I do not have words to accurately describe how I am feeling right now. There is no language for this emotion. I could say I am in despair, in disbelief, in mourning, in anguish, in terror, in anger, in grief but all of it sounds like hyperbole and yet, none of it comes remotely close to the level of pain and confusion I am feeling. Who are all these voters who went into the polling booths, checked the mark that made him our next President?
I hear a lot of people on the talk shows and even friends echoing these expert’s comments such as how people are frustrated and expressing their anger, how they feel left out so this was their way of “sending a message to Washington”, or how people want to “shake things up” so they voted for the “outsider.” And yet, none of it rings true to my ears.
Yes, I realize there are people who are angry, who feel their voices aren’t heard, who feel their economic and social concerns have not been addressed, or who think two party systems is wrong for this country or that drastic changes need to be made at all levels of government.
However those are not the true reasons why Trump won the presidency. Let’s be honest for once. He won because the voters who voted for him find him in alignment with most/some of their beliefs. More than Hillary did. He won in spite of concrete evidence of him being a racist, misogynist, egomaniac, ignorant bully. And those voters not only were able to condone, overlook, gloss over his flaws, some of them applauded these characteristics. We teach our children to be respectful, to play fair, to follow the rules, to work hard, and yet, some of the parents still voted for this man. Why? Is it because in the heart of hearts, they feel the same as Donald J Trump feels? That America is overrun by the others (immigrants), that women can be disregarded like second class citizens, that being a troll is acceptable, being crass is “telling like it is”, that kindness is not important, that compassion is a weakness. I am positive these same people walk the same road as I do, breathe the same air, perhaps hold the door open for me at times, smile at me in the elevators, or call me a friend or work side by side to accomplish tasks. Yet they voted for Trump, the epitome of hate and nastiness.
How did we get here?
The liberal in me wants to hold onto this belief that it is because we are human. That everyone of us has a dark side: this overpowering meanness in us. When we cut off someone on the road, and feel a sense of gratification we express this “us” vs. “them” side in us. When we assume we are always right and they are always wrong, when we side with our kids when they get into trouble with authority, without looking into if our kids are in the wrong or in the right, when we rage against the others for our deficiencies, we act like him. We become him. When we say, we are being wronged, they are discriminating us, they are taking our jobs away, they are to blame for all of our problems, we become Trump. When we vilify others, we move further away from others. Is it really shocking then, that after 8 years of President Obama and the democrats being painted as the devils, the people who have already had an inclination to view the world as “us” and “them”, would vote for the person who claims to have the weapon to slay the demons?
I had hoped that the majority of us would notice this darkness in us, and that we would be able to recognize that the demons we fear and loathe are in fact residing inside us. We fear them because it is easier to fear and hate the others than to acknowledge our own flaws or fear of our flaws. Every single person who voted for him must have felt that they were in fact vanquishing the demonic side of America: the immigrants, the non-whites, the Muslims, all the others that have been painted as the villains of this society.
People say, get over it. The sun will come out tomorrow. We will take one step, and then another step. Will we? Will there be a firm ground for us to take these steps on during the next four years? What will be the atmosphere for all of us who do not agree with this version of “Great America Again”?
I am a proud immigrant. I have always loved America even as a little girl growing up on the other side of the world where oppression and discrimination was all I had known. I had looked up to the rights and freedom this country has given to all of her people, and had always been inspired by her democratic values. Right now, I am feeling betrayed. Right now, I am feeling like I’d been living a delusional dream. Right now, I am feeling irrational. I am feeling this overwhelming fear and distrust of this country I have called home for the last twenty years. My demons are whispering that this country (or majority of population) does not accept us, the non-white immigrants. This country does not want to treat us as equal.
Yes, sure, I will take one step and another step, and then another and another after that. Every day I will wake up, go to work, pay my taxes (unlike our new president), treat my friends and coworkers and strangers with respect and courtesy even if we sometimes disagree with each other. I will work my ass off to “fit in” and be a contributing member of this country. But my demon says, give it up, Aye, it won’t make a damned difference. Not at this time in America. Not right now. Or maybe it never will. I have never been accepted. I will never belong. Not as long as I remain brown, speak with an accent, look at this world from a different perspective. The thin veneer has been stripped away to reveal the truth. There is nothing worth seeing underneath.
My demon says, I am The Others as they are to me.