I had planned to write a blog post last night, the eve of the election, detailing my thoughts on the last few months: the deepening divide that I have been seeing on Facebook, in my real life, and in the world between those who supported Hillary and those who supported Trump. One of our neighbors has not only stopped talking to us, but has stopped acknowledging our presence, and the only thing I can point to is that it about coincided with the time I started sharing political articles on my personal Facebook page. I've seen countless friends and family tell Trump supporters to unfriend them. I've seen friends and family say terrible things about Hillary supporters, too (but today that doesn't seem to matter much, and I haven't checked yet for gloating or celebratory posts). What I wanted to say last night, was that no matter what happens, we must come together. When you reach a fork in the road if you look at it one way, the road splits. If you look at it the other, two different roads come together.
But after spending two hours obsessively checking election results before I realized that I had already given myself a panic attack and was on the verge of something worse, I couldn't bring myself to write that post. It didn't seem relevant anymore. I listed new items on my website. I sporadically checked Facebook for the varying degrees of disappointment and despair that my liberal, Seattle, friends and family displayed. Then I went to bed. In bed I asked my husband to tell me something comforting. "I love you." He said. "That's not comforting." I responded. But it should be.
Had Hillary won the Electoral College vote, I would be writing how we need to come together to heal ourselves as friends, family, neighbors, and as a country. How we needed to not only acknowledge that the issues that drove so many Americans to vote for Trump are legitimate, and need to be addressed by our politicians if we want to have a functioning country. And on a micro-level, if we want to have functioning relationships. Though I've certainly been frustrated by the extreme views on the "other side", I have never unfriended, blocked, or unfollowed anyone for their political beliefs. I am still polite to my neighbors, I still love my family, and I recognize that they are entitled to hold beliefs that are different than mine. We don't have to see eye-to-eye on everything, but we do have to find a way to get along.
Before I went to bed last night I saw many, many, angry posts at Trump voters. I saw family members tell their Facebook kin to not talk to them anymore, "if you voted for Trump, unfriend me" they said. With swear words. And that was the point where I couldn't take it and went to bed. Now, reflecting on my husband's words of "comfort," I realize he said exactly the right thing. Take that hate, that frustration, that you have in your heart and throw it the fuck away. Replace it with something brighter, something more beautiful, something you want to carry with you. Replace it with love.
Whether I knew it or not, his words resounded deep inside my soul. This morning I was helping my son get dressed for school and a wave of gratitude washed over me. I am so thankful, I thought, for these little people. For this family. And as I was brushing my teeth I thought, I would give up my right to marry if it meant that the LGBTQ community could have theirs. And as I was sitting in a meeting I get this message from someone who I know didn't vote for Trump or Hillary (but we're in Washington so it didn't really matter - Hillary had 75% ish of the vote here):
So I'm kind of in mourning as I figure out why we did what we did last night. That said, if EVER you need support to protect the rights of citizens this serves as a blanket commitment to be there with you. The citizens have some hard work this next four years and I for one am committed to keeping is from becoming barbarians. I know we don't see eye to eye on some things. But decency and protection of life and liberties for EVERYONE I hope and pray we hold in common. Not sending this kind of message to many. In fact you're the first as I continue to figure out what "next" looks like. Love to you and yours,
And I started crying. I started crying because I know I don't need to say "let's come together" because we already are. Democrats pride themselves on a platform of being inclusive, of fighting for a variety of groups of people who are different from themselves - women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ, to name a few. Michelle Obama said "When they go low, we go high" and is there truly a road higher than working with those who you have opposed on such a fundamental level during this election season, and finding a way to work together? We all want a better America, and I truly believe that there is a common ground. We just need to listen to each other and fight for it.
Perhaps the most comforting thing that anyone could have told me is exactly those three little words that came out of my husband's mouth. And so I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say it:
I LOVE YOU.
And you know what's more? I love this crazy, fucked up, country that we're in. And on the day that I thought I would be celebrating the election of the first female POTUS, I'm saying it with twice as much force. We've relied on our government to take care of us for too long. We've been complacent. On this morning after the election, what I see is a nation of people who are ready to speak up and speak out. Who are ready to defend their rights and the rights of those they love, and are ready to stand together no matter what may come (and truly, who in the world knows what's going to happen with President Trump? I'm certain even he doesn't know what he will face and be able to accomplish as president).
What I never expected to have happen to me on the morning after Donald Trump was elected president is that I would suddenly become a patriot. So many people jokingly talk about moving out of the country, but how will we fix what is broken if we don't fight for it? Seeing how many people are ready to stay and fight for a better America makes me love this country more than I thought I could. So as we stand at this fork, I'm looking at two roads coming together. Yes, this may be the end of the America as we know it, but that means that it can also be the beginning of a new, stronger, America if we work together and fight for a country that is better for us all.
I heard someone say that we are stronger together.
I'd ask if you were with me, but I know you are.