Today I cried.
I exhaled a breath I’ve been holding for 4 years. I’ve seen so much commentary on how people should handle this moment, should we reflect the actions of others 4 years ago, should we burden the responsibility of uniting our clearly divided and polarized society. Yet, for the last 4 years I can say I’ve heard so much about and from the people who voted and will vote for Donald Trump. I’ve read the reports, the elegies and the thinkpieces. I’ve heard the podcasts and the focus groups all living rent free in my brain.
But today isn’t for them.
Today, this week, hell this month is for us. No discourse has even attempted to try and encapsulate what the last 4 years have done to us and the ways we’ve held on to it all.
The things we’ve seen,
The fear I’ve felt, the pain I’ve witnessed.
The gross indecencies I’ve tried and failed to stomach.
The times I’ve had to do deep research to see what would happen if they went after our marriage or our desire to be parents.
The threat of nuclear war, the kids separated from their parents, the kids in cages, the roundups of people, the abuses of power, the profiteering off the office, the deep obvious corruption, the obliviousness to said corruption, the complete destruction of all the norms and procedures of the office, the mendacity towards anyone who did not praise wholeheartedly, the complete inoculation to criticism, the lies, the needless deaths, the continued restrictions necessary because of lack of leadership, he desire to be at the center of every single issue of every single day, of turning any aspect of our government and security operation into blatant politics, the decimation of our entire soft power and standing in the world, the leadership we used to hold in the eyes of our allies, and the respect reserved in the eyes of our enemies.
The hundreds of times my heart has broken, deeply broken, for my country and the repeated refrain that my feelings should be forgotten.
The noise we’ve had to make to try and get people to notice all of these things and the silence that came in response.
The knowledge that there was nothing we could do about any one of those things. The gnawing relentless call for cynicism, of what would never be possible, what was inevitable, the chorus of inevitable death.
The deep structural disadvantage of knowing that 3 million more people didn’t want this but acting like 6 million more people did. The days and weeks and months of vigilance and outrage and activism and engagement.No one was coming to save us, no one cared.
We’ve been holding on, and if it seems like we were being extreme it’s because our belief in our democracy was barely holding together. We had to hold it together. We’ve had to get involved, make calls, text friends, and be constantly vigilant for four years to have the right message and the right argument and the right links and the right phrases and always balanced with not being too negative so we didn’t lose a fragile coalition of wildly different ideologies.
While we can look at the states colors and feel lost or confused, we can also know that 4 million more people chose one person over another, they just didn’t live in the right states. Yet we can know in the end Biden flipped more states blue than in previous elections. In every state there are people who voted for Biden and people who voted for Trump, but our egregious system makes us erase those values.
Yet, as always, it was the marginalized, the young, the already disadvantaged, the disregarded that brought us home. The communities of color in cities often maligned for their dangers are the very people who will end up making a difference. They came in Detroit, and Atlanta, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Philadelphia. We tell folks that every vote matters and look at the margins of victory thousands of votes here and there. As always our collective power is amplified if we believe in what each of us is capable of individually.
So, exhale. Let it go.
Feel what that feels like to breathe, maybe for the first time in a while.
Don’t let the voices of cynicism deny you this right to pause, to feel something of relief. Today it’s easier to talk to our kids and to say that being a decent human being is still important.
Next to my parking lot at work, there is a complex that has had a giant sign for 5 years saying “President Trump will Make America Great Again” Monday I’ll walk from my car and for the first time I can look at that sign and smile because it isn’t true anymore.
We deserve this, and tomorrow we’ll figure out how to heal from it.
But don’t deny yourself this. You need it.