Everything was different the morning of November 9, 2016. I don’t want to sound like a hysterical alarmist, but it seemed the world was ending, the sky was falling. In a rare emotional moment the night before, CNN’s Van Jones hit the nail on the head when he said, “how do I explain this to my children.” Hate, bigotry, classlessness, idiocy, and bravado –I could gone on and on and on-won out over experience, poise, and American values. Or what I believed were American values.
There are moments we never forget as parents; the moment we see a wiggly bean shaped thing that a doctor insists is a person on an sonogram, the birth of our children, first steps, that first blowout… The election of Donald Trump is, unfortunately, seared into my mind as one of these parenting moments. It wasn’t just me waking up to this new tomorrow, it was my daughter. The one that cheered and waved at Hillary Clinton during a rally, the one that proudly walked into a voting booth with me as I cast my vote for the first woman president. It was SUPPOSED to be a different tomorrow for her. A tomorrow where anything was possible. Where “even girls can be president” wasn’t just a cute saying, but a reality. The election hit us hard. Hillary didn’t just lose to a Republican. She didn’t lose to an equally qualified, but conservative opponent like Mitt Romney or John McCain. She lost to a inept buffoon who shot his way up the polls with a circus of theatrics and fear mongering. It is hard to accept that she lost BECAUSE she was a woman, but she did. There are still too many voting Americans who cannot stand to see a poised and intelligent woman take command. In future posts, I am sure I will analyze the election to death and try to make sense of what happened. In the meantime, I have to come to terms with the fact that IT happened. Donald Trump will be our president. Not going to lie, I gagged a little typing that... I have to explain this to my daughter. Luckily, I shielded her from the worst of his sound bites, she doesn’t know how truly vile and disgusting he is.
“He wouldn’t like me because I am a girl.”
That was her response. I
told her lied to her and said everyone in America voted and that more people voted for Donald Trump so he was going to be our next President. This of course isn’t true- This, of course, isn’t true. Explanations of the electoral college versus popular vote and the complete failure of a system that was designed to prevent a Trump like President seemed a little too complex in the moment. But I digress. Her first response was oddly stoic and then the silent tears started falling as the realization must have hit her. I asked her what was wrong-as though I didn’t have the same damn reaction a couple hours ago… And she said “he wouldn’t like me because I am a girl.” And again, I lied to her face and told her that he would, of course, like her and that I was sure he would be an okay president. I told her that he would ask Barack Obama for help and Obama would help him to be a good president.
“What do we do now?”
That was what my husband and I pondered over coffee as we tried to make sense of what the ever living fuck happened. We knew the world as we knew it would be changed. Our American trajectory just veered off course. Trump, a racist, sexist, degenerate would get at least one Supreme Court pick. Thanks, Mitch… He also has both the House and the Senate to support his vile agenda. He is also emboldened by his unexpected and shocking victory. I sent our daughter off to school and in the next couple hours I, like thousands of other people, found myself finding solace on Facebook. People were discussing not just their grief and heartbreak (there was plenty of that!) but also rallying to prepare for the next round of elections and ways to resist the Trump presidency. Resist the Trump presidency? Already groups were forming- bands of mostly women determined to throw up obstacles in any way they could. The determination, energy, and sheer will of these early moments were astonishing. I found myself getting wrapped up in the moment and created my own Facebook group designed to bring together other people in the New England area. I’ll discuss these Facebook groups in depth elsewhere, but it gave me purpose and clarity in this desperate torrential storm of emotions. Within a couple hours, I have 4,000 people join all asking, “what do we do now?” Maybe for some the fervor was just the distraction they needed and they will move on to other things, but for me it was a moment. Perhaps not as singularly defining as the moment the election results were called, but it was the moment that I decided that there WOULD be a new tomorrow for my daughter, one that was promised to her, but it would be ushered in by people like me and like you.
In the words of Barack Obama– “change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
It is up to us. For ourselves and for those little faces across the breakfast table.