It has now been a full day since Election Night in America and I’ve finally had time to process the fact that Donald Trump will actually be leading my country for the next four years. I’m not going to lie, I wept. I cried when I went to sleep on Tuesday night because I just had a feeling. As much as I believe in the greater good of human kind, I also know that there are many people in America who are angry. Unfortunately, it seems that we are all angry and for different reasons. Some Americans are angry because they feel they are losing jobs and their livelihood and Donald Trump is going to save them somehow. Others are angry because they feel that our next president will be a hateful man who will marginalize groups of people and cause so much suffering and backwards social movement. I am in the latter group.
I don’t think I fully grasped what it meant to have a woman on the ballot for Presidency until she lost. I guess I grew up knowing that Hillary Clinton was a prominent female politician who always wanted to run for the leader of our country. For as many times as I’ve witnessed and experienced male aggression in my personal life I didn’t want to believe that that many people hate her simply because she is a woman. Sure, there are political beliefs and difficult decisions she has made that many do not agree with but that’s not what I am getting at. She was constantly demonized for circumstances beyond her control-her husband’s choices, her fashion choices, her face, her susceptibility to “mood swings” aka hormones cause a woman to be incapable of making rational decisions. None of these things would ever stop a man from entering office (or even be discussed). In fact, her actual qualifications for the job worked against her as the public tore apart every difficult decision she ever made (which unfortunately, is a part of being a leader).
I woke up yesterday morning and felt as if I was in shock. I already had a text message from two friends expressing their genuine fear. “How will I get my birth control?” one of them asked me; while the other merely expressed extreme sorrow. I myself felt as if I had been sexually assaulted all over again. For me, this election was not about political parties, it was about telling women and minorities that they still don’t matter. It was about instilling fear in people to scare them from using their voices. I think I finally understand what life must be like for minorities in America. I try to check my privilege when I discuss sensitive topics because I know I am extremely lucky to have been born middle class and white yet yesterday I understood more than ever why #BlackLivesMatter. Because no one should ever have to live in fear and although I have experienced traumatic life events, I’ve never experienced the fear of violence based on the color of my skin or the country I was born in.
This is not to say that I do not emphasize with the concerns of many men and women who voted for Donald Trump. I understand that there are many people who are working hard to making ends meet and want to make a living wage. But this is something that comes from working together between parties. It does not come by encouraging your supporters to beat up protestors, making fun of disabled persons, immigrants, veterans, etc. I don’t even need to link these examples because everyone in America knows the stories and I’m exhausted by all of the hate.
More than anything though, this week I’ve thought of my 2 year old niece. Of how I am already incredibly proud of the strong, independent women she is going to grow up to be and how I want more than anything to be a strong role model for her. I hope that she never has to hear Donald Trump give a speech (and I’m confident that she is young enough to avoid this) about hate and division, nor be subjected to his views on how to treat women. I want her to know that her voice always matters, that no means NO, and that she should never be silenced or shamed for having an idea whether its a good one or not.
Now that the dust has settled and the reality is kicking in, I have a renewed sense of purpose. There is a strong chance I may run for some sort of elected office one day because of this election. If not for office, I will at least spend my life working to defend women’s rights. It is because of Hillary Clinton that I feel like this is even a possibility. She may have not won the Presidency but she has started a fire in women across this country. I have always been and will forever be grateful for her ability to carry on even in the face of criticism irrelevant to her work. I may not agree with every political move she’s made but still, #Imwithher and I always will be.