In 2008, I shed tears of genuine elation that we, as a nation, had finally come together and progressed to a point where we elected our first black president. For eight happy years, I lived in relative bliss knowing that this man had my back because he had my nation’s best interests at heart. His administration ended the Reign of Terror enacted by George W. Bush, and it was nice to be able to travel abroad without people asking me essentially, “what the fuck is wrong with your country and your president?”
Two days ago, I shed tears of sadness, fear, anger, and frustration when Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump. All of the hope that I had for continued progress was dashed in that moment. We, as a nation, elected a man who is not fit to run our country.
A lot of people have been posting that it’s “just an election” and that the “liberals” and “elites” need to get over it, there’s no reason to cry. Obama himself said, “the sun will be up tomorrow.” And yes, the sun has come up, and it is “just” an election, but it’s so much more than that. I’ve never been comfortable with people telling me how to feel or to stop feeling a certain way. So I’m here to tell you: feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Cry, if you need to. I’ve cried several times. I know it may seem melodramatic, but I’m mourning the loss of the progress that we’ve made for eight years under the Obama administration. I’m mourning the hope I had for our first woman president–for a president who would advance this country in so many ways and continue to make us a great nation.
I wrote before about how a Trump presidency scares me. Now that “what if” is an absolute: he is the president. I still can’t fully wrap my mind around the reality of that. I feel like I’m waiting to wake from a terrible nightmare.
Several friends who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me have asked me why I’m so upset. What would Clinton actually do for me? But here’s the thing: I don’t think about voting in presidential elections in terms of what someone can do for me. I’m good, man. I live a pretty cushy life thanks to the choices I’ve made and the path I’ve taken. In the long term, not much Clinton would do would impact my life as I’ve built it. But, the things she stands for do impact the lives of those I love, and because of that, it’s meaningful to me. I also believe in the greater good for our entire nation. If you want to tax the hell out of me so that several people on my street can afford a roof over their heads, a warm meal in their stomachs, and have a fighting chance at a good education–do it. I am not the be all, end all of this country.
I don’t get terribly personal, at least to this level, on my blog typically. But let me tell you how I got here. When I was 10 years old, my parents got divorced. For much of my life up to that point, we had a one-income household. My mom worked for a while and my dad was unemployed, and then my dad got a job and wanted my mom to stay home and raise the babies, so she did (with some odd jobs here or there–selling cleaning products, babysitting, etc.). When things started to get bad in their relationship, my mom got a job selling insurance and it was around that time that things got even worse and my mom left my dad. We moved into a rinky-dink house in the middle of nowhere, where all three of us kids shared one bedroom (though, to be honest, we eventually moved into a house where we could’ve all had our own room and instead decided to all share the same room again).
My dad was bitter about the divorce and didn’t treat my mom very well throughout any of it. He didn’t want to give up his hard-earned cash to pay child support, and so for a long time, he just didn’t. He also didn’t make much time to see any of us kids. That meant my mom not only cared for us full-time, but also provided for us full-time. I remember her working a lot of hours to make ends meet and to make sure we were happy and had all the things we wanted. It wasn’t easy though. She had a hard time affording food and, I didn’t learn this until years later, used to get deer meat from my uncle during hunting season just so she could save money by not having to get meat at a grocery store. (She also thought she fooled us when she’d saute it in spaghetti like she used to with ground beef, but I saw right through that.)
When things still weren’t adding up and she couldn’t make ends meet, we went on Food Stamps. This was back in the day before EBT cards were a thing and they gave you actual paper Food Stamps to give to the cashiers at the grocery store. There was, and still is, a huge stigma attached to Food Stamps and welfare in general, and I remember even at the age of about 12 being mortified that we were so poor that we had to use Food Stamps. We also got discounted lunches in school because my mom’s income was so low that we qualified for their 40-cent lunch program. Again, mortifying to be the poor kid in school, only paying 40 cents when other kids were paying $1.10.
Thinking about it now actually makes me cry a little bit because I know how hard my mom worked. I know how much she busted her ass to give us the best life she possibly could and rather than appreciating that, I was a rotten child who was embarrassed by it.
As I got older and learned more about government assistance programs, I grew to appreciate them instead of be embarrassed by them. I was so grateful that during that time in my life, my mom was able to get help to take care of us. And since then, it’s come into play in my life in other ways: I received unemployment benefits when my company downsized and I was laid-off for a few months; I received government grants to help pay for some of my college education; my mom (who has pre-existing conditions and had a hard time getting health insurance) and I (as a contractor) enrolled in “Obamacare” and finally had healthcare for the first time in years.
And then something else happened. My sister, Amanda, came out as a lesbian. I saw the way people treated her–as if she was the dirt below their feet because they thought she’d made a “choice” to be a lesbian. And then something even bigger happened: my lesbian sister, Amanda, came out as trans and began hormone therapy, had a surgery, and is now my brother, Anderson. I watched as my country turned, even more, on transgendered people than on gay people. I watched as people called transgender men and women pedophiles, rapists, perverts, and worse. I watched as people threw fits about transgendered people using the same bathrooms as them. And I was sickened. I watched the news about a man who entered a nightclub and killed 50 people because he couldn’t wrap his warped mind around the fact that they were LGBTQ. And I wept. I wept for those who died; for their families and friends; for my brother; for an entire community because this is the shit they face day in and day out.
Then I sat in my office one day listening to my project manager talk about how we need to close the office the following day because there was to be an anti-Islam rally a couple blocks from my office and 75% of my office is comprised of Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Moroccans, etc. and people with blind hatred are just that–blind. They see a brown person and they see a terrorist, regardless of where they’re from or what their religion is. We were all scared of what would happen if some ignorant asshole with a gun saw a brown person and lost their mind and killed them because they couldn’t mentally process it. And that day, I also cried. I cried that this is a world that I live in. One where 75% of my office can’t even go into work because of fear that they might be killed.
And on November 9th, my brown, beardy, Indian boyfriend called me and said, “I think I need to shave my beard now that Donald Trump has been elected.” And my brother texted me and said, “what’s going to happen to me if Mike Pence thinks that all gay people should be in jail? What about trans people?” And then my sister texted me and said, “how am I going to talk to my students? I work in a school that’s predominantly Muslim and minority–I only have one white student on my caseload.” And then I thought about my mom, in Nashville taking care of her ailing mother, who will probably soon lose her healthcare, and really cannot afford to. Last, I thought about my dad: a middle-aged, upper-class white male.. the only one who will not feel the impact of this election.
So, please, tell me again not to be sad about an election in which we chose a man who will cut public assistance; kill our national healthcare system; ban Muslims; build a wall to keep out Mexicans; will not increase minimum wage; is a sexual predator against women; has run businesses into the ground and walked away unscathed; will jail or “rehabilitate” LGBTQ people; and loses his cool when challenged.