This morning following the vote tally, had Hillary Clinton been elected, some of you would have faced the day in annoyance, perhaps grumbled in anger over your coffee, and complained to your family, friends, and co-workers whilst clocking in to work.
Yet how many have you would have woken up to the news in abject fear for yourself and your children, your life, as you know it?
How many of you would have felt true grief to the point that you cried as you readied yourself for work, your children for school because your heart – so in love with your town and country – was just broken by betrayal? At best – at best – I feel as though my country just filed for divorce from me and mine. At best. I have many friendships with wonderful people in this community that survive because of our unspoken (and sometimes spoken) “agree to disagree” rule and generally stay away from politics. Yet how can I not take this one personally? And this is my struggle now.
How many of you would have felt compelled to tell their kids – while wiping tears from your brown and female skin – to be calm and stay strong in the face of the evident disrespect and hatred of their own community? To get through the day all the while knowing that your community lacks empathy, and while you’d known it possessed its racists (every community does), the realization that your entire town, state and country basically came out of its collective Hate Closet and now you feel that you walk with a target on your back.
Working at the News-Argus is an experience I’ve found surprisingly delightful; I enjoy coming in to work, learning about what’s new in our community, helping to share the news for Central Montana. But now I find myself in a conundrum: How on earth am I supposed to care about our small town community events when with one election tally, my community showed me it’s complete lack of feeling and care about me and mine. Pre-election, it was bad enough, but I got through the hate diatribe by telling myself that it’s venting. People will realize that what works locally simply isn’t feasible on the grand, international scale. It’s just a select few. It’ll be fine. No worries.
Yet a man openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan – and do I really need to describe who these people are? – will be ascending the steps of the White House come January.
How is this not a problem for the people of Lewistown, Montana and the United States? How does the fact that this is okay for so many not strike pure horror in one’s soul?
People I thought I knew dismissed my concerns with, “She’s upset because Hillary lost and she’s probably a Hillary supporter.”
This is incorrect. My being in tears this morning as I woke my children up and braced to face the day actually had little to do with Hillary losing the electoral vote (ironically, “the system’s” vote) and everything to do with no longer feeling even a false sense of safety and security in my own community, my own country. The fact that so many willingly and even enthusiastically voted for someone who incites violence both on a general scale and onto women specifically, who wants to strip away one’s basic civil rights is what upsets me.
Myself, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the thought of another Clinton presidency. But at least I knew I’d be able to get through the four years intact. Perhaps annoyed because typical American politics, but perhaps even pleased with how things turned out both nationally and internationally in the future. I basically expected the usual imperfect governmental system that’s been our country’s base since 1776, and I hoped for (some) improvements overall.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Hasan Minhaj expressed my feelings beautifully when he said, “You personally may not be a racist, sexist xenophobe, but that comes with the package. So if you take that deal, what you’re telling me is, ‘Hey, man. I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.'”
However, the knowledge that Trump will be the next leader of the Free World leaves me feeling nothing but violated, unclean, and without a voice to scream for help. Forget “first world”; with Trump elected we can kiss that status goodbye. “Third world” just got upgraded. Welcome to the Fourth World, my fellow Montanans, my fellow Americans.