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Revisiting Election Night 2016

The Beginning of the End of Decency in America

The morning of November 9, 2016 when I was still reeling from the reality of what had happened the night before with the election, I needed to put into words how I felt. I needed to exorcise from my body the fear, shock and anger that was consuming me. I had to find a way to put my rampant emotions onto paper so that I could make sense of them. I needed to put them to rest before they drove me mad.

I had a deep-seeded inner feeling of dread, that Trump’s elevation to the office of U.S. President was the beginning of the end of democracy, of sanity and reason, of truth, justice and liberty. I visualized the ending in the original Planet of the Apes movie, of the Statue of Liberty destroyed and in pieces, and sensed a more literal symbolism in that image than may have been realistic at the time. Now, I’m not so sure my fears weren’t spot on.

When I was quick to make apocalyptic prophecies about what Trump’s influence would have around the globe, I was laughed at and mocked. I was told I was overreacting. I was told to "stop being such an emotional woman". As the days of Trump’s first term have progressed into months and now years, I believe that everything I felt after he was elected was completely justified. I was not overreacting. Seeing how things are now, I wish to God I had been wrong.

On the evening of November 9, 24 hours after Trump won the election, I was finally able to put my thoughts into words in a way that gave me a small sense of peace and acceptance. I’m not sure now, looking back at those words, what I was trying to accomplish, other than preserving my sanity. 

 I do know that at the time of speaking my truth, it was the first time I spoke collectively for women. It was the first time I ever admitted that I had been traumatized at the hands of men. It was the first time I felt afraid for my daughter, and what trauma she might experience as she grew up. I was afraid for her, and I was afraid for all girls and women.

I did the absolute best that I could to try and maintain a positive outlook, to have faith that the good in America would win out over everything that Trump represented, but I’m not sure I succeeded. One thing I can say for sure, though, is that with everything I envisioned over the first two years of Trump’s presidency, I thought democracy and decency would prevail in the end.  Perhaps it may still, but at what cost?  How long will it take for America to recover from the damage Trump has done, and is continuing to do?

I didn’t want to be part of the problem; as a peacekeeper, I wanted to bridge the gap between those for and against Trump. I didn’t want to make enemies of any of my family and friends who may have been pro-Trump. Two years ago, I still maintained a sense of hope. 

 A lot has changed since then. I have no problem unfriending someone who still supports Trump, who believes his lies, and who harbours intolerance in their souls. Some things, some people, are just not worth the aggravation of trying to find a common middle ground, because some people are just not willing to meet you halfway.

I remember the anger escalating within me as Trump’s supporters all over Facebook and Twitter that Wednesday morning after the election were being cocky and entitled. They were laughing at the Hillary supporters, at the “stupid” Democrats who didn’t vote because they were too sure of her victory.

As I look back now at what I posted to Facebook on the evening of November 9, I realize it was my first, if not overtly subtle, #MeToo moment. I'm glad now that I published those words on Facebook then for my friends and family to see, because I would never remember exactly how I felt on that day without them. These are the words I wrote that night:

I refuse to let myself feel victimized and bullied for my feelings about the election and the candidates, and I will not be silenced. As a woman who grew up in the 70s and 80s my intense feelings about Trump are deeply personal and are not mine alone. These deeply complex emotions that make me fear Trump, are also the same reasons I was invested in a strong woman for President, however flawed and human she may be.

I take comfort in knowing so many are vocalizing these same thoughts, and I feel comforted that many others were crying in despair in Hillary’s defeat along with me. No, she is not perfect, and I didn’t even realize until last night how strongly I wanted her, needed her, to win out against everything Trump stands for.

We are disillusioned, so forgive us for our devastation as we readjust to the new reality. We are trying to come to grips with the harsh truth that equality does not and did not ever truly exist. We were under the misguided impression that our daughters would grow up feeling safer than we did; that they wouldn’t have to experience the things we endured and suffered through, alone and in silence, because it was a man’s world and we couldn’t do anything to fight back.

We thought the world had finally changed and grown up, and that our daughters would one day be able to walk alone to the corner store without being traumatized by a random act from a strange man; or wait at a bus stop alone without being groped by an old man while onlookers did nothing to help. So many stories are coming out from women everywhere, sharing their stories of violation, and last night reminded us that nothing has changed.

So please, all you Trump supporters, give us time to grieve as we lost so much more than just an election last night. We also lost our innocence all over again as we relived a lifetime of trauma at the hands of men like Trump.

As America is leading up to the crucial mid-term elections less than a month from today, sleep and a sense of inner peace and calm get harder and harder to come by. Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS confirmation has stirred up a veritable wildfire from both the left and the right, and both sides are claiming victory ahead of the election.

Everyone around the globe will be watching the returns come in on the evening of November 6, and we won’t know for sure until that night where America truly stands. If the Republicans retain control of the legislative branches, we will all know what part Russia has played in destroying America’s democracy. If the Democrats win, everyone knows the conspiracy theories that will spew from the forked tongue in Trump’s mouth about voter fraud and cheating at the hands of the Democrats. No matter what happens, while Trump remains in the White House, America is going to lose.

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