By: Brad Kneeland
For a slightly differing opinion on the election from the Blowhard please go here.
I woke up on November 8th full of hope and excitement. I love Election Day. I love voting, I love democracy, I love this country. November 8th was going to be a historic day—November 8th was going to be the day that we elected Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States. I put on my “Hillary for President” t-shirt, got my coffee and spent that day closely following the election pre-results on TV. I had waited 8 years for this moment. I love Hillary Clinton—I love her work on behalf of women and children. I love her commitment to public service. I love her work ethic. I love her resilience. As someone who knows what it is like to be kicked down, I so love how she gets up and never stops fighting for what she believes in.
I was optimistic about the election. My grandpa can’t watch sports when the game is close. I can’t tell you how many college football games we have gone to where he leaves his seats (good seats on the 50 yard line, front row at Washington Grizzly Stadium) and will go pace in the parking lot. I am the same way with politics. I had met my boyfriend and his friends at a bar to watch some of the election results before I left to meet my best friend for an election party at her co-workers house. As results were coming in, Donald Trump was already in the lead. My heart started to sink, but I was cautiously optimistic. The states that Donald Trump was winning (Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia) were all states that Hillary didn’t have a shot at. I left for the party, and as we watched results come in, I could see that Hillary wasn’t gaining the traction she needed. I felt sick to my stomach. This wasn’t the way the election was supposed to turn out. The polls, the pundits, EVERYONE had predicted a resounding Hillary Clinton victory. I was a shaking. I was nervous, I couldn’t process what was happening. How was Donald Trump winning this election? He bragged about sexually assaulting women. He called Mexican’s “rapists and drug dealers.” My best friend was as nauseous as I was. I called an Uber and headed back to my apartment. It was so clear that Donald Trump was going to win the election, I couldn’t stand to be around people.
I went home and went to bed around 11. I couldn’t stay asleep—I was up from 1:30am on. I started the next day in a haze. I don’t remember anything. I had a job interview, and I don’t even remember going to that. I was numb. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) how to process what was happening. Hillary Clinton’s loss felt like a loss for our whole nation. It felt like a loss for progress. It felt like a loss for freedom and diversity. It felt like fear and prejudice had won.
I’ve heard so many excuses for why Hillary Clinton lost. I’ve heard everyone talk about how Bernie Sanders could have beat Donald Trump. I resent that kind of talk, because I think it is a slap in the face to Hillary Clinton. I like Bernie Sanders. I like his policies. But I believed Hillary Clinton was the better candidate—the more prepared candidate. And listening to people jump ship on Hillary for Bernie is like placing the blame on her. It just seems insensitive. I’m so mad at people who didn’t vote in this election. I’m so mad for people who voted third party. I would never tell someone to not vote their conscience, but it's the third party voters (or the ones who didn’t vote at all) who are mad and upset about a Trump Presidency when they helped to effectively hand the election to him. You shouldn’t have voted for Hillary if you didn’t want to, but you should have been aware of what splitting the ticket looks like. It is the same thing that happened in 1992 when Perot split the GOP ticket and took votes away from Bush. I guess I think of it as hitting yourself in the head and blaming someone else. I've seen people who hated Hillary and didn't vote for her express their outrage that Trump was elected—what did you think was going to happen? For better or worse, America is a two-party system. If you don't vote for one party, it is a vote for the other. Was Hillary the perfect candidate? No. But was she better than Trump—absolutely. There is so much divisiveness in the Democratic Party right now; we’re all playing the blame game. There needs to be solutions to problems that went on in the party during the election, but I think Hillary Clinton deserves our thanks. She ran against Donald Trump. She went through a shit storm of sexism and misogyny during this election. People called for her to die; people called her vile, nasty names, and I’m going to defend her until I die. This woman has inspired millions—myself included—to become involved in public service. I refuse to abandon her or my party. I get a lot of shit for being a Hillary Clinton fan. People say I follow her blindly; people crap on her “scandals.” I have a problem with people bringing up the fucking emails and Wikileaks and using that against her. I have a problem with people putting those emails on the same level as being as bad as Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their pussy. I have a problem with people saying she isn’t trustworthy or personable. She wasn’t running to be our friend, she was running to be our President. I have a problem with people who unfairly crucify this woman because I see a lot of myself in her. I see someone who has been kicked down, over analyzed, rejected, and vilified. This woman has been through it all and has gotten back up every time, determined to do all the good she can for as long as she can. Why wouldn’t we want to see that in public life? Why wouldn’t we want that quality in a leader?
I was so exhausted the day after the election. My boyfriend and I got dinner and went back to his place, and I just fucking lost it. I started crying in his arms while we lay in bed. I don’t cry—I lack emotional depth. I don’t cry; I console people who cry. But there I was, sobbing. I couldn’t believe so many people would vote for a man and a party that thinks gay people are broken, that women are not equal, and that immigrants are terrorists. I thought about the sight of my boyfriend comforting me while I cried, and that made me cry even harder—how could someone hate that? And how could someone ever be terrified of their rights and their livelihoods and their dignity being taken away?
I’m at a loss of what to do. I have family members who voted for Trump. I have friends who voted for Trump. They say one of the reasons was because of immigrants and how dangerous ISIS is to—wait for it—gays and women. They wanted to protect gays and women, and so instead, they played into the right's hateful stereotypes of refugees and voted for a party whose ideology says that being gay means you're broken. They supported a man who bragged about grabbing women "by the pussy" and a party who believes that being gay can be cured with a little conversion therapy. Look at how much we pay women. Look at the sexist and misogynist rhetoric of this campaign and look at the increased violence against women and the gay community from people here in America and tell me that Trump and the GOP don't already value women as less than men or that gays aren't deserving of equal rights and protections. You might not accept the ideology, but you accept the candidate who does. Seeking to protect us by voting for Trump only makes us vulnerable because our civil liberties are now up for grabs. Tell me, what do I wear to conversion therapy? And now that women don't have to worry about making their own medical choices regarding reproductive health, maybe one of you can drop me off?
I hurt. I’m exhausted. I feel depleted of any emotion. But I am a proud Democrat, and I'm going to stand up for Democratic values, support Democratic candidates, and stand up to what is happening. We have work to do. I don’t know how to make this better. I don’t know where we as a people are going to begin. I was sad yesterday. I’m sad today, too. But I hope in a few days we can pick up the torch and move forward. We have work to do. We have to take back our country and our rights. I’m gonna be sad a few more days. I’m going to be afraid for a few years, but I hope you’ll join me in not giving up the fight. I really, truly believe that love trumps hate and that we are stronger together. When you’re afraid, take my hand, and when you’re feeling brave, do the same thing. We’re gonna get through this together.