This most recent, seemingly endless, election cycle has left many Americans feeling conflicted, angry, disenfranchised, and fearful.
Last week’s election outcome has made all of this more amplified.
As a sexual abuse surviving, secularly Jewish atheist, homeschooling, feminist, single mother with scant financial resources, and health-related physical limitations (self and youngest offspring), the state of our union feels volatile.
I’ve spent these last ten days feeling like I’m blinking through a bad dream. Social civility has been redefined as Politically Correct, a term derided by the GOP; the same political party which now has control of the whole house (literally).
I wake each morning not sure I want to get out of bed. I’ve begun contemplating the value of showering.
I tell myself I’ll go food shopping, do laundry, clean the house, pay bills, do those dishes, cook a meal – all of it ‘tomorrow’. I’m not sharing in order to celebrate this state of mind. Frankly, I’m stunned at the depth of my sadness. Intellectually, if we’d discussed this Trump outcome a month ago, I would’ve known it would feel awful.
But I wasn’t prepared.
I wasn’t prepared to feel so frightened.
I wasn’t prepared to feel so angry.
I wasn’t prepared to feel so overwhelmed by sadness.
Voter turnout for the primaries (Feb, 2016) and the general election (Nov, 2016) were truly shameful.
I try to take comfort in knowing that it’s unlikely 50% of those people I encounter voted for Hate. As a matter of fact, many Trump supporters say they voted for “change from the status quo” which they hope will result in lower health insurance premiums. They, too, say they’re saddened when hearing of the enormous increase in hate crimes across the country, and in calls to crisis hotlines.
I remind myself that more than 50% of voters chose liberal presidential candidates.
But the starker, more painful truth is this: 50% voted for Apathy, by failing to vote at all.
Of those who did vote, 25% voted for a man whose lifestyle boasts Elite and out-of-touch. Some Trump voters feel he doesn’t represent their own values (I can’t imagine voting for a candidate whose core message doesn’t resonate with me). They just believed he could deliver something different.
Trump’s loud, hateful rhetoric was devoid of policy, plans, or consistent meaning. Say you’re great and they’ll believe you. Say you’re successful and they won’t fact-check. Say you’re winning and you’ll win. Turns out, he was right. This election taught us: Volume does speak louder than content; sound bites win over substance; delusional self-promotion is glitzier and far more appealing than inclusivity or compassion.
Since the election, I’ve had a recurring and awful dream. Each new piece of chaotic news from TrumpCentral trusts me back to this:
Imagine you are pregnant, and discover you’re having a healthy baby. And it’s a girl! Wow. You wrap your head around this shock, and discover it feels warm and peaceful.
You eat well, and take good care of yourself.
You prepare your home for that eventual baby girl and, since the pregnancy is progressing very well, you even risk naming her.
Your labor begins, so you head to the birthing center.
Your labor is productive and all is going smoothly.
Then everything suddenly changes. There’s confusion, as hospital staff quickly put you under, and do an emergency C-section.
You wake, and your nurse tells you that you are fine, but she’s sorry to report your baby is missing.
You’re freaking out, and trying to stay level headed; hospital administration assures you it’ll all work out and insist you just chill out, they’ve got this under control.
Hours later, they come to tell you your baby’s been found! Gee whiz, they say, baby was just accidentally left in a closet. It’s all okay now! And they hand you a bundle.
You unwrap the blankets to discover this is NOT your baby. It’s a screaming baby boy, and besides, he looks nothing at all like you or your mate. You try to set this right, and find your baby girl, but they insist this red-faced screaming child is really yours. You must be crazy!
So you try to get your head and heart around all of this (Golly, we’ll probably even laugh about this one day!). It’s no big deal, you tell yourself.
I’ll love him no matter what, you whisper.
You hold him to your breast, but he’s still screaming. You do everything you can to understand and console him, but nothing works.
You repeat: No big deal, it’ll all be fine.
But now he’s perfected that screaming, and he’s hitting notes which shatter glass and make ears bleed.
And he’s acquired the freakish ability to grow far too quickly. He’s still a new baby, but he’s huge, rampaging through the house, shouting commands, throwing things, hitting other children (is that a steak knife in his pocket?!) and ohgod, he may have done something to the kitty. Kitty?
You’re sleepless, worried, and can’t seem help him feel calm or loved.
You aren’t able to control his bad behavior; he’s out of control. He’s bombed the neighbor’s home (how did he get those explosives??) and crashed your car.
But he’s your responsibility. Yours to fix.
Now, where’s that cat?
No, I wasn’t prepared. Many of us weren’t.
I’m trying to rally. I’m writing, talking, reading. I’m showering. I’ll evaluate, and hope for a beautifully surprising change for the better.
But I am not holding my breath.
- I’ve inserted a photo of safety pins, above.
The Safety Pin movement is considered controversial by some. I don’t agree.No, it’s not considered a ‘fashion accessory’ by those who are moved to wear it.
The pin is a message to anyone feeling vulnerable that you are safe. In the US these days, that would be LGBTQ, females, and Muslim people in particular). It signals you will help. You are safe to sit next to on a train. That you’ll help or talk or escort. Is wearing a pin all you should do? Absolutely not. However, I believe that any measure taken, no matter how small, which can communicate Safe Space to a person who feels frightened/vulnerable can’t be a bad thing..