Polls and predictions always leave room for error right? Even still, it’s not very often that they are wrong. I went into tonight’s election as a very disillusioned voter, but a proud American. I wasn’t a Clinton cheerleader whatsoever, but every time I looked at the alternative, I realized that regardless of the controversy that surrounded her campaign, she was the least likely of the two to ruin everything that we’ve worked so hard to build.
Back when I first hit voting age, I was a tried and true supporter of the Democratic Party. I was vocal about how much I loathed George W. Bush’s miscues as Commander-in-chief and I proudly sported my Kerry/Edwards pins and bumper stickers. I was your typical teen who thought I knew everything and didn’t want to listen to the other side. Who knows? I may have been right to think that way. Maybe Kerry would have done something in the White House that Bush didn’t do in his second term. With that being said, my youthful angst and know-it-all attitude wasn’t a healthy one. At some point, I had to grow up and that’s what I did. I started to listen to the other side instead of shunning them. I tried to understand why certain things were so important to them. Some of the things I even agreed with. Furthermore, the Democratic Party showed me that it wasn’t always the wonderland that I created in my mind, simply because I was so opposed to the George W. Bush regime.
I’m not going to lie. Regardless of my immense respect for John McCain and his service to this country, it didn’t take him announcing Sarah Palin as his running mate to get me on board for Barack Obama. I was on that boat long before it raised its sails. Regardless, this time around, I listened, I remained calm and I tried to get a grasp of why people felt so strongly one way or the other. In the end though, President Obama’s victory over Senator McCain left me full of hope. America was jobless, bleeding money, without healthcare and on it’s knees when President Bush left office. President Obama rarely ever brought his race into his campaign and that subtlety only added to the beauty of what seemed to be a nation turning a corner. A nation that was ready to shake the still recent wounds of segregation. A nation that was ready to move forward and have genuine discussions on building a country rather than judging its citizens.
Unfortunately, regardless of the leaps and bounds we made in eight years with President Obama, the judgment of religion, race, sexuality and choice got worse and worse. Despite the hatred, the nation still made huge leaps socially, especially in recognizing gay marriage. I saw friends of mine who had been together for years and years finally marry the person they loved and I saw friends who were too afraid to be themselves before, finally feel like they could.
During this election cycle when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the highest office in the land, we all kind of laughed it off. I have friends and family in Canada and France, many of them didn’t believe me when I told them that he was legitimately in the running. They honestly thought it was a joke. As many people did, early on, I thought that it wasn’t a terrible thing for a guy like Trump to throw his hat into the ring and shake things up. I was still pretty sure either Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio or even John Kasich would be the Republican nominee, so what was the hurt right? If I only knew.
What started out as something that seemed laughably innocent quickly gained traction with the most angry and hateful people in this country. You can try to tell me that his campaign wasn’t run on hate until you’re blue in the face, but I was at a Trump rally, I witnessed firsthand what his supporters were so wound up about. The economy, job growth, even Obamacare all took a backseat to the fear of Muslims, the anger toward our southern neighbor and the hatred for the LGBTQ community. His supporters weren’t motivated by policy, Trump didn’t have any policy. They were and still are motivated by hate.
When I woke up today, it was already warm in Bellingham, WA. The mercury quickly rose to 75 degrees as the day progressed and I thought it funny that we would have this completely bizarre summer-like day in November on Election Day. Perhaps it was the Environmentalist inside of me that felt like it was Mother Nature’s way of saying “please, RECOGNIZE CLIMATE CHANGE!”, but it was also the feeling of a nation starting to burn. Still, I told my Mom that I didn’t think it was going to be close. She was worried and I told her “nope, just because a lot of us don’t particularly like Clinton doesn’t mean much, she has the swing states, that’s all that matters. We won’t elect Donald Trump.” As the day went on, I still was confident that Hillary Clinton would be the first female President of the United States. I was disturbed by what I saw out of Trump’s supporters, but I still had faith that on a whole, this nation would choose love.
As I finish this up, Donald Trump is giving his celebration speech. Regardless of the length of his tenure, unless something crazy happens with the fraud charges he faces or he has a sudden change of heart, Trump will forever be known as President Donald Trump. A man who has never served this country as a soldier or politician. A man who mocked a disabled person, who disrespected a former POW, who spoke of sexually assaulting women as if it were an arcade game and a man who knowingly built a campaign with hate and continued to feed it with the same.
The message is “uniting”, it’s the cliche thing to say, it’s the “gracious” thing to do, but what do you really take us all for? His supporters expect a repeal of Roe Vs. Wade, a repeal of marriage equality, a banning of Muslims and a wall to be built between us and Mexico. That’s his platform, that’s what we can expect. This isn’t just politics anymore, this is something much more serious. I have Hispanic friends, I have gay friends, I have Muslim friends, African-American Friends, I believe that women have the final say about their own bodies for crying out loud. How are we supposed to take this? How am I supposed to continue to see it from the other side? Something I have tried to make a point of doing as I hopefully grow wiser. How am I supposed to see the hurt on the faces of my friends who weren’t born white and tell them that this is all going to be ok? How am I supposed to be ok with the fact that my gay and lesbian friends who finally got the chance to be with who they love, who have done a hell of a lot better job at it than many of my straight friends have, may not have that clear cut right anymore? How am I supposed to be a straight white man and feel good about the fact that I don’t have to worry when millions of others do?
I have grown up, I have learned to respect political opinions that aren’t in line with mine. I have learned that you don’t always get your way. I have learned it’s not so cut and dry as right and wrong. Sadly, I have also learned that too many people are far more interested in judging their fellow Americans than they are celebrating what this country was supposed to be. I will not and will never respect the hateful rhetoric that Donald Trump’s campaign was based on. I will fight tooth and nail to make sure everyone I love keep the rights they have. I want unity, but if a fight is what we’re given, then you best believe I am ready to step into the ring.
Get better soon America.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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