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Another Election Think Piece

Written One Year Ago, Immediately After the Results of the 2016 Election

It was nice to see a succinct picture, a sentiment shared by thousands like me, that with a click of a button could speak for me and my feelings about what has happened in this country.

But no one speaks for me but me.

So I wanted to use this platform to explain something very important about the results of this election.

It is not going to be OK.

Don’t click away. Hear me out.

For me, for a white person who has a great job and is still on my parents' health insurance, for a privileged straight passing woman who has a car and her own house and lives in a good part of town, it’ll be OK. I’ll be fine. No one is going to target me. No one is going to hurl degrading things at me anymore than they already do. (I am a woman after all.)

Many people do not seem to understand that this election was never about policies. It was never about what Donald or Hillary could do for the country. It was what they would do TO our country.

Whether you agree with his policies or not you can’t deny the spike in hate crimes against Muslims, Latinos, LGBT people, and people of color since he started his campaign.

He did not lay hands on a single person. So in a way, his defenders are correct. He is not the one doing these hateful things.

He is the one who emboldened the fearful and hateful and divided in this nation to do those things themselves.

His trickle down effect was astronomical. Hate groups and secret racists, bigots, homophobes, felt encouraged, felt brave enough to speak their mind.

Speaking your mind is an American right. The first amendment gives you the right to free speech, petition, press, protest, and religion. (Interesting how some love to speak their mind but tend to dislike those who practice the last two in that list.)

It is only when your free speech impedes on the human rights of others that people are upset by it. You are allowed to say you dislike Muslims. You are not allowed to pass laws prohibiting them from entering the country. That’s unconstitutional.

However, people latched on to the idea of taking away rights from those that were “other.”

They feel forgotten, they feel overlooked, they feel that this is the fault of the “other.”

So they spoke up. They elected someone who said he would protect them from the “other.” They, either proudly or unconsciously, ignored the fact that this man did not have a lick of experience. They may have even welcomed it. They didn’t want another politician in office.

I had hoped the day we rebelled against a rigged primary election, it wouldn’t be in favor of a reality TV star who believed global warming wasn’t real.

I had hoped when we revolutionized the government I would stand proudly with those people, demanding corruption and greed be thrown out on the streets.

And perhaps this will happen, but it will happen at the expense of basic human rights.

And unfortunately, I believe the blame can be placed in the hands of the DNC.

We had a candidate who was the antithesis of the person who was clearly going to win the republican ticket. He believed in the things that were important to the youth of America. He inspired many of us, myself included, to care. To vote.

And his party deliberately hindered his campaign to hand the nomination to someone who had a checkered past. Someone who was qualified beyond measure but was well-disliked by most of America because of multiple reasons, mostly because she was a career politician and we were sick of those.

And he supported her. Because he wanted party unity. He knew the cards were against him, and he put his pride aside and supported her and encouraged his supporters to do the same.

And so, because the DNC handed the nomination to Hillary on a silver platter, the public strung her up in the town square and butchered her.

She became the poster child for everything that was wrong and corrupt with our government.

People who voted for her are not blind to her shortcomings. I promise you some of us did it with a bad taste in our mouths. But we understood the long term outcome. It came down to “well, this one has experience and cares about human rights.” And “this one doesn’t and doesn’t.”

And the people spoke.

Rather, the electoral college spoke.

And they said “we don’t want someone in office who had the system rigged in her favor.”

Fair enough.

On Donald Trump’s website, he has removed the page detailing his ban on Muslims. He has said he will protect LGBT people. He has said transgender people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they’re comfortable in.

All of these things are a complete 180 from his campaign. He has changed his mind on all of these things since Tuesday.

But it doesn’t matter. Even if he turned out to be the most compassionate, intelligent, level-headed, progressive president we’ve ever seen, it does not matter.

He laid the groundwork for hate.

He encouraged violence against people who disagreed with him. Those words did not fall on deaf ears. It has already been happening around our country.

This is what a lot of his supporters don’t seem to understand. He does not have to do anything. He doesn’t have the authority to take away the rights of the people, not really. All he had to do, and all he did, was ignite a fire of hatred within our country. A lot of them say we have to unite and put our differences aside to support the president elect.

I appreciate the sentiment.

But how do you unite a country when half of them hate the other half?

How do you stand side by side when it is very clear that the person next to you wants you kicked out of the country?

How do you sing Kumbayah with your neighbor when they want your marriage made criminal again?

We will learn to accept our president because we have no choice. But I fear that he has divided us so intensely that we will never be united again.

I wish with all of my heart that I will be proven wrong.

Because for the people who have been targeted throughout the campaign of the president elect, the “others,” it will probably not be OK. They face assault, harassment, destruction, vandalism, battery, murder, rape, robbery on a scale even larger than before.

The epitome of hate, the white hooded white supremacists known as the KKK, are holding a victory parade for the president elect.

Because they are inspired by his rhetoric to be braver, bolder, more hateful than ever before.

Don’t tell those who have the most to lose to get over it, to shut up, to accept it.

Don’t sit there, privileged and unaffected, brave because you face no consequence, and say that it will be OK.

So what do we do?

We rage. We yell. We grieve and hurt.

And we start at the most intimate level of human interaction to be the change. Person to person. Hand to hand.

We who are privileged become a safe haven for those who are not.

We who can speak up, should.

We who cannot, should seek out those who can.

Let me and others like me lift you up. Let me and others like me shine so brightly in our campaign for kindness and love that we can overshadow the dark underbelly of America that has risen up.

Let us love even those who hate us. Or let us pretend to, at least, because we are only human, and it is hard to smile in the face of the ones who spit on you.

Because I know it is not going to be OK for some of you. But I will not let four years of my life, four years of potential for change, just evaporate because we feel hopeless, defeated, oppressed.

We can still be the change.

We can still be heard.

It starts here. On this level.

Seek out those who are like minded for equality and start the change.

Maybe we can’t revolutionize the people who think they can tell us what to do.

But we can, without a doubt, revolutionize kindness and compassion.

And we can make each other’s lives a little brighter.

So for those of you who think like me, who still believe in the power of equality and compassion, do not give in to the bystander effect. Do not be idle. Do not be silent.

Stand. Speak. Fight. Love.

Love. Love. Love.

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