Why We are in Despair and Why We Won’t Just Get Over It.

Debra Kirschner
Nov 10, 2016 · 5 min read

Yes we are in despair because our candidate lost the election. And yes we desperately wanted Hillary Clinton to win. But please understand — if we had lost to a traditional Republican like Mitt Romney or John McCain, we would be disappointed, but we would also move on, like we all always have on both sides of the aisle.

We are in despair because that “Republican” is Donald Trump, who is neither Republican or Democrat, but rather a dangerous, hateful demagogue, who was ready to snatch power by any means necessary, but who did not have to, because our electorate gave it to him.

We are in despair because Donald Trump has loudly embodied bigotry and sexism and now that he has won, we and so many people we love are in danger.

We are in despair because Trump has emboldened hate groups, who once existed in the shadows. And because as we predicted, sexist, racist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic hate crimes are on the rise. White supremacists and sexual predators have been validated by his candidacy, and especially by his victory.

We are in despair because Donald Trump won by threatening our democracy, including specific threats to our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and our right to due process. We love the constitution and our patriotism is rooted in its ideals. We are in despair because these ideals will likely soon be under attack.

We are in despair because Donald Trump has threatened our allies around the world. And because he has emboldened our adversaries the same way he has emboldened the alt right hate groups here in America — thereby placing himself in the rising movements of nationalism and bigotry around the world.

We are in despair because the Russians hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails to influence our election. We are in further despair because when nothing stuck, the FBI, specifically Agent Comey, abused his authority and released a meaningless letter just to cast a shadow of doubt on our candidate. And it worked. We are in despair because we fear there will be no consequence to this and that we cannot count on this agency to protect us.

We are in despair because even though we had forty years of Hillary Clinton’s tax returns, Trump refused to release his own and somehow our electorate decided he was the more trustworthy candidate. We all know these returns would prove him to be a fraud and a con artist who owes millions of dollars to Russia and China — all of which would compromise his loyalty to the United States, and his claim of an “America First” agenda.

We are in despair because many journalists failed at their jobs, and created a sense of false equivalency between the two candidates. We are also in despair because so many journalists did do their jobs, amazingly well, and continually put themselves and their families at risk from vicious attacks by unhinged Trump supporters, because they told the truth. And yet their well sourced stories were given the same weight as conspiracy theory media by so many Americans.

And most of all we are in despair because Donald Trump showed us exactly how hateful he is and millions of people voted for him anyway.

Many of us are in despair because we love and admire Hillary Clinton. The media continually repeated the narrative that we all only saw her as the lesser of two evils. Certainly some of her supporters feel that way. But millions of us see ourselves in Hillary. We wore pantsuits to the voting booths, we got choked up as we cast our ballots, and we were so ready to let her be our champion. We know she is flawed — all candidates are — but we have admired her resilience and her intelligence and her ability to always be learning and fighting for those who do not have a voice. We believe in her hearts that she would have been an amazing president. We also believe she would have listened to the concerns of Trump’s core supporters in ways that he never will.

And we are in despair because after years of Trump’s efforts to delegitimize our twice democratically elected president with racist conspiracy theory bullshit, Trump will follow President Obama and erase everything he has accomplished. And because after months of hurling offensive, equally unsubstantiated insults at Hillary, including threats to “lock her up” without due process — she had to concede this election to him. That hurt. We sobbed as Hillary Clinton and President Obama embodied Michelle Obama’s calls to “go high” in their November 9th speeches. We will heed Hillary’s advice to have an open mind about a Trump presidency, but an open mind is not the same thing as a blank slate. We will remember his fascist threats and we will continue to protect our democracy by our constant participation. We will also heed Hillary’s advice to fight for what is right.

The pain is real and it is intense. And here’s the thing — I am grateful for this unbearable despair — because this grief can lead to vigilance and action. Apathy would be the death of us as a nation. To despair right now is to comprehend how fragile our country is and how ready we are to fight for justice.

To our Facebook friends who are telling us to “get over it” — my response is that we cannot afford to make you more comfortable right now. Among us, standing together are women, people of color, Jewish, Muslim, Latino, Asian, LGBT and more, and we are willing to stand up to bigots who wear swastikas and Confederate flags that signify their beliefs that we should be killed. If we will put ourselves at risk to stare them in the face, your Facebook posts won’t silence us — not even the ones in ALL CAPS.

Many of us have been apathetic in the past — but even though our lives are as busy and stressful as ever — the election of this hateful demagogue has awakened our spirits of resistance. The race between the unqualified sexist who brags about sexual assault and the most qualified person to ever seek office, who famously declared that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, has unleashed another wave of feminism. Nasty woman feminism. Round one may have been lost but trust and believe that it’s just the beginning. I have made #NotBrokenAWOKEN my battle cry so I can pick myself up today and remember to fight every day for what’s right. Trump has emboldened hate groups, but Hillary’s message of Stronger Together can and must prevail.

Debra Kirschner

Written by

Independent Filmmaker best known for writing and directing THE TOLLBOOTH, currently in development for her next feature film, MALLWALKERS.

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