Now what? May I have your attention please; This is not a test, I repeat, this is not a test. This is an actual emergency. Please, do not go gentle into the next four years, America!
I’m stuck about what to do next. The day after Election Day 2016, I was going along with a slightly detached attitude, “It will be okay. We will be fine.” I walked my twin sons to school. I wore my Hillary baseball hat to drop them off, and I kept my attitude projecting a positive spin. At least that’s what I thought I was doing…
Like many of us these last days, I have been wrestling with what I can do now. How can I respond? Election night was not a typical night in our household, and not for the obvious reasons. My younger daughter was leaving on a high school journalism trip that night and I was helping her pack. I had to get her to the Van Nuys Flyaway by 10:00 pm. My older daughter was working at the polling place across the street from our house until 9 pm. This was her first vote and her introduction into democracy. I was proud that she had decided to participate and work the polls.
My husband was working out of town, and so I kept the television off while my sons did their homework, and played games on their tablets. As we packed up my daughter’s suitcase, I was checking Facebook and other sites from time to time. People were starting to seem uneasy about how the results were coming in. After a semi-worried text from my husband, I started to check CNN.com more and more. It was looking bad for the Democrats one state after another. I still kept the television turned off. I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole just yet.
I got my daughter off on her trip and came home to check on what was happening. A friend stopped by while out walking her dogs. It wasn’t over yet, but the handwriting was certainly on the wall. Again refusing to turn on the talking cable news heads, I just kept checking CNN online and Nate Silver’s 538 website. Eventually it was true, we had lost the Electoral College votes to the GOP. Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States.
Hillary was winning the popular vote, and she still is, almost a week later. It just wasn’t in the states she needed to win. So, he’s now called President-elect Trump. Hillary has conceded, and Obama has met with him in the Oval Office, to begin the peaceful transfer of power.
Democracy in action, and I want to throw up. I did my part, right? I voted. I made calls to Nevada. I proudly displayed my Clinton/Kaine yard sign, and still can’t take it down yet. I posted articles and voiced my Hillary support on my Facebook newsfeed over these last months. I proudly typed in hash tags at the end of my impassioned posts. I donated money when I could to the Hillary campaign.
So, now I sit here in Sherman Oaks, still avoiding the television, trying to decide what to say and who to even say it to. Social media has been overwhelmed with articles, memes, information, Wednesday morning quarterbacking, and then the real heartbreak ~ the many stories of overt acts of racism happening all over the country. The part of the electorate who have elected Trump solely based on his racist rhetoric feel empowered now to say and do whatever they want. Nothing and no one is off limits. The ugliness is out in the open, and it won’t be going away any time soon, I’m afraid. People are scared and we all need to step up.
There are many peaceful protestors taking to the streets all over the country. Late night talk show hosts write their sobering monologues, and our comedians offer their funny and candid perspectives on life going forward. Michael Moore visits Trump Tower in NYC to deliver a note. “You lost. Step aside.” Obviously all of these acts of defiance may not change anything outright, but the social unrest is important.
However, the blame game also happening now has little value and is really almost worse than accepting our new normal. We have to get a grip people! I know there will be talking heads debating on television ad nauseam for the next four years explaining theory after theory as to how and why we ended up here. The Democrats are out of touch, Bernie Sanders could have won, Hillary ran a lousy campaign, and the media gave Trump a free pass and then started to push back after it was too late. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter why in the short term. Now we are here. It has happened. What will we do about it?
I reflect on what part I can play now. I reinforce to my kids that they will be fine. Life will go on, I tell them. We are a resilient country. We will be okay. But many people will not be fine. They are at risk. They are afraid for their safety and these are valid fears.
Truth be told, I feel like a fraud. An interloper. I am embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty. And, I don’t say any of this just so that I can feel better about it. 53% of white women voted for this charlatan. Women who look like me cast votes to make this man the leader of our country. I am pissed. The one thing I am not though is really all that surprised. When it’s between the class clown promising free ice cream for all, and the smart girl with real ideas, the class clown wins the popularity contest…every time. This is not new. Of course, in this case, she is actually winning more votes…time to reform the Electoral College, anyone?
The part that is hard to reconcile is that the Trump voters seem to know he doesn’t tell the truth. He exaggerates. He’s a snake oil salesman, and they seem to know it on some level. Yet they don’t care. This was the year to send a message to Washington. We’re mad and we’re not going to take it anymore. Watch Michael Moore’s “TrumpLand.” Sadly, he had it right.
However, all of the same folks in Washington who didn’t play nice with Obama are still there. The assumption is that now that they are all on the same side, they will play nice with President-elect Trump. I think that remains to be seen. Trump is on his own side, and the assholes he’s already bringing with him have their own agenda, which may or may not square with the old guard Republicans. Once Trump’s base starts to realize he overpromised and often lied, where will they direct their anger then?
Several friends have jumped off social media for a break. People within families who voted differently are now living in two different Americas, and they face a serious fracture in their personal futures.
This was an exhausting election cycle and the aftermath will most definitely be worse. We need to be awake though, and now more than ever. No matter how tired we feel just thinking about it, we cannot go gentle into the next four years.
We must stand up and fight back. We must continue to raise our children with empathy and compassion. We must try somehow to encourage all of those citizens who did not vote at all that it matters. Our voter turnout was at a 20-year low in this election, and that fact should alarm more of us than it seems to.
For those of us who voted for Obama once or twice, saying this is a bittersweet time is an understatement. The Obama’s have been exceptional role models, which probably frustrated all those out to discredit them even more. Obama and Biden were a formidable team and regardless of what the GOP would have us believe, they are leaving us better off than we were 8 years ago.
All of this is certainly a heartbreak for Hillary Clinton and for those of us who were ready to shatter the glass ceiling with her once and for all. Hillary Clinton is a fighter though, and I’m sure she is not done serving her country in one way or another.
Whether we like it or not, those of us who call ourselves Democrats, Independents, Liberals, or Progressives are left with only one option and our social unrest/fighting back will look different for all of us. Do what you can when you can…and whatever happens, “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”