Normally, I write these blog posts all throughout the week. I begin writing a paragraph each day on Monday, finish and schedule the post on Thursday, and spend Friday editing it. This week, the blog post I started on Monday discussed what I had learned over the course of this election. It was rousing and optimistic, about how even though it’s startling and disturbing how far hatred and fear can take a candidate into a presidential election there is still cause for hope, because for all the hell we give other people we can all still sometimes be trusted to know and make the right decision, and sometimes is enough to make progress. It’s 2 AM on Wednesday morning, and I just deleted that document.
This, for anyone wondering, is how an optimist dies: not after a hundred or a thousand moments when his optimism was disappointed, but in the moment when he realizes he never knew just how optimistic he was being. Even at 9:30 on Tuesday night, with an image on my screen that resembled nothing more than a bloodstain spreading across America, I truly believed Hillary would win. It never occurred to me to call this optimism. I didn’t think it optimistic to believe that over half of one of the most advanced countries in the world would choose to not elect a reality TV star who also happens to be a racist, sexist, demagogue to the highest office in the country. I thought this common sense. And now I find myself wondering just how privileged I have been, that I could afford to know so little about the ugliness of the place I call home, to not be terrified from the moment coverage began.
This isn’t just because we’ve elected a historically unqualified candidate with, by all accounts, the attention span of a goldfish and the temperament of a drunk toddler. It’s not just because we’ve elected a person who has casually endorsed sexual assault, labelled immigrants as violent criminals, been accused of rape, and encouraged us to live in fear of fellow citizens. It’s not just because his election to the presidency brings with it the risk of re-establishing, on the national level, that some people are second-class citizens with rights not worth protecting and has already allowed violently racist and sexist rhetoric to flourish once again in America. It’s because this result means that just under half of the country in which I live feels comfortable supporting, either directly or indirectly, all of these things. It’s because this country, in some childish tantrum, has chosen to elect a president no better than a child.
What, then, do I do now? Well, I guess I do the only thing I can with a vote proven useless and an overpriced education: I write. I write poems for high school boys about what “locker room banter” should actually sound like. I write stories about all the beauty that lives in people not like me. I write articles posted anywhere I can about what it means to govern based on facts rather than fear. I write to help people understand each other, I write to help people understand the world they live in, I write to fight back the ideological legacy this president will have on my home. I write and I march and I scream at the top of my lungs in the wild and perhaps vain hope that in four years I can sit down in front of a computer and write a blog post about how far we’ve come.