I have been silent about this election season. I have opinions. You have opinions. I do not want to force my opinions on you. I do not want you to force your opinions on me. What I do want is to be able to say that I did my part as an informed voter. I want you to tell me you did the same. I have friends who voted for Donald Drumpf. I have friends who voted for Hillary Clinton. I have friends who wrote in giant meteor (which I think we can all admit might have been the best option). In the end, I watched from afar as my country voted a racist, mysogenistic, ignorant, orange demagogue into the oval office.
I woke up this morning to see a serene snow covered balcony. I lay in my warm bed in Aarhus Denmark next to my fiance and my cat. This was highly juxtaposed to the black pit in my stomach that I felt drop through the floor as I read the news and thought about what I might have to go home to in a couple years after my post doc is over. I cried. My labmates asked me about the election results at work this morning. I cried some more. My best friend called me on her way to work. We cried together.
I wanted Bernie Sanders to be my next president. I voted for him in the primaries. That said: I voted for Hilary Clinton in the general election. No, she was not my first choice. But as I saw it, she was the only choice. Yes, she would likely have led our country into a more brutal version of the Obama administration. But you know what? I voted for Barack Obama twice. He spoke of change and in the end he did not accomplish all he set out to do. He did, however, bring around the first attempt I have seen in my lifetime at national healthcare in the US. Is it perfect? No. It isn’t. But we are finally talking about it and actually trying to do something. During his time in office, we saw gay marriage made federally legal in all 50 states. We saw unemployment in our country decrease. We saw our national deficit decrease. We saw the wage gap between men and women decrease. We were pulled out of the great recession of 2007. We saw public support of planned parenthood from our countries figure head. We saw support of the decriminalization of marijuana use. We saw the use of private federal prisons brought to an end.
It has not been a bed of roses. We also saw racial violence and mass shootings. We saw the deportation of more immigrants from our country than any other time in history. While we did not see open warfare, we did see covert military operations that are perhaps more deadly than their straight-faced counterparts. We saw a nation at odds with itself. We saw a house divided.
It was a mixed bag but I still, to this day, feel like we made progress. If I could go back in time to 2008/2012 and cast my vote again, I would still vote for Barack Obama.
I cast my ballot last week. I did my duty as an informed voter. I read up on the political background and stance on all the typical issues, of every water conservation board chair, circuit court judge, and Florida supreme court judge on the ballot. I read and re-read the propositions and made sure I understood the implications of these props passing or not passing before I marked my yes or no answer. I received an email confirmation that Seminole county office of elections had received my ballot and that my vote would be counted. I watched my friends post their ‘I Voted’ sticker pictures to Facebook. At last count, 129 million citizens of the US voted yesterday. There are just under 320 million citizens living in the US. 1/3. Only 1/3 of our population thought it was important enough to go out and make their vote heard. Can you see how shameful that is? People all over the world fight and die for the right to make their voice heard in their government. Only 1/3 of the american population eligible to vote thought it was worth their time to do so.
1/3. To top it off, more than half of that 1/3 thought it was the correct decision to vote for Donald. Fucking. Trump.
I don’t have words to explain how I am feeling right now. We have just voted a man who was literally filmed saying ‘grab them by their pussies’ into the oval office. A man who called Mexicans rapists and ‘bad hombres’. A man who built a campaign platform on the building of a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. A man who boasts that he intends to bar code and serially categorize Muslims in our country. A man whose idea of a policy statement is to say ‘We will have the best policies. You will see. You can’t even believe how great our policies will be.’ A man who thinks the government should have the right to decide what a woman can do with her body. A man who has said that he would date his own daughter if they were not related. A man who still thinks global warming is a fucking hoax.
A colleague of mine says that perhaps it won’t be as bad as we think. Maybe since he is such an ignorant and loud buffoon, it will take Drumpf ages to get anything done. He thinks that maybe he is all talk, and in the end he will not be able to really make any major changes in the way things are done in the US. He thinks that the republican party will be able to put a leash on this whore hound. He thinks that maybe Trump is all talk but in the end he won’t be so bad.
I hope to fucking god you are right, Bruno.
This is not the America I grew up in. I grew up in a town characterized by its diversity. It was uncommon for their to be more than five children of the same nationality in any of my classes. I was taught to be fair, and respectful. To try to learn from other peoples perspectives. To try to grow together with your fellow humans. We were taught that our diversity makes us more than the sum of our parts. That together, we are stronger. That together, we are better. As a woman, a future mother, a friend, an American, a scientist, a citizen of planet earth… I am embarrassed and terrified. There will come a day when I can be angry about what has happened and I can join ranks with the political revolutionaries. Today is not that day.
Today, I mourn. With whiskey.