Nausea. Heartburn. Migraine.
Those were my literal initial feelings as the electoral votes climbed higher for Trump Tuesday night. My brother-in-law voiced them first, asking for the Tums. I compulsively checked Five Thirty Eight and watched Clinton’s chance at the presidency sink lower and lower. Once I realized the inevitable, I felt sunken and low. I, of course, was devastated for Hillary. One of the most brilliant women to ever exist in this country, let alone serve it for thirty years, was defeated by a racist, sexist, homophobe who can’t keep his hands to himself.
I had a 7:30 am. flight to Philly with my sister for a conference. I didn’t want this to ruin my trip. So I went to bed before it was officially called and turned on Drunk History. (Incidentally, I highly recommend this show right now. It is more inspirational & patriotic than it seems, and incredibly funny. Perfect balm for the soul.) But I couldn’t stay off social media as much as I tried. I couldn’t sleep. I can’t turn off my brain most nights, but Tuesday night, my brain was cranked up to 11.
What would my mom think if she were here, a woman who fought for equality and education her whole life? How sick and degraded must President Obama feel, our first Black president, to hand the president over to someone who doesn’t understand the Constitution. What world will my incredible niece and nephew grow up in? Had I done enough? What could I do now to protect those who must feel so scared and terrified at losing their hard-won (and, for many, still not guaranteed) rights?
My sister was already spinning a positive. My brother valiantly tried to explain and defend my position to our dad who gleefully celebrated Hillary’s demise and Mike Pence’s “nice attitude.” Our mother taught us to always be optimistic and positive, to never stay down for long. Feel your feelings, then pick yourself up and do something about it. As previously written, I spent my undergraduate career working with my local community to protest rape culture. Why did I stop? Lack of resources and infrastructure. Frankly, I was also tired.
But now I am ready to go. I don’t know how or what but I will be organizing and doing it soon. We need to express our first amendment rights now more than ever before they are repressed and strangled. (If you are with me, let me know. I am with you.)
This is far from the darkest day in my life, and far from the darkest day in our country’s. This country was born on the backs of slaves and the blood of indigienous peoples. We have done worse and survived and grown. I am scared and afraid and sad and know you are, too. But I believe in my fellow humans and I believe in our democracy. Now is not the time to let anger allow us to shut others out. Listen and talk. Dialogue and expression are our greatest tools right now.
In closing, I keep thinking about a broken flag. I am incredibly privileged to have attended President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. I remember watching him win in 2008 and feeling so incredibly proud of our country and inspired for the change and progress he promised. In Washington that January, it was freezing cold, but thousands of people filled the National Mall to watch history. Our country was proud. While not everyone is upset with the outcomes, and people were certainly upset with them in 2008, the feeling in our country is markedly different now. There are sharp lines in the sand marked by gender, race, and class. They have always been there, but Trump shone a brighter light. We have to work now to cross these lines and unite the country. It will be hard and messy, but it is fudamental and necessary.
They gave us little American flags to wave the day of the inauguration. I brought mine back with me, but it broke on the way home. i still have it. It sits on my bookshelf, hanging together by a few splinters.
What a difference eight years can make.