Yesterday, like so many other Americans, I woke to news that shocked me to my core. I sat at my kitchen table with the news of the election results and all I could do was stare and wait for my brain to absorb the information that nearly half of my countryfolk voted for a man who has admitted to sexual assault, denigrated women (and called for a repeal of the 19th Amendment), people of any colour, and the disabled, openly fostered hate, and encouraged another country to hack into our government’s computer system. I spent the morning grieving for the country I thought I knew. Weeping to know that many of my friends and loved ones feel actively endangered by this result and fear for their safety and wellbeing. Weeping for the women who voted against themselves. Angry at white America. Angry at the media for indulging in what began as something I never thought would progress this far.
Here we are.
So, this is how our democracy works. The people vote and whomever wins the electoral votes (not necessarily the popular vote, as evidenced by our results), wins. Lacking a justified legal challenge, that’s the end of it. Many of us are shocked and saddened and angry that a man who fosters such fear and hate was elected to the highest office of our land. We are afraid of what’s to come. We expect to have to fight- for our rights, for our planet, for our humanity.
Many of us grieve the lost trust in our neighbour- even without knowing it- for these are the people who, disregarding his lack of ethics and offensive personal behaviour, still voted for him. Women who in every case voted against their own personal best interest. People are protesting already. It’s understandable, but unhelpful at this point, I think. Now is the time to regroup and unify. Remember, the folks who voted for him don’t necessarily see him as dangerous- they see him as hope- for jobs and to correct a government they believe has gotten to big. We seldom believe we are the bad guy, regardless of which side of the fence we sit on.
We have to forgive our neighbours for voting their fear, their worst voices. Forgive them for being tricked into listening without their hearts. *I* have to do this, or I’m not sure how I can move forward without being bitter/fearful/hateful/walled up all the time. That’s not helpful and it’s certainly no way to live. I have to keep moving forward, we all do. So we need to get clear. We need to forgive and save the fight for when we know for certain where to land the punch.
Nothing has happened yet. They’re all still nodding and smiling (if sadly in some cases) and doing the first changeover steps. We have a moment to breathe, to rest, and most importantly to plan. We can be peaceful, quiet, and go on with our lives- but when the time comes, when the first gauntlet is tossed, we must take it seriously and stand for what we believe in. For our rights, for our neighbours and loved ones, for our planet. We cannot let him role back women’s rights, civil rights, environmental protections, and all the civil progress we have made.
He’s told us what he intends to do in the first 100 days of his term. We have a moment to plan our responses, consider all our options and grow stronger in our chosen arenas, and ready ourselves for what’s to come. We have learned that he is not a threat to be taken lightly. Many of us never expected him to be taken seriously when he first threw his hat in the ring, and look where we are now. We can’t make the same mistake this time.