On Tuesday morning, I was full of optimism. We were going to elect the first woman president, a woman more qualified than anyone for whom I had ever cast my vote. I had total confidence in her. She has been accused of everything one can imagine, hauled before Congress, raked over the coals by the media, called crooked and nasty by her opponent, but still she kept going. She held her head up and smiled and was tireless in her fight for America.
For my part, I was perplexed about what was making Trump supporters so angry. In retrospect, I should have been more sympathetic. I have a wonderful life. I’m not rich, I don’t live in a big house, and I’m not thin. I drive a 15-year-old car. I don’t take a cruise or go on some amazing trip every few months. I don’t have a closet full of beautiful clothes. But have I have a lot. I have the best family anyone could ever ask for. There’s not many of us, but we love each other and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I have a husband who loves me. I have a nice home. And sometimes, when I’m lucky, that 15-year-old car actually starts and I’m able to go get my nails done or something.
But I’m generally happy. Mostly because I choose to be. Not that life isn’t hard. It is. I work seven days a week, and I literally take in as much work as I can find. Still, my earnings are meager and my tax bills seem out of proportion to what I make. We are in a constant struggle to pay our taxes. Meanwhile, people who make their money off investments (as opposed to banging on a keyboard all day or working in a coal mine or pulling extra shifts) pay little or no taxes. Yes, that’s frustrating, and I can see how it would make people angry. But I don’t want to be angry, so I don’t go there.
Tuesday night was nerve-wracking. I stayed up as late as I could, hoping the numbers would change. Finally I went to bed and slept hard. At 3 a.m., I woke up and checked my phone. The words I saw will likely haunt me forever. “His win in Pennsylvania all but assures that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.”
I laid awake the rest of the night and worked through the five stages of grief. My first thought was, I’m never turning on the TV again or going on Facebook. I literally could not believe what was happening. How did this happen? What the hell is wrong with people? It wasn’t just that I was certain (and still am) that the chances of seeing a woman in the Oval Office in my lifetime have all but evaporated. It’s that we have just elected a reality TV star with a filthy mouth and no concept whatsoever of what my life is like. As George Will described Trump years ago, he’s a bloviating buffoon. He thinks he now has the power to fire the commissioner of the NFL. That’s how little he knows about the job of president.
Even more perplexing is the number of good-hearted, loving people I know who voted for him. People who call themselves Christians, yet had no problem filling in the box for a man who said he would order our troops to kill the families of terrorists, who has spoken openly of molesting women and intentionally walking in on teenage girls as they changed into their swimsuits. He wants to divide us according to our religion and even pretended to be a Christian so he could get their votes.
And they fell for it. They f’ing fell for it.
I thought that, two days hence, I would have gotten to the acceptance part of the five stages. But now I seem firmly entrenched in the depression part. I am fighting the feeling of abject hatred for my country. I have American flags all around my house, and I want to throw them all in the trash. I’m ashamed and afraid.
I’m one of those people who tends to flee uncomfortable situations. My first thought is always to get away from the thing that is hurting me. There’s nowhere to run to, though. And now I feel like my happy life has been reduced to a hopeless existence, living in a country led by a game show host, and worse, living in a country where half the population voted for him.
“People are good.” I say that often. And until two days ago, I truly believed it. I was wrong.