I feel like I’m sitting in the ruins of something beautiful, something I loved, and something that is now utterly gone. I grieve, but not just for myself or the country, but for the future I thought we would make together.
So we did it. White America overwhelmingly voted a man who is in no way fit for the office into the presidency, because — why? I still don’t know.
Was it because we hated Hillary Clinton? I didn’t. I thought, and still think, that she is marvelous, and would have been an excellent president. But I know a lot of people did, for reasons that were real and — mostly — for reasons that 25 years of relentless, evil propaganda dropped in our collective brains.
Was it because we are sexist? We surely are. Hillary Clinton faced more intense scrutiny in both the primary and in the general election for less reason than any male candidate, ever. In 2008 she put 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling, and in 2016 she put 59 million more. But it wasn’t enough. White America had been through scary changes like having a black man be president and Muslims existing at all, and decided in our infinite stupidity that we had had enough of that, thank you. And so we threw our chances in with a man who thinks groping women is fine, just fine.
Was it because we are racist? Oh, yes. No one can deny it now, that white America is overwhelmingly so. How else could we stomach a man who called Mexicans rapists, who pledged to build a wall, who despised Muslims, and more and more and more? Before the 8th of November we could believe racism was just an isolated problem, even when people of color have been telling us the opposite for decades. Now we must finally face our racism. Because we shrugged it off, our country is on the verge of utter ruin.
Was it because our system is horribly flawed? It is. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. In any other country, she would be the president-elect and the world would be breathing a sigh of relief. But the antiquated Electoral College once again thwarted the will of the people, and here we are.
Was it because we were angry?
I think maybe this is the one that sticks with me the most. I think it was the heart of everything. White America, the majority of us that voted for Trump, anyway, was furious. I’ve never seen such anger. But why were they angry? The economy was recovering. We were beating ISIS. Crime was still falling.
But we fell for the old con that says, when there’s not a crisis to take advantage of, make one. The vicious men and women who spew hate online, on the radio, on television — they made this. They’ve been making it for 30 years and more.
We fell for it. White America was angry for no reason at all, in the end.
I hope we’re proud of ourselves. Our inability to see our own godawful flaws has allowed hatred to win. It has allowed a man who trumpets hate from a podium in front of vicious mobs who shout cruel slogans to become the President of the United States.
Because of that, I’m scared to death. My friends are scared. Will people I know and love be deported? Will the millions of people, some of them good and dear friends, whose health care comes from the Affordable Care Act lose coverage forever?
Will hate, racism, sexism, and bigotry come to rule us even more than they already do?
I don’t know. On Monday it seemed impossible. But the future I thought would happen is gone. So I mourn. I grieve. And I’m scared.
It’s easy to say that life will go on, and I suppose it will. But we won’t be what we could have been. A society that values tolerance, openness, respect, diversity, and truth will not happen here, and it will not happen now.
I have courage, and I have resolve. I’ll stay, I’ll fight.
But I no longer have faith. America is not the country I thought it could be.
To everyone hurting: take care of yourselves. Be with your families, and your friends. Find solace in your communities. Love one another. Be kind. Be together. We’ll face whatever happens next side-by-side. Maybe, someday, we’ll find our country.
And so we march onward, into the gathering storm.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
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