It’s painful to remember how excited I was on Tuesday morning. The day, at least in my circles, had a feeling of celebration to it. Everyone on my social media feeds was proudly posting selfies as they voted for the “nasty woman.” My neighborhood barista was wearing a “Make Donald Drumpf Again” hat. He was going to lose and Drumpf he would be.
I thought I understood, but it wasn’t until I filled in the bubble for “Hillary Clinton — President” that the importance and weight of her pending win made itself known. I cried. Right there at that tiny voter desk with the pen attached by a string, I cried with pride. A woman on the ballot. I’d volunteered for Hillary for months, supported her candidacy for years, and up until that moment was sure that I understood how much a female president meant. Seeing her name on the ballot gave me the full realization of what it might feel like to no longer be thought of as less-than just for being female. It made me understand, that equality (real equality) was something American women had never known and maybe never even realized.
Twenty four hours later, I was standing on a corner in Chinatown crying again, this time over our new future. Just as seeing her name on the ballot hit me with unexpected power, so too did her loss. Her loss took every less-than feeling I’ve ever had and made it real; it took every vulnerability I’ve ever felt as female and made it so. A woman came up to me as I stood there crying. She touched my arm, “I know, I’m so sorry,” she said, and walked on. Another woman driving past stuck her face up to the glass of the passenger seat window and mouthed to me, “we’re going to be ok.” They were feeling it too; that equality high and then the face first cliff fall that kept us up for most of the night and sick for the rest of the week.
Trump’s win, and the uncertainty it brings, is terrifying. I can imagine the want for change, for a political outsider, for a person to take American politics by the lapels and rattle its bones. But the Trump vote relies entirely on rhetoric, and a hateful one at that. A Trump vote condones bigotry: he is a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, and he is now our soon-to-be president. He denies the rights of women, of the queer community, of those who are differently abled, and people of color. Trump is supported by the Klan. Trump has been accused by a host of women of sexual assault. Trump has said climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. Trump thinks “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.” Trump plans to build a wall. To deport people en masse, to enact nationwide stop and frisk policies. I could keep going.
There are those hopeful few who say that President Trump won’t be as hateful as candidate Trump, but nothing erases that this philosophy is the one on which he ran and won. “If the president can grab women by the pussy, why can’t I?” Hate, all along, was the trump card.
So what do we do know? I’ve been thinking about that since Wednesday. First we cry, and we have been. Then, we get angry and we get moving. America is our home, and should be one we’re proud of. An election may end but social progress does not. And while Trump may be our president-elect, we never need to accept his truths as our values. As an “elite, liberal, New Yorker,” Trump’s win makes me want to better understand this country. As a woman, it makes me want to work harder, and be stronger, more powerful, more successful than ever before.
This election changed our lives, and the future of this nation. I worry because already, less than a week after his win, I can hear the fight edging out of people’s voices, but we can’t let that happen. This hateful win must become the jolt of energy we need to make equality, and justice American realities and not just political talking points. In filling in the “Hillary Clinton—President” bubble I felt a surge of hope for an equal America. That is not a feeling I am willing to give up. We must make it so.
This post originally appeared in the newsletter Sunday Reads.