On Election Night, my mother came to watch the kids so my husband and I could take dinner to friends who had a baby that morning. We brought food to the hospital, I inhaled the smell of an hours-old baby deeply while his parents had a few minutes with free hands, and we all watched CNN scream BREAKING NEWS over things that were not actually breaking news every five minutes around 7pm Eastern.
When we came home, my mother commented that she couldn’t wait for the election to be over so I could get back to writing these posts. At about 8pm, I agreed with her. I looked forward to business as usual with the added bonus of Madame President. I tearfully looked forward to a time when a little girl could say, “I want to be President” without the qualifier I grew up hearing of either “the first” or “woman” in front of President. I had spent the last couple of days making calls into the swing states of North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania reminding people to go vote. Election day morning I commented to my husband that today would be historic – we would either have our first female president, catching us up to other advanced nations like Germany where it’s NBD to have a woman as head of state, or it would be a giant test of whether our democracy would hold. We also went to get the kids passports just in case. By about 10p, the feeling of dread began to creep in as I watched Florida, and then Ohio, turn red.
I used to live in Florida, and when people asked why I moved further north I answered in an oversimplification that I couldn’t stand it politically. When I knocked doors for Obama in 2008, I was physically threatened by large, white men. Mind you, I’m 5’3″; I’m not physically threatening. I take for granted where I live now – in an open minded, progressive, hard left-leaning community (and I recently learned, a Sanctuary City) that is extremely diverse religiously, ethnically, culturally, but apparently, not politically. I’m friends with a few republicans and a handful of libertarians, but most of my crew would identify more with Sanders than Pelosi when it comes to the Democratic Party.
All of this is to say, I went to bed around 2am with a sick feeling as the Clinton-blue firewall began to fall. I woke up around 4am with the baby, and didn’t go back to sleep when I read who the president-elect is. I spent the rest of the week in a heightened state of anxiety, barely eating or sleeping, and sobbing anytime anything relating to the election was mentioned. I ugly cried into my son’s blankie watching Secretary Clinton’s concession speech.
I haven’t known what to say about the election, and it’s felt like too big of a thing unsaid for me to go back to writing about parenting things. While I thought about writing on my brief and not awesome IUD experience, that has to wait until I can get my head around my country’s future.
When Bush won again in 2004 I was upset, but I wasn’t afraid for my family and those around me. I didn’t joke about moving to Canada, as I knew that while I disagreed with his policies, and we would remain entangled in wars – we – as a nation, as the institutions that hold up the country, would hold. I didn’t think those thoughts clearly at the time as I didn’t need to. I pouted for a day over being on the losing team and then I moved on. This year, this loss, is not business as usual.
I will not take the open minded approach to the president elect. I read Autocracy: Rules for Survival by Masha Gessen, who knows quite a bit about living through and surviving autocracies, and I believe as she mentions, that we must take everything he says as his word. As Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
It’s going to be a struggle for me, and I’m hoping that my angst only lasts for four years. With all of the former military personnel mentioned for cabinet posts, it’s sounding like we’re going to be more of a banana republic, or a mix between that and kleptocracy, and who knows if all of that will fall away peacefully in another election. Shit, considering how unpredictable the president-elect is, we might get nuked before the four years are up, or at the least be suffering in a recession during our trade war with China, while also moving to higher ground to escape rising sea levels and buying pollution masks for our kids like the babies wear in Beijing.
In the meantime, I’ve been reading about how Chileans survived Pinochet, and figuring out what kind of resistance is feasible with children. I worry about putting my children in danger, and have thought about going dark on all social media. I’m having thoughts about all of this that I would have assumed only belong to those people who also stockpile food and buy gold bars “just in case.”
I don’t have anything inspiring or particularly original to say about any of this, but not saying anything isn’t an option. Hopefully I can get back to fun stuff, like boobs and IUDs (which reminds me, go get some birth control while you still can.).