A New Normal

For the past week, I’ve struggled to articulate what I’m feeling -despair, rage, sadness, disgust, disbelief.  On November 8, our country elected a racist, bigoted, xenophobic sexual predator for president.  And this past week, I’ve been trying to come to terms with why and how that happened.  It’s something that I think analysts and pundits will be parsing through for years to come.  But this much is certain – I’m afraid.  I’m afraid for my country in a way that I haven’t been since 9/11.  This man has incited racial tensions in a way I haven’t seen in my life before.  And going on 60 Minutes to telling his supporters to “stop it” isn’t enough.  He’s condoned this behavior even before he was elected.  And how he got elected is something I am still trying to process.

I’ve read plenty of comments telling us to “get over it.” “Stop being whiny.”  If this were any other election cycle between two qualified candidates, I’d be disappointed if my candidate didn’t win.  But I wouldn’t feel the level of grief that I felt when Trump got elected.  I wouldn’t have woken up the next morning after the election and started sobbing.  But this has not been a normal election cycle.  This country did not elect a qualified man.  This country elected someone profoundly unqualified and a morally bankrupt human being.

I’m a woman.  I’m a feminist. I’m an immigrant.  I moved to this country when I was so tiny that I do not have memories of dwelling in the country of my birth.  But I was raised with two identities – my American one, and my Italian one.  I was fortunate to be raised around diversity and learned early on to accept other religions and cultures.  I became a US citizen when I was 21 and proudly voted for Obama in 2008, which was the first election I ever voted in.  I felt so much happiness and hope when he was elected.  And now, reading stories about violence against Muslims, African Americans, and other marginalized groups sickens and saddens me.  I am ashamed to share my country with these people who think it’s okay to bully and harass anyone, but especially because someone’s skin color or religion differs from theirs.

And now this bully, this demagogue, has been elected as our president.

I mourn.  As a woman, I mourn that my country would rather elect the most unqualified presidential candidate IN OUR COUNTRY’S HISTORY, a terrible man, rather than a competent, intelligent, qualified woman.  I mourn that my country has given its complicit acceptance of sexual assault and abuse of women.  And as a human being, I mourn and fear this president-elect’s terrible human rights violations that he’s embracing as “policies.”

And I don’t even have the time or the energy to discuss how terrible Mike Pence is as a human being.

And the question remaining is – how do we move forward?

While I refuse to respect a man who shows no respect to others, as an American I have to accept the results of this election, no matter how much I loathe and detest that decision.  We donate to causes needing our help with his election, such as Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.  Jezebel has a fantastic list .  Let’s use our anger to effect positive changes in our community by donating to these causes and volunteering. Let’s focus on working on ourselves to be better people and to show love and kindness to others.

And for the short term…it’s okay to grieve.  Watching my favorite late night talk show hosts – Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, comforted me.  For the first several days after the election, Boyfriend and I went out to dinner and ate our feelings.  We hung out with friends this weekend, which was comforting.

I don’t know what will happen the next four years. But we have to stay alert.  We have to be ready to protect our friends if they are harassed.  We have to show the country and the rest of the world that somewhere, everything that still made America so great is still here.  We don’t need this man to make it great again.

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