So, I just cried while brushing my teeth. I'd just let the dogs out before putting them to bed. The sky was especially clear and the stars were especially bright, and I looked up just so that I could feel small. I've had to reduce the politics in my various social media feeds because it's hurting me. Like, physically making my chest hurt with anxiety and sadness.
And yet... there are people in this country that think, or at least hope, that the election of Donald Trump is a good thing, and that it gets the country going in the right direction. And I'm thinking about my history classes, and I'm thinking about the racist, misogynistic rhetoric, the words that match so closely to the fascists of the early 20th century, and I just... I'm dumbfounded. Then I see this Murderer's Row of cabinet picks and advisers, and I'm sick to my stomach.
It makes me feel like I've just stepped into an alternate universe.
Which is both true and untrue. For there are more Americas than I realized, but these have always been here. America has always been this way, and I am just now seeing it for the first time. I didn't think that anyone, save for the most avowed, unrepentant racist, could vote for someone who called Mexican immigrants rapists. The way he mocked the reporter with arthrogryposis, the way he talked down to the Gold Star mother? I mean, I would understand if Clinton lost to Romney, or McCain or even Ryan... but to lose to the Pussy Grabber guy? To the racist? I was taught that racist was about the worst, most awful, most terrible thing that you can be, and that you should try very, very hard to, at the bare minimum, not be a racist. I swear, it feels like he won BECAUSE of his rhetoric, not despite it.
And it's whipping my head around to hear people say that the economy is in the shitter - are you kidding me? What the hell are they talking about?
But that's where the alternative universe kicks in. I live and work in the Austin, TX area, one of the most vibrant, diverse, economically fruitful places to live in the States. I do not live in Southern Louisiana. Or Ohio. Or Michigan. Or Pennsylvania. Places where globalization has hurt, not helped the people living there, many of whom are hard-working individuals who are watching the world rise up and progress around them. This did not happen over night, and it will not be fixed over night.
I think to the pages and pages of detail in Clinton's website - her very specific ideas for helping people in these areas. I and think to the unscripted vagaries of Trump's promises, and I wonder why they could possibly think that would work? Facts and figures vs. bluster, and the bluster won. But you know, Clinton spent no time in those states, and even though she had a plan, she didn't spend a lot of time talking about it to the people being rogered by globalization. And when she did, she didn't speak to the people. God, she is a shit campaigner, and not trustworthy in the eyes of people who just want you to look in their eyes and tell them sincerely that you've got their backs. Seriously, that's it. If they can look you in the eye, they'll trust you, because a lot of these are good people. I know that because I traveled the country for my job, and I know these people.
These are the same people who say making it about race just makes it worse, who dismiss entirely the voices of people laying bare their hurt and anger and fear. Just as I couldn't imagine someone else's bad economy because I live in my blue, prosperous bubble, perhaps they couldn't imagine how voting in someone who, in their mind, had great ideas, despite his 'problematic language', will cause real harm to people of color, the disabled, trans and queer folks, because the worst of him will not affect their daily lives.
The Friday after the election results, my friend T dragged me to a celebratory karaoke (my lawyer friend won local recognition, and it really was a big deal). And many of us were still in pain, but we still wanted to sing and to celebrate our dear friend. And what I found was that it was the country songs that spoke to my soul, and made me feel that there might be a way out of this. And that struck me as odd. How the sounds which originated from white Appalachian folk and black Southern blues could so beautifully capture the pain of missed opportunities, and heart break, and the need for a change. The similarities, I think, were not accidental.
How convenient for the ruling class that the two groups with the most in common are at each others' throats. I mean, how does one even begin to pull our groups together - for if we worked together, we'd have the politicians on the run. While there is much where we can agree to disagree, we would have to acknowledge that racism (prejudice + institutional power) exists, and that there are whole communities of all colors that have been decimated by technology and globalization, with no good solutions around keeping these places vibrant and successful once the money-makers no longer had any use for them. We would have to see both our conservative and liberal neighbors as good people and patriots.
And maybe that's a bridge too far.