This Is Grief: Raw words about our new reality

I. Denial

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

I still clung to a shred of hope when I lay down to sleep that night: there has been some mistake; this is not real. But at six-thirty in the morning on November 9th, 2016, when Fletcher’s radio alarm sounded, my eyelids flew open to a replay of DJT’s triumphant address.

Reality had splintered. We were meant to be in a different reality, one that was now skewing off in another direction, in some parallel universe, and leaving us under these darkening skies.

NO NO NO THIS CANNOT BE REAL

NO WE CANNOT HAVE ELECTED A MAN ENDORSED BY THE KU KLUX KLAN

No we cannot have elected a man who promised to round up ‘the illegals,’ who promised to ban Muslims, who touted an endorsement by the Fraternal Order of Police — a group that you might equate with the routine execution of unarmed black people.

PLEASE GOD THIS CANNOT BE REAL

Only — it is.

II. Anger

White fucking women lost this election. (N.B.: I am a white woman.) How could a majority of white fucking women have voted for him?

Here’s the most moving explanation for this phenomenon that I’ve come across: These women are akin to those who boast about being cool for watching rape-themed porn with their boyfriends: ‘Look at me I’m cool I think rape is funny, DJT for president!!!!!’

BUT HOW DID THE FUCKING POLLS GET IT SO FUCKING WRONG?

Here’s one possibility.

White people may have just systematically declined to admit to pollsters that they were going to cast their ballot for a bigot. (“I personally know many Republicans who won’t admit that they are voting for Trump,” someone told a Politico reporter.) That could be a reason why the front of The New York Times came to predict that HRC had, give or take, an 85 percent chance of winning the presidency. That prediction was based on an aggregation of many polls by many polling agencies. Her alleged odds even spiked to 93 percent in the days after we learned that our president-elect is a serial sexual predator — that, to him, women exist to be ogled and grabbed. (When asked, months ago, about women he might appoint to his cabinet, he couldn’t name a single one — except his daughter. Though he has also, sickeningly, been known to ogle her: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter,” he once said, in a television interview, “perhaps I would be dating her.”)

If I’m claiming that white women in the middle of this country handed the presidency to DJT, what of their male counterparts, who lined up behind him in far more overwhelming numbers?

I guess I never had much hope that those men would decline to support a bigoted misogynist who is breathtakingly unqualified to lead our country. I’m dissatisfied with that answer, though; I’m dissatisfied that that was my foregone conclusion. I believe that we are better than that — that all of us, in every corner of this country, are better than that. (More about that in part V.)

III. Bargaining

But she won the popular vote!!!

HRC: 60,403,091

DJT: 60,037,301

She got 365,790 more votes than DJT!!!

In other words, only 18.8 percent of our entire country voted for him. (FYI I’m using total U.S. population as the denominator, rather than eligible voting population, because it contextualizes his victory across all of our people, not just those who are eighteen and older and haven’t been stripped of their voting rights.)

I feel a little better. This is not a pandemic. Fewer than 20 percent of Americans cast a ballot for DJT.

And maybe he won’t be so bad after all? He did say in his victory speech that he wants to be president for all of us, not just those who supported him. And he said it was ‘a great honor’ to meet with President Obama at the White House about his transition to the presidency — that’s hopeful, right?

And I’m totally confident that he doesn’t actually believe in anything he said or promised in his entire campaign, except, of course, his claims about his own greatness. So maybe he’ll move to the center? Once upon a time he was pro-choice, and he did promise to fix infrastructure….

Yeah, right.

IV. Depression

So it turns out that we are in a different country, in a different world, at a different point on the arc of history, than I thought all along. I was naive as fuck.

We now have a bigoted misogynist president-elect; we also have a vice president-elect who signed legislation allowing Indiana businesses to refuse services to members of the LGBTQ community; who supports using public funds for so-called conversion therapy to ‘cure’ gays; who refused to comply with the Obama administration’s rules designed to reduce prison rape; who co-sponsored a bill that would have eliminated automatic citizenship for children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents; who voted in favor of a bill that would have allowed the detention of undocumented immigrants seeking hospital treatment; and who has (obviously, I guess) opposed the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state. In terms of DJT’s forthcoming cabinet appointments… no, I can’t even.

That thing about Nazi Germany keeps spooling through my mind.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not

speak out —

because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not

speak out —

because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not

speak out —

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one

left to speak out for me.

I have started needing meditation tapes just to sleep at night. They help me out of the wasteland of my thoughts. On a recent night, somewhere between three and four a.m., I had this thought: How good it would be just not to exist at all.

V. Acceptance

I will never accept the hate. We must never accept it.

I also see that economic distress and malaise have intertwined with hate in the minds of millions of our brothers and sisters in the center of this country. That is real. And so we must find real solutions for their distress — while disarming the hate.

I accept that this cataclysm has awoken many of us who were apparently sleeping — including me. I accept, and rejoice, because we are no longer asleep. I accept that this terrible new reality has enlivened the most powerful force in our democracy: us.

Somehow, in love and compassion and truth, we must find a way forward.