Today, I did nothing. And it wasn’t because I was hungover.
Last night, I attended The Washington Post’s election night viewing party, which started out on a boisterous note, the room bridling with optimism. As the night darkened and the electoral votes were cast, the mood became increasingly somber. People stopped drinking for cheer. Instead, they drank out of fear.
I woke up unsettled. I tossed and turned and refused to check my phone. I resisted the urge to Google “Election Results 2016.” I caved at 8:23 AM and the day I had planned went out the window. I would not grocery shop, exercise, apply to jobs, or even clean my room. I barricaded myself in my room with delivery pizza and cozied up with my cat. I’m ashamed to say that I binge watched the CW’s Crazy Ex Girlfriend from 10 AM until 6 PM. I don’t even really like the show, but it’s perfect escapism.
Every time I picked up my phone to browse social media, I was inundated with posts detailing the heartbreak, shock and disillusionment that culminated just after 2 AM when Donald Trump’s victory was announced.
D.C., beware. Trump has already transformed the old Post building into another one of his empire’s strongholds. This is what he did throughout the course of the election: take sacred institutions and values and Trumpify them, with flashy signs and a false air of glamour.
Earlier today, I was saying that “the end is in sight.” But today is actually just the beginning.
It begins a long journey to take back our country. From bigots, racists, and misogynists. From the people who are stuck in the past, dazzled by deception and fondness for Othering. From those who tell us that “we’ll understand when we’re older.” The ones who would rather build walls than shatter glass.
We do not understand you. Nor do we support you. We do want to help you.
Right now, My America is not Your America. The question becomes how do we create Our America.
The silver lining of the end result of this vile campaign season is what it has uncovered. It has exposed deep rifts within our nation. Part of the media’s inability to predict Trump’s win is the result of overlooking many disenfranchised individuals. They exist outside of our sphere of influence. We viewed the country narrowly through a liberal lens but the truth is our country is made up of more than city-dwellers and millennials. We were in denial about how a majority of this country feels. This is what the plurality tells us. Their dissatisfaction brewed into hate over time, which the Trump campaign capitalized on to win.
I believe that education is still the answer. By teaching tolerance, encouraging diversity and using tools such as storytelling in curriculums as a means to connect us across our cultures and differences, we pave the way towards Our America. A better future starts with an informed and empathetic electorate.
The end result, although devastating, has lit our fire from within.
A quote from Crazy Ex Girlfriend resonated with me today. “Love doesn’t have to be a person. It can be a passion.” A demagogue may soon hold office but we will recover and be stronger because of it. We will continue to be relentless in our fight against cruelty. We will persevere to the next election where we will do better.
In the face of growing exclusionism and populism, choose activism. Everyone who woke up this morning dejected: let’s be nasty instead.
Today I did nothing. Tomorrow, the fight starts.