Sitting here trying to make sense of what happened last night.
My heart hurts for my 10-year-old daughter, and, if I’m being honest, me. But mostly, I’m sad for her. Her reaction to Hillary’s loss was more pronounced than I’d anticipated. I knew she was rooting for her, but I thought it was mostly just in solidarity with me, and probably her grandma, the matriarch of us nasty women. And then this morning, it hit me, Oh, she’s never experienced this before. She doesn’t know what this is. She’s never watched as the smartest, most prepared, most capable girl in the room gets overlooked, discounted or passed over. She believed me when I told her that girls could do anything. The unfairness of it all is unfamiliar ground for her, and it stings, as we women well know. So, today, we’re going to be a little quiet, a little still. We’re going to let this sink in, snuggle a bit more than usual, make a comforting dinner, and set the table with candles. And then tomorrow, we’re going to get up and go back to believing what we’ve always believed, that women are radiant and wise beings who possess incredible inner strength and who have the power to change the world. No, things didn’t go our way yesterday, but that highest, hardest ceiling has more than cracks than ever, and one of these days, we’re going to shatter it.
As for me, I’m doing a lot of thinking. Seeing where things were headed last night, I went to bed before the election was officially called, but not after spending hours firing off expletive-filled texts to friends and family all asking the same essential question: Who are these people voting for Trump? In the middle of the night, I woke, looked at my phone, saw that Trump had won, and my mind raced. What’s going to happen to Roe v. Wade? Oh my God, he’s going to have the nuclear codes! Geez, the dude freaking loves Putin. He literally said he grabs women’s pussies and he still won! We still don’t know what’s in his tax returns. What about the muslims? Sweet baby Jesus, how could America do this? What is wrong with these people? On it went until I finally fell back to sleep. I woke heartbroken and tired.
But I was also a little ashamed. Twelve hours of conscious and semi-conscious railing against half of the American public left me feeling hungover, like I’d spent the night drinking poison. Since when did I become someone who talks about “these people?” Isn’t that what I’d just spent 12 months hating about Trump and his campaign? The way he divided us so neatly into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ How many times had I said, “That’s not who we are! That’s not my America!” And yet, here I was, happy to blame and separate myself from ‘them,’ ‘those people.’
And then it hit me, I don’t have any idea who ‘they’ are because for months I’ve only been talking to MY people, watching MY kind of news, reading the stories MY friends share on social media. I’ve been viewing the world through my curated, Democratic lens and assuming that’s the ‘real’ world. That’s why last night was so shocking. I spent the day thinking everyone was donning a pantsuit and pearls and wishing they could hop a flight to Rochester to put their “I voted” sticker on Susan B. Anthony’s grave. Somehow, in this crazy election cycle, I forgot that half of the country was viewing all of this through their ‘Fox & Friends’-filtered lens too, eating up Breitbart articles shared to their Facebook feed.
And in all of that, I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t hearing. I was content to label Trump supporters as racists, anti-woman, etc., and get back to reading and consuming information that supported and confirmed my view. OK, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t think Trump tapped in to some really ugly aspects of the American public. He did. But people who turned out in droves yesterday aren’t just all hate-filled people. They are people who feel left behind and let down by our government and they wanted everybody to know it. And I’ll be honest, right now, I don’t understand them or their experience, and I already think America is great. But I know I need to try, in ways I haven’t in the past. I need to stay open and try.
Am I nervous about the future? Hills Yes! 😉 But I know we’re gonna be alright. Deep down, people are so good, and in my 40 years, I haven’t met anyone who didn’t long for the same things I do; love, peace, belonging, safety, the chance to give their children a good life full of opportunity and joy. We’re more alike than we’re different. If we start from there, and listen to each other (really listen), America will go on being great.