Hello, dear ones. It's been another unexpectedly quiet week on the blog, because this week was pretty unexpected in our household. Tuesday was a surprising day for me--honestly, it was a scary day--and I've spent the rest of this week thinking hard, and listening as well as I can, and now I'm ready to talk about it. And I hope that you'll listen too, no matter how you voted on Tuesday or how you feel about President-elect Trump. We haven't done a great job of listening to each other throughout this election season but I think it's critical that we do a better job of that now, and I'm really trying to walk that walk.
I want to set the stage for this discussion with how I was feeling on Tuesday morning. Dan and I went to cast our votes, and like a lot of the country I thought Hillary's election was imminent. I won't get in to why I support Hillary in this post, but I will say that the idea of electing our first female president thrilled me. We took this selfie with our "I voted" stickers and I got ready to celebrate that evening.
I honestly didn't think that Trump being elected was much of a possibility, but I do want to share a little bit about what I did think of Trump before Tuesday night. I'm not putting this impression out there to be argumentative--I'm putting it out there because I've spent the last five days trying to understand what Trump voters saw in him, and I think it's important to also share what this Hillary supporter saw. The loudest campaign messages I heard from Trump were focused on division and exclusion--ban Muslims from entering the United States. Build the wall. Make sure the "others" are not allowed to walk among us. I know he had other platforms, but those are the messages that rang the loudest to me, and those are the messages that made me afraid. Not necessarily for myself, but for my neighbors--for the Somali immigrants who live in our neighborhood and send their children to Kelly's school, for my LGBT loved ones who are worried their rights are in jeopardy, for my Muslim friends. I'm appalled by Trump's treatment of women, but I am fearful of the hateful statements he has made about Muslims and immigrants. I have seen conservative friends in the last few days saying that they don't understand why people would be afraid, or what they are afraid of, so I think it's important to share: I'm afraid that Trump's campaign emboldened people to act on the fear they feel towards the unknown: immigrant and minority populations, and that violence, exclusionism, and hate crimes towards those populations will increase now that those views feel validated. Children at schools in my community are telling their teachers they're afraid that Trump will make their families leave the country. The parallels between comments Trump has made in this election and things that Hitler said before the Holocaust are scary--I don't invoke Hitler's name to be sensationalist, but because those comparisons are deeply troubling to a lot of people, myself included. I'm also afraid that our country won't hold up the promises it's made to fight climate change, and that it will be too late to save the planet by the time we finally start taking that threat seriously.
As I watched the polls trickle in on Tuesday night, I felt stunned and I felt those fears. And by the time Wednesday morning rolled around and the result was clear, I realized that I had failed to listen to and to understand a huge portion of the country. Because I deeply believe that people are generally good, and that we are generally all trying to do the best we can. I know that racist, bigoted, hateful groups exist in this country, but I do NOT believe they make up a majority of voting Americans. Which means that people who I know to be good, and kind Americans voted for a candidate that ran on a platform of hate. And for those Americans to vote for that man, in spite of his disgraceful social commentary throughout the election (as we now know many Trump voters disagree with and are displeased with his comments about women and minorities) they must have been incredibly angry. Fed up. Desperate.
In the days since the election I have pushed myself to listen. To hear why people who I respect and care for would support Trump. And I've heard a variety of responses that I can understand, ranging from fiscal policies, to people who vote based solely on abortion stance, to people who were just sick of politics as usual. And here's where I've come out:
-Trump is going to be our next president. I am deeply hopeful that his campaign statements about women, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants as a whole, and LGBTQ people do not prove to be cornerstones of his presidency. I hope that he accomplishes positive economic reform as he has promised, and I hope that the fires of hatred toward the groups listed above are not stoked by his election as our leader.
-I will never say, "he's not MY president." I heard this said a lot about Barack Obama during his presidency and I found it to be really disrespectful. I am an American, the American people elect their presidents through a democratic process, and the winner is my president, as he is the president of all Americans. I might not like or support his positions, but he's what we've got. My law license isn't good in any other countries so I won't be leaving, and so long as I'm here our president is my president.
-I am more motivated than I have ever been to throw myself into helping causes that matter to me, and protecting the people that I care about. I am actively seeking out ways to support environmental, civil rights, and immigration causes in a way that I probably wouldn't have if Hillary had been elected. I'm seeing this with my other liberal friends as well, and I'm taking it as a huge silver lining. This election was a reminder that we need to be the change we wish to see in the world, and I titled this post, "What More Can I Do?" because that's what I'm asking myself now. Trump is going to be our president, and I can't control what he does in that role, but I can control what I do to be the change that I want to see in the world.
-I don't know the whole answer to the question above, but I know part of it is that I need to do a better job of connecting with people who disagree with me. We all do. I'm working hard at this, and I welcome conversations from people with different viewpoints who want to engage.
If you're thrilled that Trump was elected and you're disgusted by protesters and those who are expressing fear and distaste, I hope this post sheds some light on how those people might feel. If you're devastated that Trump was elected and you're in shock, or afraid, I hope this post is one of many voices you're hearing right now that says, "We're here with you. We stand with you. We won't let you be alone, and you don't have to be afraid."
I love you all very, very much.