Please note that this post is a bit stream-of-consciousness. I have not had time to fully form my thoughts about the election.
Like so many of you, I woke this morning to a world ripped open. I was up until well after midnight yesterday watching US election results and holding my baby daughter. It feels symbolic that she chose yesterday to claim her voice. She’s mostly been a quiet baby, but yesterday she discovered a whole range of new vocalizations and has been yelling up a storm ever since. We are going to need to find our voices in the days ahead. This morning I’m having trouble finding mine.
The rise to power of a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, self-aggrandizing, megalomaniac who has campaigned with a message of hate and bullying leaves me sick and horrified. The American people could have chosen a highly qualified, while certainly imperfect, woman with a track record of fighting for the rights of women and children, but they chose this hate filled man instead. I can’t understand what was in the hearts of those who supported Trump, and that, I’m sure, is a large part of the problem. Clearly the world is full of disenfranchised and angry people who are now seeking a bizarre form of vengeance and none of us knew they were there. My own optimism was obviously misplaced, and a huge part of the American population who have previously felt ignored and unrepresented have suddenly found a monstrous champion in the form of Donald Trump. Who are these people and what is the nature of their pain? I wonder what the road to healing is for all of us when such a deep and terrible darkness has been given such power. I have no idea what the world will look like in the coming years as Trump begins attempting to execute his plans for America. Will we really end up with a wall? Will he really repeal Roe vs. Wade? Will gay marriage rights be reversed? And will those things be only the tip of the iceberg as he wreaks havoc on international relations, the environment, and social justice? These questions are too big for me right now and what I am left with are the faces of my children and decisions about what to tell them now and in the coming years.
My boy is nearly five years old, and believes that Trump is similar to a super villain. What do I tell him now when the world has watched bullying, fear-mongering, hatred, and intolerance win the most powerful office in the world. It’s hard to believe that kindness, inclusiveness, and respectful debate are the roads to success when that hasn’t played out on such a large political scale. How do you teach your boy to respect women and see them as equals when the president of the united states is demonstrably abusive to women and is still supported by millions of people. What do you say if people you have considered friends defend Trump publicly?
And for my daughter, who is only four months old, and can’t understand any of this yet–for her I am most saddened. As the symbolic glass ceiling that was installed at Clinton headquarters last night was abandoned intact I cried. There is no way to say that the work of feminism is over in the aftermath of this election. While a huge number of issues contributed to Trump’s election, it is unavoidable that the gender of his opponent came into play. How would the world look today if Hillary Clinton had been a man, email scandal and all?I don’t think that Clinton should have been elected because she was a woman and that would be a warm and fuzzy historical moment. She should have been elected because she was the most qualified candidate for the job. Something that surely plays out in offices all over the world just played out in a major political election: unqualified man gets the job over deeply qualified woman. The voters have spoken. And I can’t help but lose faith in my own societal standing as a woman . Every time I turn on the TV or the radio for the next four years I will have to listen to the vitriol spouted by an abuser who has been put on a pedestal. And my grief barely registers when compared to the grief of those many groups that Trump has labelled “Other” who will be subject to his despicable oppression over the course of his term in office.
I am so angry, yet I realize that adding more hate to the fire will do nothing to fix all the things that led to this electoral outcome. All I can do now is try to foster the values that I hold dear in my own family. I found myself so on edge today that I became frustrated with my fussy baby and yelled at my preschooler. I can’t let Trump do that. Taking my frustrations out on my family only works to spread the contagion of hate and ill will that Trump has falling off him like rot.
We have work to do people, and it would be a mistake to sit idly by and assume that none of this can happen in Canada. Already a contender for leader of the Conservative Party, Kellie Leitch, is attempting to gain favour with Canada’s own racists and bigots by adopting a Trump-like stance. We must remain vigilant in the months and years to come, because hatred has a terrible way of spreading. It will be a noxious miasma wafting over from the US and stirring up all the latent racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and generalized distrust that we like to pretend doesn’t exist at all in Canada. I still like to hope that it’s better here, but complacency led to the Trump win and complacency could send Canada into a similar tailspin I’m sure. That’s not the future I want for my children. I consider this a wake up call. Though I’m still not entirely sure what to do next.
For the moment I can practice gratitude–I can influence my children and teach them to have respect for all fellow human beings. I can be thankful that in Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, we have a leader who is generally the polar opposite of Trump, and I can find solace in my wonderful family and friends who are helping me to work through and analyze this political nightmare. There are so many smart, aware, and wise messages floating around on social media today that I can’t help but regain at least a smidgen of hope.
Tomorrow, when I’ve slept, I hope that I can think more about concrete action that can be taken at home to counteract four years of Trumpian influence on myself, my children, my community. While it seems that history is repeating itself in terrifying ways, perhaps we still have the power to rise out of the ashes, even those of us who aren’t American citizens and cannot participate in their democratic process.
I spent the afternoon working on a crochet project with a friend. I needed the company and the monotony of one single crochet stitch after another. My nerves are shot, and simple projects are calming. I think this is how we must move forward–one intentional stitch at a time.