I’ve just been advised by a nice little piece in Huffington Post that I should let my anger out by 1) voting (check, thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala) and 2) writing it out. Writing tends to be my standard release, but after a highly emotional past week and a morning filled with a number of near-breakdowns, I realize I have not yet allowed myself to vent my seething anger and crippling frustration about the current American presidential election. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that a majority of Americans are feeling high levels of stress as a result of this election cycle (duh), and since I have recently been writing more about ways in which others can cope with negative emotions, I guess I will heed my own advice. Now, with the soundtrack for Before the Flood pulsing in my ears (“we will all be judged by what we leave behind“), here we go.
Today, November 8th, winding up an unprecedented turnout for early voting in the United States, those Americans who have not yet cast their vote will head to the polls, and vote to either 1) make h(er)story by electing the first (fucking finally) female President of the United States of America, an incredibly qualified candidate who has dedicated her life to public service and put up with our endless barrage of ungrateful shit along the way, one who will continue to represent many of the darker sides of the American political system, but one who will at the very least maintain a status quo that our beloved President Barack Obama has fought tirelessly for over the past 8 years, and at the very best will lead America into a new age where unity, intelligent bipartisan policy, and basic respect for the millions of people across our great country who continue to suffer at the hands of ignorance and oppression, where girls can see the limitless possibilities of their dreams manifested in reality, and where we can continue to believe that we as a people are moving forward, not backward.
2) prove to the entire fucking planet that we really ARE that stupid, that afraid, that malicious, that racist, that sexist, that childish, that stubborn, that ungrateful, that selfish, that oblivious to the damage that can and will be inflicted on both domestic and foreign policy under the rule of a sociopathic reality T.V. star with absolutely no qualifications or competence to lead an adult campaign let alone the most powerful country on Earth.
He poses the question: “Do you want America to be ruled by the corrupt political class, or do you want America to be ruled again by the people?” To which his flock cries, “Lock her up!” (mob justice) and “She’s a witch!” (mob justice, sexism and insanity). There we have it: the presumed underlying ethos behind Trump’s support and the division we have trudged through in this election cycle. The problem is, in many ways, Hillary represents (to many) the untrustworthy, conniving nature of American politics, and Trump is seen as a solution. The main problem is, that solution, and those who support it, is dripping with vile racist and sexist ideology that permeates America in ways that many have refused to acknowledge. We keep scratching our heads and wondering, “How did we get here?” and “Can this really be happening?”
Well, acknowledge it. This ideology is alive and well in America, maybe even stronger than it was before 2016. It’s very, very real. It is a rabid attack dog, foaming at the mouth, eyes locked on its target, and it’s chain has officially snapped. America’s ignorance is out for blood.
My purpose in life is two-fold: I am here to connect with people and learn as much as I possibly can about this life and our place in it, and I am here to make this life better for my future daughters (and sons) to live in. In the event that Hillary, for whatever reason, does not win tomorrow, then it is very possible that I will be bringing my first child into a world where Trump is President of the United States (assuming a worst-case scenario of a 2-term presidency, of course). I am not alone in this fear.
I recently learned that members of my own family support Trump, and have already cast their vote. This does not surprise me. I come from a poor, white upbringing in a generally ‘Red’ part of California, where many Americans are jaded by political decisions that continue to neglect the lower-middle class in favor of big business and political elites. To many of these individuals, Trump represents the change and progress America needs to strengthen the white middle class who would otherwise be further disenfranchised should minorities suddenly begin to earn equal opportunities to the white majority. It’s racist, it’s ill-informed, but it’s their vote. It certainly cast a darker cloud upon this election season for me personally, but I took comfort in the votes cast by those who raised me – from my grandmother, to my sisters, to my mother (in my mind, my vote was for her, because due to voter ID laws, an expired license crawling through the DMV systems, and confusing processes that bar millions from voting every year, she was unable to cast her vote. Don’t worry mom, I got you).
Then just this week, I learned that my father – Texas born, long-time California resident – spent his weekend canvassing for Trump in the state in which he currently lives. Which state is that? Florida.
We are all entitled to our opinion. We are all entitled to our vote. As Louis C.K. says, “If you vote for Hillary you’re an adult, if you vote for Trump you’re a sucker, if you don’t vote at all, you’re an asshole.” At least my father is voting, at least he is taking part in the process, even if I disagree with his vote. But this whole campaign dug deeper into my psyche and soul when my mother – the woman who nurtured me to be the compassionate, empathetic feminist that I am today – was unable to vote for Hillary, and my father – the man whose anger, racism and violent oppression ultimately fueled me to become a patriarchy-dismantling activist – was actively convincing others to vote for Trump.
Thus, to me, on both macro and micro levels, this election is white patriarchy at its worst. Donald Trump is white patriarchy at its worst. Beyond the fact that 35% of Trump’s Twitter followers also follow white supremacist Twitter accounts, beyond the growing list of women who have claimed to be victims of sexual assault or misconduct at the tiny hands of Trump, beyond the “nasty woman” comment…a vote for Donald Trump is a vote to maintain the patriarchy. And I somehow feel that my bloodline is either completely oblivious to this or they just do not care. They see progress – we see maintenance of a world order driven by greed, narcissism and stupidity.
I am confident that we will make the right choice. I am confident that when I wake up tomorrow morning, Hillary Clinton will be the President-elect of the United States. I am confident that I will be celebrating alongside my American, Ugandan, English, German, Swedish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish and every-country-on-Earth friends tomorrow night. But I had to get all this out, because I’m fucking exhausted, and I know you are too.
It’s all about to be over. A massive, gaping wound has been left on American history, but we need to expose our greatest weaknesses in order to find ways to become Stronger Together. The election is almost over…the work has just begun.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.