NOTE: These are my personal thoughts on the 2016 election results. I’m not here to whine or be a “cry baby” as so many people are quick to say about me. All I’m trying to do is share my fear, sadness and frustration because I know so many people can relate. And it’s my hope that someone will read this, draw inspiration and find a way to move forward.
I was fairly quiet during this election – mostly because I didn’t want to get political or cause arguments. In retrospect, it’s a stance I deeply regret.
While I didn’t agree with Hillary Clinton on every single policy, I firmly believed (and still believe) she was the most qualified person to be president. She spent her entire adult life in public service and continuously fought for equal rights for ALL Americans. And for that, I was excited to see her become the first female president of the United States of America.
When I sat down on the couch Tuesday evening, I was almost certain that at the end of the night, we’d hear a victory speech from Hillary Clinton as she broke the highest glass ceiling in our country. But hour by hour, it became apparent to me that this win was not going to be a landslide as predicted. And it got to the point that I thought to myself, “Donald Trump might actually become our president.”
But let me be clear: I wasn’t sad that “my” candidate was losing. I was sad that half of our country was voting for a man who openly mocked people with disabilities, wants to ban Muslims from entering our country, believes in building a wall between the US and Mexico, degrades women and promotes sexual assault, doesn’t believe in equal rights for the LGBTQ community, and openly spews hate every chance he gets. It was mind-boggling to me, and it got to the point where I had to call it quits for the night.
I woke up around 1am, turned on CNN, and saw that Trump was just a few votes away from becoming the next President-elect of our country. I was instantly paralyzed with fear and sadness. How could this happen? Why was this happening? Are these really the value of the American people? I laid in bed, stared at the ceiling, and at some point fell back asleep.
In the morning, my husband woke me up and said this didn’t feel like reality. And it didn’t. I thought it was some awful joke and that I’d wake up at any moment and the result would be different. My heart was in my stomach all throughout the morning, and I was on the verge of tears because I was genuinely scared of what was to come.
As a woman, what rights would I lose? Was I really willing to raise children under a Trump presidency? What kind of hate would my non-white/ Muslim/ immigrant/ LGBTQ friends endure? What about the people I know with disabilities – what would they face? So many thoughts raced through my mind, and I was overcome with sadness, disappointment and frustration.
When Hillary Clinton finally took the stage for her concession speech, I cried. At first, I didn’t even know why I was crying. But now that I’ve had time to reflect, I understand it more clearly. I cried because I was afraid. Because I was disappointed. Because I wholeheartedly believed Hillary could move this country forward and bring positive changes. Because it felt like we were going backward as a country. Because I was uncertain of what the future would look like under a Trump/Pence presidency.
Hillary was so poised during her concession speech, and she spoke with such grace and confidence – but I could also see she was hurting. Just like all of us. By the end of her speech, I realized that there’s no point in sitting back and being angry. It’s time to ensure something good comes out of all of this.
Our country relies on a peaceful transition of power, and for that, I will give Donald Trump a chance to lead our nation. I will give him a chance to do the right thing, unify all Americans and keep our country moving forward. And who knows, maybe he’ll surprise me. I will support him in any endeavor to improve the lives of working American families. But I refuse to stay silent if he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic or anti-environmental policies.
I may have been silent most of this election, but my silence ends now. I will never be violent, but I will use my voice as an American to rally for change and acceptance. I will speak out against injustice. I will do my part in making the United States of America a better and safer place for ALL Americans.
This election did not end the way I, or many Americans, hoped, and it’s heartbreaking. But sitting back won’t solve anything. If you’re not happy with the results, don’t resort to violence. Don’t burn the American flag or vandalize property. Speak up. Engage in peaceful protests. Rally for change. And most importantly, VOTE.