Elections and Actions

I have never written about politics before because, quite frankly, I feel ignorant on the subject. I embarrassingly haven’t done a lot of research before this election cycle and have been swayed by both sides of the aisle. And without knowing enough about economic policy or foreign trade, it’s hard for me to gauge exactly where I stand between the two (very flawed) parties.

But here are things I do know: racism is not okay. Misogyny is not okay. Xenophobia and all other “-isms” are not okay in this country that we call the greatest nation on earth.

As the results poured in on Tuesday night, I wept. I didn’t know that politics was capable of making me feel that way. I had so much anger and disappointment and fear. My first thought was of Hillary. Of how hard she fought and how qualified she was and yet she still lost to the most unqualified candidate in the history of our nation. Every woman knows that feeling. In a way, Hillary is all of us.

But over the next few days, I began to try my hardest just to listen. Especially after reading this article, I was very challenged about viewing the results through my own throne of privilege. To those who don’t have time to read the article, it’s about what feminism means to white, upper-class women versus women of color and those in poorer communities. Hillary is not really all of us.

This white, upper-class version of feminism (aka Lena Dunham, “empowerment,” and body image) is utterly useless right now. We need political feminism and real, concrete changes that help women of all races and socioeconomic statuses.

The last five years of my life have been dedicated to challenging myself about gender identity, and–more recently, living in Thailand–about race. And it feels like all of the progress on those fronts has been thrown out the window. Everything I have fought against is excused because it is exemplified in the highest office.

The realization has hit me: my life will likely not change very much based on President-elect Fuckface Von Clownstick. I am more protected by my race than impeded by my gender.

There are two major points of views I have seen since the election results: the liberals protesting in the streets and using the hashtag #NotMyPresident versus the conservatives asking for empathy for Trump supporters and calling us to come together as a nation.

The blame is placed on everyone: on third party voters, on rural whites, on the electoral college, on Republicans, on Democrats, on the media and–most significantly–on Trump himself. As a country we are hurt and upset and unsure of how to proceed. At least, that’s how I feel.

On the morning of the election, I had a lot of hope. I disagree with many of Hillary Clinton’s actions and policies. But, in the end I had to find a reason to vote for her. My main reasons were: appointing a Supreme Court justice that will uphold marriage equality and my right to choose, and her long track record of experience. But the e-mails!!!! Seemed a lot less significant to me than an actual sexual predator with no knowledge of politics whatsoever.

The morning of November 8th, all of my social media feeds were pictures of people wearing their voting stickers, proudly proclaiming their vote for the first female president. I can’t tell you the amount of times I read “love trumps hate.” And it was inspiring and put me at ease–she had this in the bag.

I went to the Cavs game with my dad that night and came back home to absolute horror. Ohio was being called for Trump moments after I walked in the door. How could this happen? Social media lied to me! The polls lied to me! How did he win Michigan and North Carolina? Those were supposed to be slam dunks for Clinton. (Actually, there’s a very clear answer)

It was that moment of realization that I have put myself in a bubble. I only follow comedians, celebrities, or people with the same view as me on Twitter. I watch clips of John Oliver and Trevor Noah reconfirming the beliefs that I already hold. And with all the algorithms on Facebook feeding me content that I want to see, I was lulled into a false sense of security.

And then on November 9th, I woke up and saw a US map in a sea of red. And I cried. How did I not see this coming? What could I have done differently? How is there so much hate in this great nation of ours? It was a gut-wrenching feeling that I will never forget.

I read a thread on Twitter that has stuck with me all week:

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-11-00-pm

I get the privilege of looking at Twitter or Facebook, being outraged by the election, and then going to the store with zero worry for my safety or the safety of my family. My bubble of likeminded influencers has prevented me from true empathy for POC, Muslims, immigrants, and other minorities. I, and so many people I know, get to pat ourselves on the back that we voted for Hillary and aren’t racist, and then go on with our lives.

Blame the electoral college, I guess, and those frustratingly close states like Florida and Pennsylvania. But this is not the fault of third party voters. In fact, most of the people I know who voted third party are hard conservatives who could not consciously support Trump. And for those people, I cannot be angry.

But for those who are educated and well-off and still voted for Trump, I want an explanation. How will you justify your vote when Muslims have to register like 1930’s German Jews? How will you justify your vote when your friend can legally be evicted for the color of their skin? All for the sake of “economic anxiety.”

I have heard the call to empathy for Trump voters. OK, I am listening. I am listening because I have the privilege to listen. Because I can do so without being told to go back to Mexico. Because I can do so without a beer bottle being thrown at my head for my sexual orientation. Because I don’t have to worry about someone painting the N-word all over my car.

So yes, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, I will try my hardest to understand the other side and come together as a nation. Because unlike so many others, my life is not at stake.

I will try my hardest to listen over these next few months and years. To listen to differing opinions, to educate myself on the political process and–most importantly–listen to the stories of people who have been marginalized for far too long.

I will never stop denouncing the hate that Trump has embodied. I will never stop loving those who feel like they are not wanted in this country. We cannot forget this feeling. We cannot become complacent and normalize this behavior, as much as Jimmy Fallon would like to see him as “entertainment.”

And for those who cast their votes for Trump, but “aren’t racist,” why are you not condemning the hate crimes done in his name? Why are you not advocating for minorities if you are supposedly so open-minded?

Republicans in Congress, this is now on you. You have a responsibility to this nation to lead by example and not tolerate the hate that elected your Commander-in-Chief. You have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution and serve the people. Republican leaders cannot stay silent in the face of racism, sexism, xenophobia, and straight up fascism. Based on Paul Ryan’s vote, I don’t have a lot of faith.

I am entirely guilty of passivity and ignorance, which is what has led our country to this point. But this election has infuriated me like nothing has before and I have no desire to be either of those things any longer.

What can we do? How can we stop this tyranny before it begins? Women, take care of your health now. Donate to Planned Parenthood to protect the rights that we have earned.

Be conscious of your carbon footprint as Donald cuts $100 billion in environmental spending. Find a local charity, volunteer, donate. Try your hardest to expand your bubble beyond a continuous echo of what you already believe. Educate yourself on the deep roots of racism that have been planted in this country. And when you see someone being harassed on the street, now is not the time to stay silent.

Find your representative in Congress. Call them. Tell them to do their job and fight for you.

Most importantly, come 2018, show up to the polls. You can blame everyone on earth for this result, but at the end of the day it was the lack of voter turnout that did Hillary in. Vote. Research the candidates and then encourage others to vote too.

That’s right, I said 2018, not 2020. The ENTIRE House of Representatives is on the ballot, along with 33 Senate seats. If you are appalled by the outcome of the election and didn’t vote, make sure you can never say that again in the future.

Do not underestimate the consequences of this outcome. But most importantly: start listening. Listen to people’s stories. Let it make you angry. And then do something about it.

Don’t watch a Full Frontal clip “roasting” Trump and mistake that for activism. There is actual work to be done. Let’s get to it.

In case this wasn’t enough reading, here’s an article that will further challenge your white privilege/reaction to this election.

 

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2 comments

  1. You are nailing it, Annie! Such a thoughtful response to the election results. Thank you! You are making me hopeful! Maybe you should run for office locally? I’m not really kidding – we need to get more good people into politics.

  2. Thank you Annie. That was well written and expressed a lot of things I felt the past few days/weeks as well. Keep writing 🙂 I don’t comment enough, but I’ve really connected to a lot of your stuff about leaving home since I moved to the UK. Thanks again.

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