by Benn Ray
Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, after it was clear America was going to have Donald Trump in charge of the Executive Branch and Republicans in charge of the Legislative and Judicial branches, I laid in bed the entire night having one very long anxiety attack. I didn't sleep, I couldn't sleep. Instead, I just kept running over in my mind every decent thing accomplished in the past 8 years that would now be undone. I tried to imagine the raft of system-rigging, petulant and punitive legislation Republicans would now be passing into law - and admittedly, from 3AM til 7:30 AM, when I finally got up for the Morning After, I was aware I had only scratched the surface.
For the next 2 days, I was buried deep in depression. All I wanted to do was sleep. I had to stay way from social media because I just couldn't bear the vicious gloating from friends and family who so disappointingly voted for Trump, but I also couldn't bear the predictable finger-pointing and self-devouring of the left. And I couldn't turn on NPR or watch any TV news or even the "topical" humor/political satire shows that I tend to watch. I just didn't want to hear it. And frankly, I still don't.
Basically, I felt that we had just suffered a self-inflicted, national tragedy of historic proportions, but that the healing couldn't start because the actual tragedy doesn't begin until mid-January when it will go on for four years.
But I knew I would get out of the depression, and that when I did, anger is where I would be residing for the next four years. And I think I'm finally there.
Part of getting me there was a surprisingly therapeutic Writers Under The Influence event in Eightbar last night. Poetry. Who knew?
So my recommendation to friends still upset about the way Tuesday turned out is go out to a friendly place and have drinks with some friends. Maybe spend a few hours thinking or talking about something else - don't worry, the conversation will eventually come back to where we are as a country, but you'll feel better, you'll feel a little more normal.
Part of it was talking to my friend Joel who had asked me if I had heard about all these new incidents of racist, KKK and Nazi attacks on people by those now emboldened by Trump's ascension to the highest office of the land, and, given my self-imposed media (social and otherwise) exile, I hadn't. But the prospect of fighting Nazis has me downright giddy. The experience of playing video games has shown me that when fighting baddies, the most satisfying is fighting Nazis and zombies - and suddenly, America seems to be overrun by both.
And part of it was the stupid, gloating, ignorant and unhelpful comments from family and friends I saw on social media when curiosity finally got the best of me and I peeked in to see what was going on.
So here I am, on anger. Rage. But it's also built upon a foundation of profound sadness and disappointment at what my country has just done to itself for the nastiest of reasons. What I mean to say is, I'm angry - but I have not yet reached white hot, pure anger. But I feel it. I see it burning in the distance, and I am now ready to embrace it. If I'm being honest, I'm longing to embrace it.
First, my own shame. I really didn't believe this could happen. Even when it seemed like it was going to happen, I tried to offer false hope to my friends around me that this couldn't really happen. I am not prone to offering false hope - for me, that bullshit is a cardinal sin, and I apologize. I just saw so many people around me freaking out, and I refused to believe that my country could make what is so clearly a horrible mistake, I just wanted to try to make people feel better, so I posted to Facebook (now since removed), "Relax. We got this," as well as saying that to friends at a Results Watching Party.
We so did not have this.
And I should have known. Previously, I had already postulated the example learned by the John Kerry vs. George W. Bush election - that voting AGAINST someone is not enough to win an election - your candidate needs to actually inspire voters to turn out, and I wanted to believe that Hillary Clinton was doing that. She wasn't.
Second, another maxim I expressed during the election was never underestimate the capacity of white Americans to do the wrong thing. This maxim, sadly, also still holds.
And third, having spoken to some Trump supporters, I suspected that his was an appeal similar to that of Ronald Reagan - that there is a certain type of American who wants a larger-than-life, race-baiting, authoritarian and that they are prone to the solicitations of bad actors (Reagan and his b-movies and Trump and his reality show). I suspected that suburban and rural America were responding to Trump in the same way they had responded to Reagan, and it appears as though they were.
At this point, while the Democratic Party rips itself apart and reforms, it's my hope that we remove all vestiges of the Clinton political machine. Their time is done, their influence expired. We need to move forward, we do not need to continue to drag along the baggage of the past with us.
To friends who like to bitch about people living in "bubbles," focus. Trusting what the mainstream media tells you, what polling data tells you, what common sense tells you is not living in a bubble. Plus, what you call a "bubble" many of us call a mutherfucking community. If you choose to live out in the sticks in red America where voting for a bankrupt billionaire makes some kind of economic sense to folks, that's on you. Many of us have worked very hard to improve our communities. To make them better places, where tolerance and acceptance are the norm. Some of us have even dedicated a lot of time to do that in neighborhoods that have, historically, not been known as tolerant places (while receiving ridicule from others), and we have been largely successful. Instead of condemning those who have worked tirelessly to improve their communities, take a look at yourself and ask what could you have done to make where you live a better place to live - or, as you so stupidly call it, "a bubble." You live in a bubble too - it just happens to be a red bubble. Do something about that.
To friends who were opposed to Trump but didn't vote for Hillary, told you so. You are about to see just how ugly things can get. I'm very happy you felt like you had the privilege to vote your conscience - but guess what, voting for a president isn't all about you, snowflake. I have a number of friends and even students who are now afraid of what this means for them - not just from being attacked by racist assholes who mistakenly interpret this election as them getting America back, but to the promised plans of Trump - promises of deportation, promises of removal of healthcare, promises of outright banning because of religious beliefs. But hey, you got to feel good about how you voted. This is what voting your conscience looks like. Understandably, you'll to want to continue to try and defend yourself, to rationalize, but you know what? Just shut the fuck up now. No one wants to hear from you anymore.
And to my family and friends who are making gloating, disgusting and ignorant comments, cheering at the prospect of a totalitarian right wing America - I am profoundly disappointed and disgusted with you. But bear in mind one thing - you did not win with a majority of the vote - you won as a result of a lot of gerrymandered districts designed to ensure Republican majorities. You are very much in the minority - and your numbers will only dwindle. Nothing is going to stop America from changing, not even your support of a racist, pussygrabbing misogynist, corrupt, failed billionaire. You are the minority, and you will always be the minority. And sooner or later, those of us on the left will rest the power from your fearful, little hands and when we do, we will not forget.
You are now bedfellows with white supremacists, the KKK, Putin and Russia - any number of great villains. You essentially elected Lex Luthor as President of the United States. So, if we treat you like you are members of the KKK, alt-Right (racists) or a villain, this is why. This is who you have aligned yourself with.
Oh, and I promise you this - just like I did during the Bush era when many of you who voted for Trump also thought it was a good idea to vote that numbskull W. into office, I'm going to be here every step of the way to make damn sure you realize what a stupid mistake you made. That's my promise.
You won. But you are not a majority of Americans. Hell, you aren't even a majority of voters.
Ironically, it will be left to us to make America great again once the people you have put in power finish defiling her.