November 9, 2016

Watching Trump accept his victory in the Presidential Election felt unreal. I spent a good chunk of the day anxious and the evening incredibly sad — more than I thought I would be.

Weeks ago when talking about a potential Trump presidency, I was relatively even-keeled. Based on the structure of our democracy, I don’t think the President has that much power to make too many changes single-handedly and speedily. So I made sure to also focus on voting for the people that I believe would represent my interests in the House and Senate. I spent hours reading up on state and local propositions before casting my votes. This is the first election I’ve been this invested in. So sure, I think it’s natural to feel sad and anxious right now.

The thing is — I’m not only sad because I voted for Hilary and she did not win. I’m not only sad that I dislike how Trump presented himself and what he represented throughout his campaign. I’m not as worried about Trump fulfilling his promises to build a wall, to suspend the intake of refugees from war-torn countries…. I am more sad and anxious about what this victory for Trump symbolizes in our country. I am afraid of how many people will see this as a validation of the bigotry and hate that Trump endorsed. I feel sick to think of people taking this as permission to act out against people who are not like them.

I know that there are people who chose to vote for Trump because it was a vote against politics as usual. They wanted to vote for someone who was not a career politician, who was not tainted by money from big corporations, who would bring a new perspective to the presidency. I respect and understand that. But to me, it was more loudly a vote that symbolized a disregard for women, for racial inclusion, for progress. It was a vote for his calls for violence and intimidation against people who disagree with you (or him). It was a vote for his lack of preparation in presenting himself and his platform to the American people.

I went to bed trying to keep in mind that this doesn’t have to represent the end of the energy and excitement that many people felt in the time leading up to this election. This doesn’t need to be a step backward from the progress that’s been made towards equality and inclusion for all Americans regardless of sex, race, religion or sexual preference. There’s still a lot work to do there, especially now.

I love America. This is a country that received my family when they were fleeing from a communist country that they could no longer call home. This is a country where my family found support through both private and public organizations to integrate into a completely foreign country and care for a growing family. This is a country where my 7 siblings and I were fortunate enough to grow up in, where we received free education from public institutions and were able to take advantage of opportunities to work hard and contribute back to our communities. But America is not perfect and neither is its history. Not all Americans agree that my family and other families like ours should have been allowed to immigrate here. Not all Americans agree that my family deserves the same opportunities as their families. Not all Americans agree that love is love. Not all Americans agree that women are not just baby-makers.

What I’m trying to remember is that as Americans, we have so many freedoms that allow us to shape our country’s future. We have the freedom to influence our progress forward. We have the freedom to access vast amounts of information and dissect it, share it and discuss it with anyone we want to. We have the freedom to speak freely, to criticize our government and come to our own decisions that don’t have to match with anyone else’s. We have the freedom to choose the leaders that govern our country based on our individual values — which is exactly what happened today. While it’s not a perfect process, it’s a great step that many people in other parts of the world don’t get to take.

So while I’m not thrilled with all the outcomes of today, I respect the process and I choose to continue moving forward. I choose to continue to participate, to listen and have constructive conversations, to make decisions everyday that will contribute to continuing to create an America for all of us.