The Morning After: a Tough Pill to Swallow
Wow, that hurt. This isn’t the post I was supposed to be writing today. In fact, I considered not even writing this post, but I felt it was important to be able to look back on how I felt, as I have often looked back on “What Forward Means to Me,” the post I wrote after the 2012 election that was so filled with pride for our progress as a nation. It breaks my heart to read that right now, but I’m also so very glad to have it.
Today I was supposed to be writing about how terrible it felt to have essentially sat this election out; how unnatural it felt not to be launching a canvass on election day, after having been on the ground in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. I felt guilt, I would say, but it’s okay because she won anyways and I’d learned my lesson: I’d never spend another election day doing anything but GOTV. But after a gut wrenching Tuesday night, only this last part rings true.
To be frank, I don’t think more ground game would have made any difference this year. This is one of the aspects that tears me apart the most: I believe so deeply in the power of ground game; in the power of passionate people coming together to work for a cause they believe in. Yet, she had the most expansive, strategic, experienced team that has ever been. He had none whatsoever, and won anyways.
This was about something more. There was a brewing cauldron of anger and dissatisfaction. We’re calling them the silent majority, but were they really silent? I think we laughed too much and listened too little.
Many of us have been experiencing the stages of grief, albeit not necessarily in order. I woke up Wednesday morning feeling shock, sadness and despair. Eight years ago to the day, I had moved to Washington, D.C. filled with immeasurable hope. I knew very little about politics, only that I was inspired by this movement, that I was inspired by the way in which people from all walks of life had come together around a shared desire for a country characterized by love, justice and equality, and we had elected a president that embodied that. I wanted to be a part of it, and that I felt more empowered than I ever had before.
Instead, I woke up filled with immeasurable fear and sadness, and once again, it wasn’t about politics. It was because this election too was reflective of American sentiment, but this time we elected a president who embodies our sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia and violence. I felt embarrassed, discouraged and powerless. Much of what we have achieved over the past eight years may very well be undone, but no one can take away the amazing friendships I have built and wonderful experiences I have had since that November day eight years ago when I packed up my car and headed for our nation’s capital.
One thing I feel is of the utmost importance to acknowledge is the many layers of privilege that protect me from the effects of this election as a straight, white, financially fortunate female. For my friends and fellow Americans for whom the fear of this presidency is so real, deep and personal, I have so much sorrow. Please know I will do everything I can to stand with you in solidarity.
I also had an immense amount of anger. How could this candidate be a reflection of my America? I generally can see past political differences. I believe in bipartisanship. I love democracy. I respect the Republican party. But I cannot and will not respect you if you voted for Donald Trump, for you are implicitly or explicitly supporting values I deplore. I have seen some folks express frustration with those that voted for a third party candidate. Here’s the issue with that – if you express frustration with a third party vote, you also must assert that it would be right to vote for Trump reluctantly, in spite of his heinous misdoings and bigotry. I vehemently disagree with the latter. I believe people should vote their conscience; if a third party candidate’s values are best aligned with your conscience, I respect that choice, even recognizing that candidate will never win (if Trump’s values are most aligned with your conscience, you repulse me).
I truly did not want to get out of bed the morning after. I had already texted to say I would not be coming in because I had not slept and felt ill, which was 100% truth. But I’m so glad I changed my mind. It was a great comfort to be surrounded by compassionate colleagues who were experiencing similar emotions, and to talk about what we were feeling. I feel so lucky to work with remarkable individuals. It was a great comfort to be reminded that our work to feed hungry kids will continue – in fact we will fight harder.
After work I didn’t crawl back into bed. I went to the DC Food Policy Council Food Equity, Access, and Health & Nutrition Education work group meeting, where I was again surrounded by compassionate people striving to bring good to this world. We brainstormed solutions for making ‘nutrition education for all’ a reality in D.C. I was reminded that there is so much we can do on the local level. I was reminded again that our work will continue – in fact we will fight harder.
It is time to move forward. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be moments that really fucking suck. Like watching a president-elect endorsed by the KKK sit in the Oval Office next to our first black president, as he explains how he will gracefully hand over the reigns. I thought about how much I wanted our First Lady to be escorting our first First Gentleman; a former president, I would have liked to see him pick out the drapes. Instead, she escorted a former model whose drapes we’ve already seen quite enough of. January 19th will be even harder, as we gather at the White House to say #ThanksObama. January 20th will be excruciating, although we no longer feel pressure to get the bathroom done in time to make a fortune on AirBnb; for no amount of money will I let deplorables stay in my home.
But most importantly, today, I re-pledge myself to strive for positivity, kindness, and working for good. I am so grateful for the amazing people who surround me with support and inspiration everyday. Together, we must fight harder.May this election light a fire in the crusaders of justice, love and equality.
As I am reminded every time I look at my left foot: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek”. The skin may wrinkle and the ink may fade, but the sentiment will last forever.