I woke up this morning in a state that I can’t quite describe or process into words, but I know I am one of the millions who went to bed past 3 am last night and woke up early this morning with their stomachs in knots, and their head in a foggy stupor. I can only explain it as a distraught, confused, and hopeless anxiety.
Donald Trump has won the 45th Presidential Election of the United States.
The Trump that I have laughed about with friends and family, laughter which soon turned into fear, and after last night’s shocking upset has become a reality in the history of this country. I’m sure I can speak for many when I discuss or display emotions I had after Barack Obama was elected in the 2008 election. No matter how young you were at the time, you understood the immense change that just swept our nation. I remember going to the Inauguration on a frigid January morning and being surrounded by people in a euphoric state of disbelief, of pride for our country. I was next to a black man who was a grandfather in his 70s and watched as he laughed with tears streaming down his face. I recall my 15 year old self thinking that in this moment, this man in front of me was a sight I would never forget, the emotions his tears exuded were ones I processed as impossible to repeat.
I remember the feeling I had in 2012, as a first time voter, sitting in my college dorm and bubbling in my absentee ballot. Thinking, “One day I’ll be able to tell my kids I voted for the first African American President of the United States.” Four years later, I woke up at 6 am with my brother on November 8th, 2016 and walked over to our old preschool to vote. We discussed the fact that we were living through this monumental election. The fact that we were able to vote for the first black president of the United States, and now the first female president.
Don’t get me wrong, I was not solely voting for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. Besides the point, less then 100 years ago I would not have been able to even fill out a ballot and now I was bubbling in a female’s name. All the predictions pointed to her winning, I processed in my mind that it was a guaranteed victory. I even threw an election party with pink gender reveal cupcakes (something I will take to the grave with me – my unreasonable superstitions have convinced me that I jinxed the 2016 election. It feels oddly comforting to get that off my chest right now).
How could this happen? How did this country take such a massive leap backwards, a complete and utter slap in the face to all the progress we have made?
Now, I’m not much of a writer, aside from the occasional college essay. But when I woke up this morning, that was the only thing that I could fathom doing. My mind keeps going back to CNN commentator, Van Jones’, emotional reaction as he watched Trump take over the election last night and painfully explained what was not only his nightmare, but one of millions of parents across the nation— “How do I explain this to my children?” Yes, I am terrified that someone who wants to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants will be ruling our country, a man who supports the build up of nuclear arsenals, and who believes that climate change is merely “weather”. A human who makes obscene comments about women, and then hides behind them stating “I respect women more than anybody else”, is now the next President of the United States.
Truth is, I could go on and on about all the terrible things Donald Trump has said and done, but right now, mentioning them won’t undo what happened last night. Neither will waking up this morning and calling in sick to work because you can’t fathom the idea of normalcy, the continuation of your routine, because we don’t know what’s about to happen to our nation. Nobody knows much right now, nobody can confidently predict what is about to occur, but one thing I can confidently say is that we cannot completely submit to these feelings of despair and fear. As intimidating as they are – skipping work or staying in bed won’t erase what happened. It’ll just be another upsetting victory for Donald Trump.
This week and for the following weeks, the only thing we can do is look forward, get out of bed and deal with the reality. As I see it, as of where we stand as a nation at this very moment – that is the only possible way for this country to lean closer to some sort of progress for not only the future of our nation, but the hundreds of nations who will be severely impacted by our actions under the current circumstances. There is so much proof on the leaps of progress this country has reached in the past, simply submitting to its current failure and regression after last night will give us no positive result. In the following days, months, and years, we need to find a way to work together in unison, as a nation, to assure that our democracy which has at times reached beyond expectations, does not succumb to the threats and fears planted by a man so small, he feeds off of the pain and misfortune of others.
Featured Image Via Donald Trump