|New York Time|
Words by Ann LeMonnier/ @cooljewishboyy
I fell asleep around 11:30 on Tuesday night, after two hours of anxiously watching the polls with my parents and cats. I could barely keep my eyes open and I knew I’d have to wake up early for school the next day, so I called it a night. I slept pretty calmly. I mean we’d been discussing for weeks the seemingly inevitable Hillary Clinton victory. Though Trump was surprisingly ahead, I had confidence that in the morning, I’d be witnessing the election of our first female president. This is the part where I address my own white privilege.
Let’s take it back a little. In the beginning of this election, I was a mix of excited and nervous. This was my first presidential election as a clearheaded and politically aware seventeen year old and it finally seemed like I had a voice, or at least platform where I could speak my mind. I joined organizations like High Schoolers For Bernie and helped register people to vote democratically in New York City. I’m going to admit now: I was rather against Hillary in the beginning. Bernie Sanders was my ideal candidate; his policies mirrored my own needs (fixing the student debt issue being my biggest factor in liking him) and as a jewish american, I was drawn to the idea of having a president that shared my culture. As this stage went on, I participated in the regular election jokes and discourse, calling Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer (I even thought the theory was funny enough to add to my Tinder bio: “Ted Cruz is definitely the Zodiac Killer") and “felt the Bern”. As we were over here joking about how we’d move to Canada if Trump won, people of color, Muslims, and immigrants were fearing for their lives.
I am a Jewish, queer, woman. These three characteristics make me fear for my own well being under the Trump administration. Yet, as I sat there watching PBS on November 8th, I realized how much blind optimism I had for America. As a white person, I have such little experience of how cruel and dehumanizing the world can really be. I’m quite naive. In the days leading up to the election, I was nervous but had confidence Hillary could pull through. She was doing well in the polls and after the whole “Grab ‘em by the pussy” situation, it seemed nearly impossible for this sorry excuse of a presidential candidate to actually become our next leader.
This morning, I awoke to the seemingly unreal. Having only received the news a few days ago, I am still in complete shock. I am heartbroken. I am terrified. I am feeling every single awful feeling of our future at once and this time it’s real. I remember laughing at an Onion article about a year ago, featuring a picture of Trump and claiming, “Let’s see how far this goes.”. The biggest part of the joke it doesn't seem to end. This is the jest with no punchline.
Tuesday night, I was pinning Hillary buttons to my denim jacket and listening to my mom repeatedly say, “She’ll catch up, she has to.” Today, I took a deep breath and really looked at how this happened. Because it did. We can’t continue living under the false premise that America is the land of the free. We can’t continue standing idly and assuming everything will work out. Change needs to be made and the only way to do so is actually have discourse.
Though this election has somehow fooled us into thinking proper conduct includes screaming over our opponent, making generalized statements based off of pure ignorance, and saying whatever will get us the biggest headlines, this is a call for true public discourse. This is a call for protests. This is a call for actually coming to terms with the falsity of the phrase “with liberty and justice for all”. This is the horror story of how the American people elected a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, bigoted, excuse for a human as their next leader. I am terrified for my future as a queer woman. I am terrified for my expression as a Jew. I am terrified for every single one of my Muslim and POC and immigrant friends. But most importantly, I am terrified for our future as a nation. Silence is equivalent to violence and the oblivious complacency that got us here in the first place.