It’s not that I’m disappointed because my candidate didn’t win. My candidates have lost before, several times. I never before experienced the intense grief I’ve been wrestling with since I awoke on Wednesday, November 9. I never before felt the need to attend a prayer vigil following any election, as if someone had died.
I’ve been thinking about what, exactly, is the source of this nauseous rage. It’s not that my candidate lost. It’s that this election cycle has uncovered the seedy underbelly of my country in a way that none other has. The extreme, and apparently acceptable, level of violence against women, against people of color, against the LGBT community, and the disabled is absolutely horrifying.
I just wasn’t aware that so many of my neighbors find it acceptable to despise. I was shocked by the hate and frenzy of rage that Trump’s campaign encouraged and unleashed. Somehow, this candidate harnessed the dissatisfaction of many white men and women and gave them a mandate to act on their anger, as if white men and women are the only ones who matter.
Trump did not manufacture the violence, but he authorized it. He has never once faced any consequence for his misdeeds, apart from fines and legal fees. So, effectively, no penalty. The message it sends to his supports? Go for it. Grab that pussy, take that woman, burn that church, hit that man and Trump will pay the legal fees.
Its not that my candidate lost; it’s that many of my neighbors are not what I imagined. As if they took off a mask of humanity and revealed the hateful beast underneath. I’m sure not all of his supporters think rape and abuse are acceptable. But, they seem to see no problem with the Commander in Chief thinking that both are not only fine but also brag-worthy. There will be those who point a finger at Bill Clinton, forgetting that he was elected with a clean slate. Also, why must we repeat this, he wasn’t running in 2016.
Thousands of people have taken to wearing safety pins in the last few weeks. Regardless of which side of the safety pin debate you find yourself on, and there are sides. The message of the thousands and thousands of pins on clothing, purses, and backpacks send the clear message that We Don’t Feel Safe/We Don’t Feel Other People Are Safe. The truth is, the sad truth is, we never were. How many men ask to be walked to their cars after dark? It’s not the dark we fear. How many people of color fear a traffic stop? It’s not the ticket they fear.
This seething anger and hatred has always been here. Only now it’s been uncovered. We can all see it writhing in the open light of day. This is the source of my rage and sorrow; I thought we were better than this.
I thought we were better than this. I was wrong.
Maybe, it’s not a bad thing we are finally talking about it, galvanizing into action, watching unblinking as we find our voices to rise against the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia we’ve been living with all this time.
It’s been here all along. The elephant is not only in the room. It’s stalking the White House.