In the early hours of November 9th I was curled up on a hotel room bed. I was sobbing and my heart was aching. It was an ugly scene. In fact, everything around me felt ugly, most notably the election map on the screen in front of me.
My personality is programmed to embrace joy, humor, and beauty. I am eternally the seeker of the silver lining, even in the most frustrating of circumstances. I suspect the blog grew from my desire to explore that trait. But to put it mildly, this year I have struggled. I have not published a blog post for months. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to put two and two together. It has been an epic and constant struggle for me to find beauty and joy during this U.S. election year.
In the wee hours of the morning after the election, from the fetal position, I wrote a short paragraph. It was meant to help me start the healing process. I wrote about my hope that we would find a path forward to an inclusive and peaceful country.
True to my words, I moved forward the next day. I obsessively read the opinions of respected journalists and political commentators, savoring sentences intended to soothe. I found solace in conversations with individuals who shared my experiences, my heartache. I held them close, thinking that everything was going to be ok, as there were so many of us who understood. For short moments I even had transient episodes of an emotion that might have closely resembled calm.
Until a slow and steady trickle of evidence headed my way that the ugliness remained.
It started with two tweets.
During the protests that took place the evening after the election, President-elect Trump wrote: “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” While later his tweets changed tone (likely because his staffers took his phone away and asked him to read the constitution), his clear disregard for free speech and his continued love for promoting conspiracy sent shivers down my spine.
That sensation, I’m afraid, has not dissipated.
Later I learned that white supremacist and Trump supporter David Duke tweeted “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life -> make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump! “
I then learned that Mike Pence was chosen to take over the planning of Trump’s transition into office. While his appointment isn’t all that big of a surprise given his role in the campaign, let’s all please remember that Pence has openly stated that being gay “is a choice”, actively fought against a law that would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, and feels that gay marriage is a sign of “societal collapse”.
Let’s also look at the potential cabinet recently discussed. A climate change skeptic, Myron Ebell, is slated to lead Donald Trump’s U.S. EPA transition team. Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, men with proven track records of biased and self-serving behavior, are possibilities for the role of attorney general – a role where impartiality is essential, and decisions to prosecute must be unbiassed without the fear of impropriety.
And don’t forget the other stories.
There was a celebratory and jovial mood – at the Kremlin – after Trump’s victory the night of the election.
The alt-right also rejoiced, spewing statements that indicate they feel they will finally have the support of highest office in the country, prominent figures stating they “just blew up the Death Star!” , “Scorched earth. Restoring the country after Obama.” and “We’re the establishment now.”
So what does the above evidence, accumulated in only four days, mean to me?
My fear that free speech might be suppressed due to one man’s ego remains very, very strong, as does my fear that the spread of horrific lies, misinformation and conspiracy theories that were the hallmark of the Trump campaign will continue. I remain terrified that there will be significant legislative backlash against LGBT rights – all human rights – as I still fear the persecution of my fellow citizens based on the color of their skin, their sex, their religion, and whom they love. I continue to be kept awake at night, considering how the movement to conserve our natural resources, protect wildlife, and mitigate global climate change will face unbelievable challenges. I remain terrified that our public interests will be ignored. I know now, more than ever before, that the alt right movement feels they have a place in US politics.
There is evidence here to support so many of my fears… and it is only day 4.
I’ve been told that, in order to heal during these volatile times, it will be important to understand and accept the opinions of others and work together for the common good.
I can do that. For example, I love Brussels sprouts. But I know there are others that think Brussels sprouts are instruments of taste bud torture. I might not agree with them, but I understand and respect their opinion.
However, I cannot, and will not, understand hate, discrimination, and intentional cruelty. These are not “opinions”. Racism and misogyny are unacceptable. Climate change is real. Love is love. As human beings we should refuse to seek “middle ground” on these issues.
I am prepared to fight. And fight like hell I will.
It is ugly, and none of us want to be faced with ugly – me included. Heck, for months I stopped one of my favorite activities, writing, because I could not get past the hideous things I was seeing and hearing.
I know there are numerous statements on social media begging people to stop the political discussion and instead go back to pleasantries. I suspect people are desperate for it to be “pretty” again.
I get it. But please – don’t be distracted. Open your eyes. It will be painful. In fact, it will be achingly difficult. But knowledge is power. Be prepared to fight for the rights of others, for the preservation of our natural resources, and for your children’s future.
Remember that passion for a better future is, in fact, stunningly and breathtakingly… Beautiful.
In case you wish to see some of the evidence for yourself:
Cabinet – NBC
Mike Pence – Time