Last night I went to sleep around 3:15am (9:15 EST). Florida was still too close to call and would remain that way for a while. I figured I’d go to bed and wake up and find that Clinton had won by a small margin as all the polls predicted.
I woke up to a much different scenario. Instead I woke up to multiple texts telling me check the election coverage and the polls. I woke up to 99% of my Facebook friends in distress: anxious and scared. And I can honestly echo those sentiments. Since I woke up I have felt nauseated and there have been a few times when I have held back tears. I’ve dealt with the incredulous questions of my friends and students around me in Germany who don’t understand how something like this could have happened.
This is so very different than any other election we have had. There has been harsh rhetoric and solidified party lines and upset voters after every single election. But this is so much more than a disgruntled voter who has to deal with four years of policy they don’t agree with. This is four years of uncertainty of women’s rights, marriage equality, economic security, and the safety of people of color and different religions.
I am by no means a die hard Clinton fan. I did not rally with the troops; I didn’t knock on doors; I never one posted the Imwithher hashtag. But I could never in my life vote for Trump and it has nothing to do with policy. In any other election, I would have listened to the arguments of both sides, based my decision on the validity of their statements and chosen to vote for a candidate that way. In fact, I am a registered independent, so had we had a Republican candidate that could convince me they were the best choice for their country I would have voted for them. That is how are democratic system is supposed to work.
Here is what I need to tell everyone who voted for Trump. You can easily say you are not racist, not homophobic, and not sexist. You can say you are voting for Trump’s policies, like protection of second amendment rights, stronger border security, and conservative economic and social policies. You can say you are upset with the establishment of government and didn’t want to elect a career politician you didn’t trust. You can say we have no reason to be afraid because Trump won’t be that bad. That he won’t be able to accomplish the things he said he would during his campaign. And in any other election, that would have been fine with me.
With Trump you are not voting policy: you are not voting economic policy and foreign relations, you are not even voting for Trump. You are instead voting for every racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic zealot who grasped onto Trump’s rhetoric and expanded it into violence and hate. You are not voting for a presidential candidate, but a group of people who want to move the country’s progress back 50 years. You are voting for a representation of America that strikes fear into women, the LGBTQ community, and POC. I woke up to friends who were crying and scared.
This election was not about policy, it wasn’t about a republican candidate for president, it wasn’t even about Trump. His entire campaign was based around fear and hate and today fear and hate won. And I am afraid. And my friends are afraid. And the difference this time is, that I have never been afraid of a presidential candidate before.
Why am I afraid?
I am afraid for myself. You voted for a man that talks about women as if they are objects. A man with a rape case against him and multiple allegations of sexual assault. To which he says they are only in it for the money (devaluing every woman who reports her assault) and establishing a man’s right to take whatever he wants and ruining decades of progress. As a victim of sexual assault I can no longer feel confident that my voice will be heard and my feeling validated. I am afraid. When he talks about the way he can touch women, he supports men touching me just because they feel like it. I see his face and I think that he has no respect for me unless I meet his standards of beauty. I see his hands and all I can imagine are his large, sweaty hands grasping at women, at me.
I am afraid for my LGBTQ friends. You voted for a candidate whose running mate supports conversion therapy, which is scientifically proven not to work and causes an 8x increase in the suicide rate among those forced to participate. Friends who finally received equal rights and marriage equality and still have so much more to gain and are afraid they will lose it all.
I am afraid for other women. This presidency supports punishments for those who get abortions, talks about women as objects (pieces of ass rated on a scale of predetermined beauty) and wants to overturn Roe v Wade and make it more difficult for women to access the healthcare they need.
I am afraid for every group he has attacked or generalized during his campaign. They now have a president who wants to ostracize Muslims and immigrants, categorizes Mexicans as rapists, POC as criminals and threatens anyone who doesn’t support him with lawsuits or violence.
People are not upset that Trump won’t follow their ideal economic policy the next four years, they are legitimately afraid of the rhetoric of hate that the people who voted for Donald Trump support and that he does not support democracy (unless he wins, of course). And that is why I cannot understand why you voted for Donald Trump.
And that is why I am afraid.