I have been trying all day to process the results of last night’s presidential election and I haven’t gotten very far. I write this now as a way to try to work through my racing and jumbled thoughts.
Let me start by saying that I’m not generally a politically active person. I have my values and my belief systems, sure, but I’m not an active campaigner. Furthermore, I’m admittedly very undereducated in terms of politics, economics, foreign affairs, and basically anything unrelated to popular culture or the literary world. I’m nearly positive that anything I say in this blog entry has already been said by more educated and eloquent people than myself, but it’s cathartic for me to say them my own way.
I’ve spent more time than is healthy reading the election-related posts and comments of friends, family, and acquaintances on social media. From what I can tell, it seems that most of those who voted for Trump did so because they are Republicans. They have conservative beliefs and therefore voted for the man representing the conservative party.
I’ve read several posts that say something along the lines of, “We didn’t vote for racism or bigotry; we voted because we want to change __insert cause-of-choice here__.” Here’s the thing though, darlings. You may have been voting for Trump because you want to change taxes, or immigration policy, or whatever else you felt you were fighting for. But, you were also voting for a racist, a sexist, and a bigot. The two are not mutually exclusive.
I can empathize with how frustrating it must have been to feel like the only way to get the change you (those who voted for Trump) want, to show what you believe in, was to vote for such a horrible person. What an awful situation your political party put you in. Still, try as I might, I cannot reach any sort of understanding as to how those beliefs you hold are more important than the message electing Trump has sent to your fellow man, and more important than the message electing Trump has sent to your children.
Allowing Trump to have such a position of power sends a clear message that blatant racism is excusable. That mocking the disabled is defensible. That thinking of women as the lesser sex is acceptable. That sexual assault is tolerable. I do not care for a second that this isn’t the message most Republicans were intending to send when they cast their votes. This is the message being received nonetheless.
This morning I looked at my three beautiful children and shed real tears for their futures. There is so much unknown in the days, months, and years ahead. I think of the implications a president like Trump can have on the futures of my children if they are LGBTQ+, or if they fall in love with an immigrant. I think of the implication a president like Trump can have on the opportunities available to my daughter if he continues to keep patching that glass ceiling.
I’m doing my best to remind myself that social change is always slow, and that forward progress is still possible in spite of our president-elect. I am taking comfort in checks and balances, and I’m finding hope in the progressive nature of the millennials that made it to the polls (although am disturbed by the number of millennials that didn’t).
Trump being elected disturbs me greatly as a white woman. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain his election has caused to Muslims, immigrants, those who are disabled, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color. I’m going to echo the sentiments of many when I say that I love you, and I will continue to fight for you.
I’m going to do my best to make peace with my friends and family who voted for a man who would oppress so many. I’ve never been one to let my relationships be based solely on political likeness, but this time around it’s personal. That’s a hard pill to swallow. I cannot understand your choice, but I will not let it define how I think of you. America would not be the great nation it is if not for our freedom to think and speak differently from one another. I must remember this. What’s important now is that we come together as one to move past this election and on to bettering the future of our country.
In a few short weeks I return to school where I teach a beautifully diverse group of middle school students. As I think about returning to work and supporting my students in a post-election atmosphere, articles like this one from the Huffington Post are helpful.
Also helpful is the knowledge that tolerance and love are core values in my home, and because of that I know there is potential for a better world at the hands of my children. I’m not sure where the image below that’s been circulating the interwebs has come from, but it’s a nice reminder that change begins at home.
The next four years will go by, for better or for worse. America will continue to move forward, and now that I’ve gotten this all off my chest, so will I.