One month ago today I woke up to a series of texts from my mother in our family group message:
An accidental “congratulations!” doodle from the new iOS
“I hate The new updates! I don’t know what happened last night because even though I’m up at four I’m still too afraid to turn on the TV.”
“So I’m not sure if congratulations are in order stupid phone.”
“I heard. I’m devastated.”
“But I guess a lot of people wanted him.”
One month ago today I called my mom to talk about the abomination of the night before. There were so many questions banging around in my head. How could this happen? Who really wanted this? What will the next four years look like? …Can this be real? Instead we breathed in silence. In our seven minute phone call we spoke about five sentences to each other.
One month ago today I cried. I cried a lot. I cried when I woke up. I cried when I walked to class. I cried before class. I cried during class. My professor was close to crying in class. All day we were all close to crying.
Rewind even further to the 2008 primaries. I, a politically involved fourth grader with a budding passion for feminism, was rooting for Hillary. She was eloquent, confident, and she was a girl. How exciting! A female president at last. In my nine long years of living I had only ever learned about and seen men leading our country. Who let that happen? All boys could do is pick their noses and forget to raise their hands.
Hillary didn’t win the primary election. I was disappointed, but I didn’t cry. I was secretly pleased. This meant I could be the first female president. Of course it would be difficult to balance as a best-selling author, a Hollywood actress, a chart-topping popstar, and a famous artist, but I knew I could handle it. I had a great work ethic.
I don’t know if it was my youthful optimism or hidden narcissism that kept my spirits high those eight years ago. Or maybe I was too occupied with planning my talent show performance to wonder when our country will finally choose a woman to lead. But I do know that this was not a normal election.
The 2016 election asked Americans to choose between our most qualified and experienced politician, and a xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, offensive, foul, evil, orange cartoon villain billionaire. We chose a character over character. We chose anger and greed and grammatically incorrect word vomit. We revealed our capacity to hate.
In hindsight, which as always is 20/20, we should have seen this coming. America is built on, to put it lightly, some dark ideals and practices. We have always been capable of blatant hatred. But in the recent years of Obama’s administration and liberal millennials, it’s almost like we forgot.
Moving forward, we cannot forget this past month and the months leading up to it. We cannot normalize hate. We cannot claim “it’s in their hands now.” How comfortable are you in their hands?
I recognize and resonate with the valid fear our country feels under the pressure of our president elect, but I urge you to translate this fear into action. My first response to the outcome was to bury myself in a hole for a few days. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s not okay to accept it.
Find something to motivate you. Be it a specific issue, your disdain for the tangerine man, or your idol and queen, Tha Boss Hillary Rodham Clinton. I often ask myself WWHRCD? (What Would Hillary Rodham Clinton Do?) Then I do it. Using my method does not mean you have to become a career politician and blow all your money on bomb pantsuits. For me, it works for small things like getting myself to write a paper or go to the gym. I know that if I budget my time on the paper, write it, revise it, and get a good grade, then I can do well in the class, raise my GPA, graduate, and I’m that much closer to being as successful and respected as the heroic HRC.
Remember that voting in the presidential election is not the only way to get involved in policy. Vote in other elections. For fellow Virginians, remember to vote in the 2017 gubernatorial race. Contact your representatives and senators. Don’t know how?
Here’s a handy dandy call to action spreadsheet (courtesy of my mother and her many hours scrolling through Facebook): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/u/1/d/174f0WBSVNSdcQ5_S6rWPGB3pNCsruyyM_ZRQ6QUhGmo/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true#
Do not let the outcome of this election keep you from making change. Let HRC’s wise words guide you in your post-election activism: “The worst thing that can happen in a democracy – as well as in an individual’s life – is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.”