Ok so this happened.
And it really has taken me this long to be able to write about it. I couldn’t even write what I was thinking about incidents in the campaigns towards the end of the race. But I’ve processed some of it at least by now and have some words. Good god do we need election reform (including how candidates are chosen).
This post will be disjointed because that’s how I experienced this thing.
I did not watch tv most of the election day. My son and daughter were already so distressed by the election campaigns and developments that we took those two days off from school and tried to distract ourselves. Monday, that worked. Tuesday, that didn’t, because all three of us are apparently empathic sponges that soak up the stress of the world around us, even if we’re not directly plugged into it. Tuesday we were all very disregulated. But I kept away from tv, radio, the internet, because the results wouldn’t be in until later anyway.
I broke down and checked the incoming results about 9:30 PST.
Trump by that time had taken Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania. I had no illusions that some slim chance was going to save us then. I am perfectly aware of the mindset of most of this country. I had wished for the best. I had wanted to believe.
I had wanted to believe that the pattern of oppression I’d been experiencing and witnessing my entire life was undergoing a dramatic shift, that things were changing for the better. I thought, 2015 saw major changes in acceptance of LGBT people as people. I thought, we elected a black president two elections in a row. I thought, the disability rights movement is gaining traction. I thought, hell, BERNIE SANDERS almost got the Democratic nomination.
But I did know that history doesn’t really work like that. Two steps forward, BACKLASH FROM HELL. I mean, I know that. Black men winning the right to vote finally did not lead to women winning the right to vote as a matter of course. That is not what happened at all, at all. So black man for president did NOT mean that America was now ready for a woman president. Of course it’s not. So I knew. I had tried to tell myself that in advance.
The polls and predictions kept saying Hillary Clinton had an 80%, sometimes 90% (!), chance of winning, though. And when my son kept asking for reassurance that people couldn’t possibly be buying into the hateful bullshit that Donald Trump was selling, I kept saying, how could they? And I let myself think that it could work out for the best. The predictions never even gave Trump a chance. But then why were my son and daughter and I shaking all day Tuesday without even watching or listening to the news?
I wanted to believe so much, because I knew what it would mean if Trump did win. It would mean that Americans chose a hateful, racist, ableist, xenophobic life-long sexual predator, bullshit artist, and consummate asshole.
Because their other choice was a woman.
I looked at the incoming results at around 9:30 PM PST. And I saw. And I…
I felt as if a great sadness had struck, swiftly, like a hammer. I grew very still. I felt scared to move, scared to speak, scared to breathe, because I knew, if I did, that all the shards and splinters of myself would fall in a cascade to the ground with all the other debris, and I would never be able to find which pieces were me, or what order to put them back into, and that some pieces were now dust that would just blow away.
I felt a total loss of safety.
I didn’t feel as if I were in danger, understand; I felt all sense of safety fall away. All of it.
I went straight to bed and collapsed. I shut down entirely. I fell directly into a deep sleep with no dreams; I was someplace very, very far away.
For the next day, and the next, I was absolutely exhausted and in a state of shock, torpor and stupor. I was so very, very still and quiet. The “silver lining” of the sadness was the outlines of fear.
I do not feel this quote is an understatement:
Mr. Halperin added, “Outside of the Civil War, World War II and including 9/11, this may be the most cataclysmic event the country’s ever seen.” (here)
I had a few things bubble up that needed to be said about the situation and its aftermath:
Harassing people is not okay. Intimidating people is not okay. Assaulting people is not okay. Threatening to rape and kill people is not okay.
To the people ignoring, denying, or excusing this because it doesn’t affect them: You are part of the problem and you share the blame. Knowing you won’t stand up to this and help those who need it makes every one of us less safe. (/me)
There was a post going around at one point:
No way Trump will get the nomination…
No way Trump will become president…
Now way President Trump will launch those nuclear weapons…
No way I’m listening to those damn dirty apes.
Hahahahahaomg it’s not funny any more
but it was overwhelming to think about it at all, and I kept shutting down when I tried to do so. It wasn’t until Thursday night that I could focus on it if I tried.
This morning *this* came up in my facebook memories. It is a post of my ex-partner’s that I had shared:
Five years ago today. Probably part of the reason my son keeps asking if the police and military agree with the more hateful rhetoric repeated over and over again during the presidential campaign. (/my commentary today)
November 11, 2011 at 9:15am ·
My son, who is now 13 and on the high functioning autism spectrum, is online quite a bit… as all teenagers are. Lately, he’s been viewing a lot of occupy (insert any city here) videos and watching all the violence because he loves youtube and these videos tend to go viral. I tried to shield him as much as possible but it’s no use.
It brought back some memories from 3 years ago, when for a while all he would draw were pictures of stores with “going out of business” signs. What sad childhood memories… Now, I found myself completely lost for words when he asked me about what the protesters were screaming as the police violently wailed on them with batons. I reluctantly replied “they’re saying … stop… beating… students” and I suddenly became very emotional.
Here I was, trying the explain why adults in full riot gear were assaulting peaceful teenagers not much older than he is, for apparently just standing there. He looked at me with those innocent eyes and asked me “Is this in the United States ?”
Also this morning, I started seeing more and more of what people were saying about the election and the reactions to it. And by this afternoon, I was not in shut-down any more. All the overwhelming emotion that I had reflexively suppressed had boiled back up to the surface. I’ve been shaking for a while now.
I am devastated, heart-shattered, and afraid, and now I am also quite mad.
I hear people saying that the white Christians who voted for Trump did so because they felt they were being attacked for being white, Christian, etc.
You may have *felt* that way, but you weren’t being attacked.
You weren’t being dragged to death behind pickup trucks or massacred in night clubs for being straight.
You weren’t being fired without recourse or denied access to bathrooms or killed for being cis.
You weren’t being surrounded by gangs and beaten, your churches weren’t burned, for being Christian.
You weren’t being lynched or burned alive and then thrown in a dumpster for being white.
And men, you weren’t being raped, disbelieved and blamed out of hand by everyone around you, and then sued by your rapist for custody rights of ensuing child.
Whereas this has ACTUALLY been happening to non white, non Christian, non privileged people. And now you voted in support of this kind of shit because you FELT attacked.
Also now you are mocking people with legitimate fears as being crybabies.
Ok (deep breaths)
Honestly I feel like this has been THE GREAT OTHERING and the message is that if you are not white Christian straight cis nondisabled etc et, then you are bad and wrong and should be deeply ashamed and get to work on that because if you don’t then you are willfully evil and should be banished at least and outright destroyed at worst. Which truly sucks because I (while being incredibly privileged in my white skin and my somewhat successful ability to pass in other areas) am mostly not those things, and I’ve spent most of my forty years trying to hide that and dying inside because of it, and mostly failing and being ostracized and publicly shamed anyway, and I just finally got to a point where I wasn’t afraid to at least be myself in an anonymous wordpress blog. And damn it, if you can’t see my humanity unless I look and think and believe exactly like you, I am not the one who is flawed. And why would I want to turn myself into THAT? Maybe I don’t want to be a self-righteous judgemental asshole on purpose. ?!?!
Now, am I fleeing the country? Uh, do I need to? And how will I know if it’s that bad? Is it one of those situations where everything is semi-simmering under the surface and then suddenly blows up in your face and you wish you’d left earlier? Or is it more that I should not be afraid in my blue-state bubble (but very military town) until I start feeling like danger has intruded into my everyday life? (I am so privileged to be even thinking about leaving, I know. I know.)
I am not so good at knowing when to leave a bad relationship. It took me over twenty years to leave the last one that wasn’t working for me (or for them). So I don’t know if I can trust my instincts here.
And where would I go? Where could I go? I have some vague ideas.
Well, for now, I am sitting right here, because I am not feeling in immediate danger, and also the electoral college hasn’t even cast their official votes yet, and also Obama is still in charge until next year. Will things quiet down? Will the militias rise up? I have no idea. I guess we’ll see. I hope these visions of doom will seem laughable in six months. I’m afraid they seem ridiculous-yet-still-plausible now.
Maybe fleshing out emergency plans will give me something to do and help keep me from feeling so overwhelmed and helpless. Maybe these overwhelming emotions will play out on their own in a little more time. I think that is the most likely outcome.
Articles/ posts I highly recommend right now
(I’m sure there’s more but I am barely getting by here, sorry):
And I have no idea how to end this post.