My Political Hangover: Hope is the Remedy

Donald Trump is president-elect of the United States of America.

It’s something I never thought I would write — but it’s happened. The news has shocked the majority of voters, as the majority of polls did not predict this, and Hillary Clinton ultimately claimed the popular vote. The shock was clear last night when the anchors and news reporters covering Election Night couldn’t believe it was happening. Analysis went from “Well, he could …” to “Wow, he is …” to “Um, he did …”

This day after, I am heartbroken. It’s akin to when I found out that a man I was falling in love with had been cheating on me. Only, in this situation, that man is the USA. This might sound like a dramatic analogy, but it’s authentic. This is the level of shellshocked-ness that I feel. It cuts deep, and reverberates.

I keep thinking about my Mexican friends. My Muslim friends. My African-American friends. My LGBT friends. My fierce females. All of the segments of the population that Trump rattled and offended in a very caustic way. For the sake of the diverse social fabric of this country, something I cherish and love dearly, I cannot help but hold my breath in fear and anticipation.

But, I also hold out hope … hope that the racism, xenophobia and misogyny exhibited during this election was just part of the circus. That it wasn’t what got this man elected. That, deep down, it was something more meaningful than prejudiced emotion.

This could be me being terribly naive. But I live in an intellectual bubble here in Chicago, and on social media. I’m aware of that. My friends are like me, we share the same values. I don’t need to be dialoguing with them all of the time. True learning comes from looking beyond your comfortable borders. (This is why I love traveling the way I do.)

Even during this election, I would read conservative websites, just so I could try and have a more balanced framework of country sentiment. I wanted to understand the Trump thing, even if it was hard to do so. And when I would drive through rural parts of Indiana and Michigan that were well-outside the city limits, I noticed all of the Trump/Pence signs. These are areas that most city slickers and journalists usually don’t penetrate; but these areas also make up much of America. Not everyone is like me, thinks like me, has the same privileges as me. So I knew there was a chance that Trump might win, even in my HRC bubble, even with all of the polls suggesting otherwise.

Ultimately, that’s what’s come to pass. It’s a shock, but life goes on.

To all the people who are frustrated and angry and voted for Trump because he spoke to them in a way no other politician has — I hear you. I don’t want you to feel or be marginalized. That’s not what this country is about. I’m glad that you voted and made your collective voices heard. I hope that Washington takes note and this helps to re-shape political dialogue positively down the road.

To all of the people who are frustrated and angry (many in mourning) because Trump has been elected — I hear you. But please, let’s move forward together with an open mind while intelligently defending the unifying values and principles that make this nation great.

After this brutally disgusting election, we must all make an effort to heal. This will take courage and compassion. We can do it.

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