After waking up with a start at 3:30am—and not only being unable to get back to sleep but actually being wide awake—for the second day in a row, I thought it would be a good time to get some Election Day feelings out through my fingers while we still don’t know the fate of our country. It’s very peaceful sitting here in the dark, tapping on the keyboard, and I’ll take every moment of peace I can get today.
Things feel so very heavy compared to Election Day 2016. Things are heavy. It’s hard to have optimism when, four years ago this week, it seemed like there was absolutely no chance that Americans would hand over the highest office in the land to a sleazy reality show star over a woman who was one of the most qualified people on earth to handle the responsibilities that come with being the leader of our country…but that’s what happened. I remember that night clearly, as most of us do. I was home with our older son, watching the coverage on NBC. Each time a state was called for the Republican candidate, it was more upsetting and more unbelievable. At one point, and this is seared in my memory forever, my twenty-four year old son looked at me and said, “He’s not really going to win, is he?” I shook my head and said, “Absolutely not. There’s no way!”
But there was. And he did.
The past four years have been miserable—worse than any of us could have imagined, actually—for the people in this country who are not straight white Christian males and who care about the rights of others. We’ve watched the supposed leader of our country diminish our reputation in the world (by alienating our best allies and cozying up to dictators, for starters), tell lies and gaslight his followers each and every day more times than what’s possible to count (though many have tried), embolden white supremacy (by refusing to denounce it as well as making racist comments and insinuations regularly) encourage violence, roll back environmental protections, use the office for his own personal gain, spectacularly fail his citizens beyond belief during the worst public health crisis of our lifetime, and so many other things that I could never list all of them.
The heaviness we’re all feeling is part exhaustion, part PTSD, and part wanting to have hope but being afraid, not only that we’ll have a terrible outcome after all the votes have been counted, but that our democracy will die in the process. I’m one of the most optimistic people out there in normal circumstances but it’s been tough, I can’t lie.
Part of my angst (and likely yours and yours and yours, too) is that I really don’t understand how there COULD be a choice in some people’s minds. We truly are voting for our lives this year. There is only one choice.
The constant gaslighting by this administration has its followers believing that voting for a second term of this dumpster fire is “patriotic”. That’s untrue and, frankly, ridiculous.
The America that we strive for is one that cares for justice and equality for all of her citizens, no matter their gender, race, religion, income level, political party, et cetera. That America believes in religious freedom for individuals while separating church and state. That America is an active participant in preserving the Earth’s environment. That America stands with other like-minded countries in the world on making things better and not worse. That America has a leader who wants to lead all of the people, not just the ones who agree with him (and someday, her). There is only one patriotic choice here, and it’s not the current administration.
This election has the potential to have the best kind of blockbuster movie ending: nice guy (along with his super-smart sidekick) wins the presidency and starts putting the pieces back together, to get our country back on track and work towards being the literal United States of America, leading every single one of us with his words and actions. I am encouraged by the massive early voting turnout and the many Republicans/conservatives who are voting country over party among other things, but still cannot bring myself to be as “sure” as I was in 2016. It’s not over until it’s over.
I’ll tell you something though, whether it happens or not, our work isn’t done. American politics is no longer a spectator sport.
While I relish the idea of waking up on many future mornings without having to rub my temples as I watch “The Today Show,” getting caught up on what our “leader” has done nowwww, I don’t plan to shrink away quietly, like that Homer Simpson-into-the-bushes GIF. We can’t and shouldn’t do that. If things are going to change, even a new administration can’t do it alone. We need to stay vigilant in a participatory way. We need to vote in every election, not just every four years. We need to continue to have tough conversations. We need to come together. I hope the results of this election will make it easier to accomplish.
Be kind to yourself and others today and especially in the next few days, friends. May we finally get this car turned around so we can work towards an America that is indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.