Recently, my office was mostly empty, except for a friend who works across the hall from me. When everyone is gone, I listen to public radio. She hears it from her office.
We both work and live in a predominantly white, suburban area. Our children go to school with predominantly white populations. We live in Trump Country.
I’ve heard stories of Trump supporters in urban areas keeping quiet about their choice of candidate for fear of admonishment from their liberal, urban peers. Well, it’s the opposite in white suburbia. You don’t want to talk too loudly about your liberal views, lest someone draw you into a debate which often can turn mean.
That’s the thing about identifying with a political candidate, or celebrity or anyone, really. You see something of yourself reflected. And Trump is mean. And I’ve heard his supporters say some really mean things…mostly racist, classist things. They feel safe around me because I am white in an affluent area. No need to look around first.
Anyway, we were listening to the radio and a Trump soundbite came on and my office-mate said something about not being able to listen to him anymore. We started talking about it.
We have something in common. We feel that our families are directly threatened by Trump’s presidency.
We shared with each other the moments we absolutely knew that we could never support him as a president. Or a human being.
For me, that moment was when he mocked a disabled reporter. It was a moment of absolute horror. I am the mother of a child with multiple disabilities. She looks different than her peers. She sounds different than her peers. She is cognitively different than her peers. Trump is exactly the kind of person I am afraid for her to meet out in the world. A person who is deliberately cruel.
My office-mate is a white woman. She is married to a black man. They have children. For her, it was when Trump was endorsed by white nationalists. And didn’t reject that immediately. When he became the party of the KKK.
For both of us, it’s when suddenly, we had an overwhelming feeling of fear for our children’s safety and well-being.
The day after the election was a day of shock and grief for us. And much of the nation. But for some, it was a day of victory and celebration. Then the after-dialogue started, on social media and in the general public.
On one side, there was a lot of grief and disbelief. And on the other, a lot of “get over it”. It was said in various ways. “It’s over now…move on.” “It is what it is…accept it.” Or, “We didn’t throw a big fit when your side won last time. Grow up.”
Hearing those things after a devastating loss, which was personal to so many of us, felt like getting kicked when we were down. And ultimately, it felt like a betrayal.
Knowing some of my friends voted for Trump, and so many strangers voted for him, felt like a betrayal both intimate and impersonal. It felt hopeless and dark, knowing so many people voted for a racist, misogynist, intolerant able-ist. The list is incomplete.
It’s been almost 3 months since the election. The wound hasn’t healed at all. And to those who say it’s time to move on, I say, “f**k off.”
I can’t look at my beautiful daughters and forgive. My friend with the interracial family can’t look at her beautiful children and forgive. Those votes made the world an uglier, less-safe place for our children, and for that, we can’t forgive.
Some Trumpers are having buyer’s remorse. Especially now that we have collectively experienced a week of Trump’s presidential moves.
In one week we’ve lost decades of work and diplomacy and expanding liberties for our citizens. In one week we’ve come much closer to destabilizing the world at large.
In one week, we have seen steps taken to deprive millions of people of their health-insurance, to de-fund programs for women and children, to de-legitimize the citizenship of a portion of our population due to their religious beliefs, to silence the free press, to tear apart families based on legal status, to ruin one of our best trade relationships and goodwill towards a neighboring nation. It is breath-taking. What it is not, is astonishing. Because he told us he wanted to do these things. And now he is.
And Trump voters heard all of it and chose it. They heard him say these things and mock people and objectify them and be a really horrible human. And still, they chose him. They chose a fascist nightmare with the ability to literally ruin the world.
Therefore, we can’t move on. Because those votes broke America. It wasn’t perfect, especially for people of color, women, non-Christians, the LGBTQ community, for people living in poverty and people struggling in rural communities. It wasn’t perfect but we were doing the hard work to try to improve those things. And hard work can take a long time. Trump was a desperate grab at a quick fix.
I cried over my daughter while she slept last night. What changes to the public education system might take away her much-needed services? What public cruelty will she be exposed to because permission has been granted by the actions of the highest office in the land?
No, I don’t think there will come a time when I will “move on.” What is far more likely, and I’m already scrambling for purchase, is that I will be dragged violently backward. And so will you, Trump voter or not.
I hope I’m wrong, and that one day I can make peace with what has been done. With the will of, not the popular majority, but of far too many citizens, regardless. I hope I reach that day and don’t feel the sting of betrayal. Sadly, today is not that day.