republican Platform keeps changing -
Trump said he would keep our "entitlements" intact but Paul Ryan has
other ideas - so it is hard to know what will happen. The copy I have of the
Republican Platform is dated November 9, 2016. I printed it out the day after
the election. Aside from a lot of rambling about the terrible things the
Republicans think President Barrack Obama has done, a few issues stand out. (1)
Repeal the 16 Amendment of the Constitution, which establishes the federal
income tax; (2) change labor laws and support of "right to work"
laws; (3) removal of the minimum wage; (4) appoint Supreme Court justices who
would reverse "activist decisions" (what those are); (5) not
recognize international agreements; (6) giving fetuses the same rights as a
person; (7) repeal the Fairness Doctrine (already removed from the language of
the FCC in 2011 - they need to catch up); (8) oppose euthanasia and assisted
suicide; (9) oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods; (10)
elimating the EPA Waters of the United States rules; (11) eliminate the EPA
regulations on the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act; (12) convey all
federally controlled public lands to the states; (13) complete the Keystone
Pipeline and all others; (14) not act on climate change concerns; (15) remove
species from the Endangered Species Act so oil and gas production can move
forward; (16) halt funding to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change;
(17) change Social Security (current retirees and those close to retirement can
be assured of their benefits) (you're out of luck if you're born after 1960, is
what I'm hearing); (18) building a wall along the southern border and
protecting all ports of entry (nobody mentioned a wall along Canada, but
perhaps that is coming); (19) no funding for "sanctuary cities," (not
defined); (20) impeachment of the head of the IRS; (21) repeal of the Johnson
Amendment, which prohibits political speech by nonprofits (including churches);
(22) reduce public relations departments of all federal agencies; (23) remove
federal regulations from the EPA, the Department of Health and Human Services,
the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board, and Dodd-Frank
laws; (24) reinstate Glass-Steagall; (25) unequivocal support for Israel; (26)
participation in the United Nations contingent upon sovereign American
leadership, and many other things.
I haven't read the updated document, but
this is what was there for all to see before the vote. Additionally, I heard
Mr. Trump say in various forums that he would create an enforcement process to
remove all undocumented immigrants (about 11 million people); ban the entry of
immigrants, specifically Muslims; implement surveillance programs targeting
certain religious and ethnic groups; restrict a woman’s right to abortion
services (and put women who have abortions in jail); reauthorize water
boarding; and change libel laws in order to restrict freedom of expression.
Nothing different has come to my
attention, and these unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American proposals
appear to still be on Mr. Trump's golden table. Not all of the Republican
platform is bad - reinstating Glass-Steagall is a good idea. The rest, though,
allows corporations to bulldoze through wherever they want and pay you whatever
they want. I am not sure how any of this platform is going to help anyone's
economic reality, except the guy who owns the bulldozer company, maybe, but I
guess we will find out.
To be sure, I do not want to find out.
This is a nightmare for me. I suffer from PTSD for numerous reasons, many of
them having to do with my treatment as a woman at the hands of dastardly men in
the workplace, and I have found Trump to be a trigger for emotional and mental
health issues. He makes me feel like I have been kicked in the stomach, because
he comes across to me as a bully who would just as soon slap me down and stomp
on me as treat me like a human being. I will have a difficult time dealing with
someone in power who leaves me with that impression every time he opens his
mouth. And honestly, I will have a difficult time dealing with my neighbors who
laud the actions of someone who has ridiculed people with disabilities and
vowed to put certain people on watch or registration lists. How can people
applaud anyone who thinks that some people are more worthy than others, unless
they think that, too? How can they support someone whose main goal in life is
to yell "You're fired" and make money off the backs of every one he
comes into contact with? How is this the person they have selected as leader of
this country? It will be hard for me to see that they are not accessories to an
abuser and bully, no matter how many pies they bake.
I did want to see history made. I wanted
our country to finally move forward with women's issues, instead of remaining
stalled where we have for most of my adult life. I wanted a female president. I
cried when I cast my ballot for her; it was a historic moment in my life and in
the lives of millions of other women. I freely admit that I was excited to have
a woman in the White House. But I also wanted a president who was kind,
compassionate, and thoughtful. Clinton did not run the campaign she needed to
run. I watched multiple "live feed" events of town-hall type meetings
where she met with people, talking to them and answering their questions with
thoughtful responses. She had a policy plan for everything. I knew what she
wanted to do about everything and I had no trouble finding an answer on the DNC
website if I had a question. The Republic Platform was hellacious reading and
Trump had no plan, except that it would be a good plan - trust him.
But Clinton never showed that beautiful,
compassionate side to the nation as whole, and the media (which is right wing,
and has been for two decades, and don't argue with me, I'm a damn journalist
and I know what I'm talking about - the folks who yell the loudest have named
it "liberal" simply because good journalism deals with facts, not
fantasy) gave Trump loads of free publicity. The evening news would show Trump
at a rally, his hands waving while he spouted off something guaranteed to bring
him coverage, and then the news reporter would say, "and Clinton said thus
and so" at a rally wherever. She was almost always the throw-away remark,
the effort to be fair tossed in, but her words, language, and message were
seldom carried across.
Maybe she should have bought TV time in
the 7 p.m. hours, when they usually have informercials on Saturday nights. In
any event, she did not connect to the loudest and most vocal segment of the
population - though SHE WON THE POPULAR VOTE. I find solace in that - I am not
The person my neighbors have elected as
leader devalues, dehumanizes, and deems others as less than worthy of safety,
civil liberties, or citizenship. He makes fun of people, for God's sake. What
kind of leader makes fun of others? What kind of man does that?
I am all about inclusion, tolerance, and
equality. Or at least I thought I was, and I have always tried to live my life
like that. If you want to live your life a certain way, that's your business,
not mine. Go to church if you want to. So long as you aren't forcing your
beliefs on me, I have no quarrel with you. That is why I don't know what to say
or think about the people who surround me, in this land that is no longer my
home but is the place where I live. I want to think and believe that these
people see me as equal. I want to believe that they really don't want to force
me to be something I am not. That I am not "less than" because I am
female, because I have a college degree, because I somehow have become,
apparently, part of "the elite" that some criticize. That they
tolerate me, too.
Now I am not so sure of any of that.
Now, actually, I feel like my neighbors don't care for me at all. With their
vote, they implicitly acknowledge that they see me as less - because I am
female, because I am well-educated, because I could not have children, because
I don't attend their church. I have been re-traumatized by this election, by
the coarse language of our newly elected leader, his objectification of women,
his disdain for those who are different. How could a country that once vilified
Howard Dean because he made some kind of weird yell into a microphone condone
the actions of this man? Why didn't his display against the disabled - that one
action alone - not disqualify him?
Are we really that two-faced?
The day after the election, I stayed off
Facebook, but I still saw the gloating. I heard about the KKK marches, the
swastikas, the "not my president" marches in major cities. I don't
believe in violence of any kind from any side, so there I was, caught, because
I supported the marches but not any violence. It seems, though, we cannot have
gatherings of people anymore without violence following. So I stayed home,
stayed off social media, stayed quiet, and in pain. Deep, emotional, raw,
physical, cuttingly horrendous pain.
Nothing in the last two weeks has made
this any better. The transition seems to be moving in the direction of a White
Supremacist's dream - do that many people in my county secretly want to belong
to the KKK? Trump has not made any apologies, nor will he. He will move forward
in a direction that I think ultimately will dismay even his supporters, those
who still have a modicum of decorum about them, anyway. He is going to
"shake things up." Does anybody know exactly how he plans to do that?
Because other than turning the United States into a glittering white-faced pile
of racist and misogynistic goo, I don't know what he hopes to achieve.
Apparently he thinks he will tweet us all into submission.
I am saddened, but not surprised, by
this outcome. I have known for a long time that people are unhappy. Working
families have been ignored by Washington, D.C. for 30 years. A friend of mine
wrote a book, Factory Man, which foretold this election's outcome. The book
showed how people lost jobs, how they now work longer hours for less wages, how
the good jobs go to other countries. They know that chief executives make 300
times what they do and that more than half of all new income goes to the top 1
percent. Corporations have sucked the life out of many rural towns, leaving
stores closed and families bereft because the kids have to go elsewhere to
work. Mr. Trump offered change, but unknown change - especially one wrapped
around a flag of fear and despair - scares me more than the status quo would
The election of an eugenics-loving white
supremacist gave hope to hate. I am sorry that people who disagree with science
and men who believe women want to stay home, barefoot and pregnant, feel
marginalized. But that kind of emotional deliberation doesn't belong in the 21st
century. Those are the voices of the 19th and early 20th century, and they are
100 years behind.
As I try to edge back into the world, I
keep seeing videos of people yelling at minorities. Misogynistic jerks have
appeared out of nowhere, their voices emboldened by the election of someone who
thinks grabbing a woman without her permission is perfectly fine. So all of
these angry young white men think that now they can molest my niece, my young
cousins - maybe even an old limping lady like me. I hear that I am supposed to
"get over it" and accept it, as if I never knew what was going on
around me. I've had my eyes open all my life, and I have a general idea,
probably more than most, how people live. As a journalist, I have been in many
homes. I know people are hurting, but I don't think taking away social
lifelines is the way to go about securing their health and happiness. If
religious groups were so good at helping people, the government would never
have had to step in in the first place.
I didn't realize, though, that my
neighbors would be willing to burn the country to the ground in order to take
away my personal civil liberties, and that of other people. I never thought
they would elect an unqualified man who has skin as thin as spiders' webs, a man
who dehumanizes women and considers them his personal toys.
What am I to do?
First, I have to remember I am not
alone. Even in my little red county, I am not alone. Somewhere out here, about
8,000 people agree with me. Just because I don't know who they are doesn't mean
they aren't there. And millions more, all over this country, and billions of
others around the globe, think the same way. Even many Republicans are not fans
of their new leader.
Then, I write stuff like what I'm
writing now. It's the only way I know to fight back. I may fear subjecting my
beat-up soul to the spit and hatred of people in parking lots, but I'm not
exactly helpless. And when my kindly neighbors tell me to calm down, I shall
have to remind them that from day one, the Republican Party has obstructed
everything the Democrats and President Obama attempted to do. They rioted in
the streets when Mr. Obama was elected, just like the liberals are doing now.
They didn't calm down. They dug down, and they fought dirty. All Obama wanted
to do was help people and give some folks their civil rights. Now? Now I am
afraid of losing rights. There is a big difference there - the Republicans had
only to fear that people would gain something they didn't want them to have.
Now the Democrats have to fear the loss of the things we already have.
What else can I do? Write checks. I live
in a white bubble, and while we're not in the top 10 percent of wealth or
anything, we will likely be okay, even with the loss of our Social Security and
Medicare (we'll just die younger, I suppose, than we might have otherwise). I
am not physically able to go march on Washington, but I can support groups that
will do the heavy lifting for me.
I should also look into programs that
encourage voting. When 47 percent of registered voters do not vote, something
is wrong. Basically that means 1/4 of the people elected this foul-mouthed man
as our president. Those are statistics that need to change. Is there still a
League of Women Voters out there?
Maybe I can mentor a younger woman, or
some other woman who feels alone here. And I will support women as much as I
can, those who have started businesses here, perhaps. I can buy from
women-owned businesses online. I can avoid companies that have low glass
ceilings. Because ultimately, in this country, money talks.
I can actively try to make the world a
better place, whether that's learning something new about climate change,
working to understand what the hell just happened, or speaking up for people
who can't speak up for themselves. And if Mr. Trump proposes something that I
can support - infrastructure rebuilding, perhaps - then I will support it.
However, I don't know how to do all of that yet. But I will do my best to
figure it out.