On the 2016 Election

It’s not often I find myself completely at a loss for words. I’m pretty vocal about what I think, especially online, and I almost always know just what that is. Last night as I watched the election results with my family, I went from upbeat optimism to guarded optimism to anxious optimism to, well, let’s just skip right to the end, where I turned the television off at 11:15.

The writing was already on the wall by then. I didn’t want to subject myself to being both tired *and* disappointed. And if I woke up in the morning and discovered a last minute miracle fixed all of this? Wonderful.

But I woke up and checked and nope: no miracle.

So what do I think? What do I say? I’ve been mulling it over and over and over, like many of you. And in the end, I guess I’ll use a trick I turn to whenever I have writer’s block. I write about the block itself. Write around it. So what follows is *not* the sum of my thoughts on the election results. Those thoughts can’t be put into words just yet, it seems. But it’s a series of thoughts I have around it.

  • Running a country is a team sport. Living in a country is being part of a team. Sometimes that means that everyone agrees with what you want done. Sometimes it means that the majority thinks things should be done in a different way. As much as you might wish things were different, elections are what they are. We live with the results, and we move on.
  • Labeling people is something I’m against, period. I don’t know of anything good that comes of reducing a complex human being to one category, whether it’s “gay,” “Trump supporter,” “Mormon,” or anything in between. This isn’t to say those categories don’t matter. They do. But they should never be substituted for the whole. So just as I’d hope our country doesn’t make a blanket ban against “Muslims,” I’d also hope we don’t dismiss an entire slice of the country as “Trump supporters” and write them off as racist, close-minded bigots who just want to shoot things. Because that isn’t true. It’s true for some of them, sure. But not all.
  • Why did so many people vote for Trump? The best argument I can think of for Republicans is that Trump was the head of their team for this game. Sure, they didn’t like a whole lot of what came out of his mouth, but by electing him, they hoped to elect a group of people who would agree with their world view. They were electing a Vice President, Cabinet, and Supreme Court justices. It was more than the man.
  • That said, I’m deeply disappointed in the Republican party and the people who voted for Trump. As I’ve said many times on my blog, I believed Trump stood for far too much evil. That he had to be spat out no matter what. I’m shocked so many women voted for the man. (42%) Shocked so many Latinos voted for him (29%). But even as I write that, I remind myself about my earlier point. People can’t be labeled. They’re more than a race or a gender.
  • To comfort myself, I keep in mind how many failed promises presidents have made over the years. How often they end up falling short of what they said they’d accomplish. But then I remember we also handed Trump a united Congress and an empty Supreme Court seat. We cleaned the car, waxed it, topped off the tank, and tossed him the keys. Where does he want to drive it? I think of all the areas that worry me: global warming, gun violence, racial violence, international relations, nuclear proliferation, a return to the Cold War mentality, the economy, ISIS, terrorism, social security, healthcare, and more . . . No wonder I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around all of it.
  • Much of what Trump will actually do is a big question mark in my head. I’ve been living with a Trump Lite governor for the past 6 years or so. LePage pretty much can be counted on to say stupid things, do stupid things, make Maine look idiotic, and get not a whole lot done. At the moment, I’m feeling like that’s the best case scenario for the next four years. Really hoping I’m wrong.
  • Globally, the world might be on its own for the next few years. Trump seems set on a return to some isolationist ideas. Some of that might speed up a trajectory I’ve already been observing: the rest of the world realizing it doesn’t need America. In a rush to make America great again, I can’t help wonder if we’re going to make America irrelevant.
  • Last night, Trump could have said anything he wanted in his victory speech. I suppose I’m glad that he at least tried to make things sound like he’s going to be less than insane? Though I wonder how long that will last.

I just sort of feel like America was inspired by The Apprentice and decided to go with a real live reality TV show. Unfortunately, I’m worried it’ll turn out more like Wheel of Fish than The Amazing Race.

Usually after I write these blog posts, I feel like I have a better handle on the world. Like I’ve come to an understanding. Often I write to find peace with difficult subjects. But here I am at the end of the post, and there’s still no peace to be found. In the end, all I have to turn to is the knowledge that awful things have happened in this world before. It remains to be seen if a Trump presidency will be as awful as I’ve feared. But even if it is, the world will go on. I do have faith in humanity, even when humanity reminds me how good it is at making poor decisions.

Hope has to continue. And I guess I’ll leave this post at that.

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