When I was growing up, Republicans were the “bad guys.” My family was staunch Democrats and if you weren’t, you sure shut up about it at family parties. We had no drunk uncle. I never felt I personally knew any Republicans. I naively thought everyone agreed that you should take care of the less fortunate, support your schools and libraries, and be accepting of those that were different than you. They were the Richard Dreyfuss’s in An American President, they were the corrupt congressman paid off by special interests to get rich, they were the Darth Vaders of the world. It was very black and white until I hit college and had that one college professor I respected but could not believe the conservativism coming out of his mouth.
It was then I began to realize that everyday, hard working people could be the big, bad Republicans. Democrats were not always right and Republicans were not always wrong. Everyone had a different story, different perspective, different upbringing upon which they formed their opinions. Some of my closest friends are and will always be Republicans. Some are fiscally conservative, some are socially conservative, all have opinions I value and respect, based in some form of ideology that just doesn’t quite align with mine. We’ve always agreed to disagree on the big stuff and keep our friendships close because we shared the same values: family, friends, kindness and acceptance.
I am, to say the least, shell shocked. I have been up since 3 a.m. processing the stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I am wavering between the last two currently, occasionally jumping back to one and two. The 6th stage doesn’t seem to be listed, which is a constant state of nausea, which doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
I’ve known political loss. My first presidential election was in 2000, which was eerily replayed last night (as HRC is believed at this point to have won the popular vote, just as Gore did in 2000). I lost again in 2004 – bigly. We lost the house and senate in 95 – no I couldn’t vote yet, but yes, I was already a policy junkie, so I noticed.
I have never ever felt the despair I felt last night as I forced myself to turn off the TV and silence my phone. In 2000, George W Bush in every Democrats mind “stole” the election via the Supreme Court, but we sucked it up and conceded. I remember my 21 year old brain thinking, “Ah well, you win some you lose some.” I never felt genuine fear for the future or hostility towards me for my viewpoints. We still had a sane, reasonable person in the White House – I just didn’t happen to agree with 99% of his policies.
I still lived in America, where I was free to voice my opinion as loudly as I wanted.
I remember rolling my eyes at my conservative co-workers who lamented after Obama’s election and re-election that they would be out of a job in a month and the economy would collapse. I remember thinking, how stupid and naïve, he’s one guy for God’s sake. If Bush didn’t blow up the world, Obama won’t either.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. I am the one terrified about tomorrow. I am worried about my job and my husband’s job. Because say what you want about W, he was never the arrogant, misogynic, racist demagogue that Trump has painted himself to be in this election. Sometimes I’ve wondered if he himself was trying to outrageous himself out of being elected. No one could possibly still be this hateful in the 21st century right?
My hope and prayer is it was all an act, a show. He is an expert at playing the media and the crowds and this expertise turned our election into a reality show, which America promptly ate up. He played all of us. The comedians got their easy late night material. The 24 hour news cycle got their hourly shocking headlines. Displaced, abused and unheard white Americans heard exactly what they wanted to hear and he tapped into their most basic instincts and fears and played them.
My hope is that Trump is sitting in his hotel room right now thinking, “Holy shit. What have I done?” and is beginning to realize what an awesome responsibility has just been placed on his shoulders. People of all walks of life, races, creeds, religions, and genders expect to be heard and represented. You got what you wanted Republicans – control of it all. Now show us how great you’re going to make America again. I for one thought it was pretty great to begin with.
You have my attention, now perform. Prove this liberal wrong. Please.