I woke up this morning, way before I should have, and caught my breath in the dark; remembering what happened last night. I keep reading articles and posts on social media imploring us to move forward with support and kindness toward each other. I also see so much despair, disbelief, and sadness in my news feed. My social network is overflowing with similar feelings to mine, mirroring my emotions. But maybe that is the problem. Maybe that is what got us here, to this place we are today—A nation truly divided.
Beyond the confines of my social groups, my Facebook friends, my favorite news sites and reporters, there is profound joy, gratitude, and rejoicing at the very same news which shook me to my core. On election night, as the states on our country map kept turning red, it was a visual of how far apart my ideals and values are from the majority of my country. At least that is how it feels today.
I have read the pleas from several eloquent, seasoned reporters and news personalities, to continue the conversation so that we can heal our nation. As Dan Rather so eloquently put it:
The world is on edge. The country is deeply divided…Huge segments of the American public are in panic – going through the shock of grief. This is the world that is now Trump’s to contend with. Do we really know what we have wrought? This is a conversation that I need you to be a part of. Do not opt out. Your voice matters now more than ever.
It seems insurmountable to find a path forward right now, when I do not see myself reflected in the values and beliefs of my leader. But I have to try. For our kids, our women, our people of color, our LGBT community, and the America that I believe we are; I have to try.
My son is going to come downstairs this morning wondering about the outcome of last night’s election, he is going to look to me for assurance that we will all be OK. I don’t know how to put him at ease, when I need reassuring myself. Will we be ok?
Our new president has insulted countless groups of people based on color, gender, economic status, body type and disabilities. He has lied. He has name-called. He has threatened. He has said things about, and done things to women, that are unimaginable to me from the leader of our great nation.
But now it is all OK. He has permission. Everyone taking their cues from him about how to treat each other, has permission too. At least, that is how it feels to me today. But in an effort to be the change I wish to see in the world—and set an example for my kids. I am not going to make assumptions. I am going to ask for clarification. I want to have a productive, much-needed conversation. I want to share my feelings in hopes that you will share yours. I want to talk. I want to listen. I want to try to understand.
So here goes, absent of sarcasm, snark, or any tone of condescension.
This is how I feel today.
I am scared because it feels like your vote says it’s allowed to devalue women, reduce them to objects- to be judged and ranked. The shirts and slogans, Trump That Bitch, Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica, Donald Trump, Finally Someone With Some Balls, and She’s a Cunt Vote For Trump, were not funny. They scared me. They were offensive, threatening, abusive and denigrating to women. Do you feel that way? Do you hate us? Do you think we are less?
I am worried because it feels like your vote says it’s ok to lash out and ridicule people’s physical features, body types, or anything that comes to mind, as a way to disagree with their point of view. Do you really feel this way? Should name calling and put downs be part of productive discourse? Do you condone it?
I am ashamed because it feels like your vote says that people of color are less than, are all poverty stricken and uneducated, are terrorists and criminals. Do you agree with this? Is that really what your vote means?
I am frightened because It feels like your vote says it’s reasonable to threaten others with physical violence if they offer a differing viewpoint. Is this ok? Will threats and fear become prevalent in our political climate? In our society as a whole?
I am sad because it feels like your vote says that loving families made up of two same-sex partners do not qualify as a family; do not deserve to benefit from the basic rights that all married couples benefit from in important matters of medical emergencies, health care, and child guardianship. Will couples lose their same-sex marriage benefits and not be allowed to marry or have civil unions?
I am fearful because it feels like your vote means women will lose life-saving and preventative reproductive health care; resulting in substandard procedures, unnecessary suffering, and a loss of decision-making power over our reproductive rights—even in situations where the mother and baby’s lives are at risk. Will this happen?
I have so many more questions, but this feels like enough to start the conversation.
As I drove home this morning from dropping my kids off at school, I passed a neighbor’s house, a Trump supporter. He had a large sign on his lawn that said, Thank You America. I was crying in my car, with a head full of unknowns and worries. I wanted to pull over and knock on his door and ask if we could talk. But remembering his truck, a permanent fixture in front of his house for the last year, with signs like: Lock Her Up, Lies Lies Lies, and Hillary For Prison, I was not brave enough to stop.
But I want to be brave enough to start the conversation somehow. I don’t want to know how everything would have been worse if Hillary had been elected. I don’t want to talk about her emails or Benghazi. Believe it or not, I don’t want to talk about Donald Trump or any of the statements he’s made, or actions he’s taken, that make me so worried for the future. I don’t want to know why you didn’t vote for Hillary, I want to know why you voted for Trump? (With no sarcasm or insinuation, honestly.)
I want to talk about what happens now? What did your vote for Trump mean to you? Why do you feel he is the best leader for us? How do you see our nation coming together again and healing? Who do you see in your vision of our country? What does America look like to you when it is Great Again? Do we all have a place in it?
I am one of those Americans going through shock and grief. In grief it is hard to see beyond; to imagine the healing. I have more questions than I have answers and I feel helpless. In an effort to find a path forward, and to heal; we need to have the hard conversation. Let’s start talking, respectfully and openly. I am listening. I will not opt out, will you?