I think it’s fair to say that no one really saw this coming.
On Tuesday afternoon, I chatted with my sister Zoe on the phone. She was at a hotel in Atlanta preparing for the election night celebration for the Democratic Party of Georgia. For the last month Zoe has volunteered for the Clinton campaign and she was confident. “Nate Silver says Clinton has a like, 86 percent chance of winning,” she said.
I was at a home inspection, pacing an empty living room while my client looked around outside and the inspector checked the attic space.
“I know everyone says she is going to win, but his supporters don’t,” I said.
I’d been watching CNN; Trump’s surrogates kept repeating their confident predictions. I was worried. But… I am almost always worried.
That night I watched the election unfold in the McMansion in Happy Valley where I periodically housesit. My friend Katie came out and we made dinner and laughed together.
Around seven thirty I started breaking out in hives. Then I began to feel like I was going to vomit. I posted that I felt sick on Facebook, several people posted that they’d already vomited several times. We were collectively watching in horror as the unthinkable happened in front of our eyes. The reporters were in disbelief, some of them looked like they were going to cry.
Katie wondered aloud what she was going to tell her daughter. I thought about my health insurance. I almost wanted to run to the bathroom and make myself vomit just to get it over with. My mother called and told me she thought I shouldn’t be alone. She came over and spent the night. She was afraid the stress would put me at risk of an adrenal crisis. I took extra steroids. Neither of us slept very well.
I spent Wednesday drinking whisky, smoking cigarettes and eating pizza. I cried with my sister Ana and my friend Michael. I skyped with a book club in Little Rock about my book.
And today I’m still periodically getting hives. Earlier today I had to take a long walk because every time I sat down to write this, horrible heartburn would radiate over my chest and back. It’s funny how our bodies are absorbing this disaster before our brains can really comprehend what’s going on. My body knew what was happening before my brain did. I still don’t know what’s happening.
On Facebook people are manifesting every stage of grief. They post about despair and rage. People bargain, they talk of the West Coast seceding from the United States, or impeachment or a recall or the abolishment of the electoral college. Some are in denial, posting cheery, “we can do this” statuses, or complaining about the negativity. Fingers are being pointed, blame is being kicked around.
I am still trying to figure out how this man who has insulted pretty much every group but white men, managed to get so many people to vote for him. How could this have happened? Of course, the answer is right in front of our faces. It’s racism pure and simple. It’s also misogyny. White people voted Trump into office. White Women voted Trump into office. It’s White People’s fault. There you have it.
But under the surface are other troubling facts. Half the population didn’t vote at all. Young people voted overwhelmingly Democrat. Old people voted for Trump. And then there is mass incarceration and re-districting by the Republicans. One out of four Black Floridians have had their right to vote taken away because they are felons. Felonies in Florida include such acts as releasing helium balloons, or killing certain kinds of animals, or driving with an expired license plate. Voter suppression is real.
One fact haunts me though….33 percent ofHispanic men voted for Trump. My guess was that despite Trump’s blatant racism towards Hispanics, they voted for him because of abortion. And as far as why, not just Hispanics, but people in general didn’t vote for Clinton, I wonder how much of it was about abortion. It can’t be that one issue. But it was a factor. Obama was pro-choice, so what’s the difference?
I think Hilary lost votes because she is a woman that proudly championed a woman’s right to choose.
Our sexism prevents us from seeing women as whole persons, separated from our idealization of them as mothers and nurturers. The trap of being told that we are inherently good and therefore always self-sacrificing is killing us. We’re supposed to never look out for our own wellbeing. In so many subtle and not so subtle ways, I have been told this my whole life. It’s a real and damaging fact of women’s lives. It’s okay for a man to be pro-choice, because other men can identify: yes, I want legal abortion in case I knock some woman up, they may think. But for a woman, a mother herself, to confidently defend a woman’s right to choose… It’s just too much. It’s too selfish, too greedy. It’s too ambitious that she might want this for herself. Clinton was a “nasty woman” in these people’s eyes. She was a witch in the flesh: a woman who dared to work for other women and therefore her own interests.
And it also comes back to simple racism. Trump’s supporters are sick of people calling them racists. What they don’t understand is that by voting for a candidate that will not publicly rebuke his endorsement by the KKK, they are casting a racist vote. Passive racism is the same as active racism. Or maybe they just don't care. As reports of harassment of minorities come in from around the country, it's fair to say that many White Americans simply do not care if they are called racists and are now emboldened to act on their racist and xenophobic fantasies.
As a white woman living in a blue city after this election, I am becoming increasingly more aware of my privilege with each passing hour. I notice this in other white friends and family members – the dawning of a new reality. We white people are going to have to put our bodies on the line in a new way. The stakes have been raised. Unless we want to put ourselves in the category of the passive racist, we have to take actionable steps to prevent further oppression and misery. If you aren’t part of the solution you are part of the problem. This has never been more true than it is right now.
We are fighting for our survival now and by default the survival of our planet. This is not an option.
As for me, I have publicly declared that I will be donating some of the proceeds from my Patreon page to Black Lives Matter and Anawim (a homeless outreach program in East Portland). I’m also offering a reward on my Patreon Page where people can “sponsor” a friend who lives in a Red State. (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4333715)
I am also going to be putting my STUCK zine on hold and will be putting together a zine called “Getting Our Shit Together – an Action Guide for a Post Trump Era.”
More on that later. …..
Love to all of you,