At this point, I’m hardly the first to add my voice to the dialogue started by this week’s election — in fact, it feels like I might be one of the last. I decided to take a beat to absorb the weight of the last two days before making any sort of bigger statement. I’ve laid low on social media, alternating between trying to stay away from it entirely and then obsessively scrolling through my feeds trying to make sense of every post, relate to every opinion. I’ve spent the last two nights – each emotional in a very different way — surrounded by friends who feel like family, drinking wine, crying, and having intense conversations about what it means to be in our mid-twenties in these crazy times. We talked until it felt like we had genuinely stepped back and looked at things from every angle. My brain hurts from spending so much of the last two days thinking.
Yesterday was the first day in almost two months that I’ve HATED working from home and spending so much time alone. All of the news from late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning was so raw. I stayed up all night to watch the election coverage, so when I woke up yesterday morning (after just an hour or two of sleep), I initially decided that I needed a total break from the media. The problem is that I was by myself and felt incredibly disconnected in the midst of such an historic moment. It seemed like I had no choice but to turn on the news again, just to check back into humanity. As soon as I did, I couldn’t turn it off.
I know I’m not the only one who feels like there’s been a bizarre shift in time and space. Life here in my sweet little Brooklyn feels like it’s moving in slow motion. Everything just seems surreal, and I’m comforted by the fact that so many others also aren’t quite ready to be OK just yet.
This is not a space where I want to get too deep about ideology and political affiliation. I have too much respect for everyone’s freedom of opinion for that, and I think that one of the biggest lessons of these last two days for all of us is that sometimes, what happens in “politics” has absolutely nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican. Some of the people I care about most in this world are Republicans. While it’s never fun to be on the losing end of something, under other circumstances, it would have been a lot easier for me — and many other people, I’m sure — to accept the results of this election and move on.
All that I really want to say is this:
What upsets and worries me about recent events is the way it has empowered hatred and negativity in our world. Do I think that every person who voted for Donald Trump is extreme or hateful or negative? No. Although there may be plenty of more moderate conservatives out there who voted for Trump simply to align with their party, I think the real problem here is the ugliness that his campaign has brought to light, and the way it seems like that ugliness is now somehow acceptable because he has been elected our president. Hate begets hate, and my greatest fear is that this week’s results have changed the course of history well beyond what happens in the White House. I feel that the more extreme voices of sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and more now have a stronger platform because their candidate has won. This has absolutely nothing to do with your “typical” Republican, but I do think that all of us — no matter how liberal or conservative, moderate or extreme we are — will now have to bear witness to the inevitable shift in the mood of this country. It has less to do with Donald Trump and more to do with what his candidacy, campaign, and now election have represented.
I’m not out there in the streets of New York City protesting. The way I see it, demonstrations happening right now are against the election itself, and that’s not what I have a problem with. We all had the opportunity to make our voices heard on Tuesday, and while I am disappointed that so many others misunderstood what I believed so clearly to be hateful rhetoric, the decision has been made and we all do have to learn to put one foot in front of the other for the time being. I respect what Hillary Clinton said yesterday about having an open mind, and even though I’m still working my way through my feelings about all of this, I hope I can get there eventually. If the time does come when predictions about extreme policy changes affecting our rights and equality should come to fruition, however, you can bet that my protesting voice will get a whole lot louder. I will stand up for what I believe in.
As challenging as all of this has been to understand, I know a few things to be true this week: I am unfailingly proud of my convictions, and of the way I express them. I am proud to be a free-thinking American who is curious abut my country and the people who wish to lead it. I am proud to be a WOMAN, especially within a community of equally strong, spirited women currently showing so much support for one another. I am proud of the people who I surround myself with, who challenge me and question me and comfort me and feel things as deeply as I do. The messages out there right now about unification and coming together in love are well-taken, but hard to absorb. I do think that our collective nation will have regrets about what’s happened, but I also KNOW that there are massive forces out there of respect, kindness, and progress. I only hope that as our county negotiates our way toward positive progress, the voices of hatred and exclusion lose power and we somehow keep each other feeling safe and valued.