It’s taken me a couple of days to figure out what I want and need to write about Election Night 2016 and Donald Trump’s win. I was on the verge of tears for 3 days afterward. I don’t think that this is totally the election; I’ve got some Seasonal Affective Disorder, and while the end of Daylight Savings Time is much easier for me to handle now than it has been in the past, it still does somewhat throw me for a loop a bit, moodwise.
And what to say about the election? Like most people, I was surprised that Trump won. And I’ve been heartbroken. And scared for the future of both my American friends, and for the world.
Surprised that he won, yes. But not shocked. Not as much as some people were, I don’t think, because I’ve felt for a long time that Clinton’s campaign wasn’t as strong as people were saying it was. Was she the best option? Without a doubt. Was I fully comfortable with her? No. But I think that Canadians have less of a problem than Americans do with voting someone in with whom they’re not fully comfortable if it means keeps a less desirable candidate out, and I don’t know why that is.
However, I rarely talked about my discomfort with Clinton openly. I felt really uncomfortable doing so around other liberals, especially women. It just wasn’t worth drawing the castigation of her supporters (and that’s what it really did feel like – castigation.)
I’ve read a number of theories now about why the election played out the way it did, and more and more I’m liking the one that talks about the Trump Silent Majority – the voters, mostly rural, with whom his message of an improved economy and more American jobs really resonated. Not necessarily racists and homophobes (although some of them certainly were, from the media coverage that I saw) – but hard-working people to whom even the middle-class struggling to make ends meet looks elite. I’ve lived in a very small town in a rural area for most of my life. I knew immediately what pundits meant when they started talking about the Trump Silent Majority. I can’t speak personally to the challenges that it faces, because I grew up in a middle-class family where both parents had good jobs; even now, as a white, straight, disabled person working, renting in the area and able to pay all my bills each month, and living in a country where my healthcare expenses are covered, I look at all of this from a very privileged position. But I have an idea of what the challenges are. And I can empathize with feeling powerless to change your own life. It does fuel a sort of desperation, particularly when it’s accompanied with economic hardship and the difficult decisions that go with that (I have been unemployed long-term; it was much more stressful than I imagined it would be.)
For whatever reason, these people felt heard by Trump, in a way that they felt the government hasn’t been hearing them. They saw Clinton as part of the government establishment that hasn’t been hearing them, and she just couldn’t convince them that she could. The Democrats should spend some time asking themselves, before the next election, why that was.
Again, for the Record – I Don’t Like Donald Trump
I watched the entire 18 months of Trump’s campaign. I think he’s a liar and a bully, a racist, misogynistic, petty excuse of a man who is immensely privileged in many ways and can’t – won’t – examine it. But he also won the Presidency fair and square and, as Hillary Clinton said herself in her very classy acceptance speech, he deserves the chance to lead. This sentiment has been echoed by Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.
It doesn’t mean you have to like him.
It doesn’t mean you have to approve of the action he takes.
Don’t Give Up Your Power
It doesn’t mean that if he does indeed start to restrict the rights of American citizens that you shouldn’t make your voices heard. In fact, given that he talked in his campaign about restricting the rights of American citizens, you should probably be planning for what you’ll do when that happens. What non-violent, legal protest are YOU willing to engage in? Who will join you? Reminder: Protest comes in many forms. What are your talents? How can you put them to use?
We’re all angry and hurting right now, but please don’t stay there forever. Take the time that you need to mourn, and then channel that energy into something that will bring about change. Lots of organizations are going to need to more volunteer power than ever to buffer vulnerable people against the changes that Trump’s proposed changes could bring. Again, what are your talents? What can you offer to these organizations? Even a little bit of time helps.
Some liberal women that I’ve talked to have decided, in light of Trump’s talk about defunding Planned Parenthood, to set up monthly donations to that organization. They do a lot for women’s health and could certainly use the money regardless of whether their government funding is stopped.
You are not powerless. Please remember that.
Remember the Children
I think it’s particularly important to reassure children who are upset by Trump’s election that there are adults in the country who are committed to keeping them safe. Children have absorbed too much of what’s been said in this election, I think – with social media such a force in their lives from such a young age, it’s hard for them not to. I was exposed to Canadian politics from a fairly young age (CBC radio was always on in my house) and I had an idea before I was 10 years old which federal politicians my parents didn’t especially like…but I wasn’t sure why. I knew broadly that there was big stuff going on with my country – that Quebec wanted to leave, that there were scandals going on within the government…but it wasn’t until I was in my teens that people started to say, “Here’s how these grown-up issues will affect you.” I wasn’t asked to deal with the “grown-up” while I was still a child.
One of Stephen Colbert’s employees told a story on “The Late Show” last week about how his son woke him up on November 9th, asked him if Donald Trump had won, and burst into tears when he said yes. And that me profoundly sad. The kids have been listening much more closely than we thought they were, I think, and were saddled with some intense grown-up anxieties that their psyches weren’t designed to handle. We need to be more careful.
That’s what makes stories like the one that came out of Bret Harte Middle School in Los Angeles on Nov 12 so awful. The teacher in question, who told an 11-year-old student that Trump would deport her parents and leave her here to be placed in foster care, has been fired, but that’s not really the point. This is the stuff that you’re going to need to be prepared to call people on in the next 4 years, and to say to President Trump, “We need to know your stance on this, when people use your name to scare children in this manner. ” Whatever Trump’s plans on immigration end up being, an adult that children are told they should trust using this sort of rhetoric in the classroom is inexcusable and an abuse of power, and not something that a President should want his name attached to.
The father…Colbert’s employee…his response to his son was perfect, by the way. Look for it in the video below, which I’ve also linked to because I liked what Colbert had to say about helping our kids deal with this. He’s been one of the media people that’s kept me sane for the last 18 months.
I hope that all of you are doing okay. I really do.
But While I’m Calling People Out…
If you’re a Clinton supporter and you think it’s okay to call Melania Trump names like “slut” (I’ve seen this in Facebook groups) and that it’s okay to hold up signs at protests that say “Rape Melania”, you need to stop and ask yourself if you really believe that Hillary Clinton would want you to express your support of her in this way.
I truly don’t believe that she would, and it makes me sad and angry when I see Clinton supporters engaging in this sort of behaviour. No woman deserves to raped, and I’m sure that anyone who wants to criticize Melania Trump can find reasons to do so without getting into slut-shaming.
And before you start to criticize her, please ask yourself if your anger is truly with her, or with her husband, and target it accordingly.
That’s all for now…please take good care of yourselves and each other…let’s try our best to stop the carnage.