An open letter to the United States of America:
I am in shock. I barely slept last night. I woke up today to what I thought would only happen in my worst nightmares.
I am 19 years old. A few weeks ago I sent an absentee ballot to my home state of Georgia from my college campus in Connecticut. I was excited; the first time I had ever voted in a presidential election, and it was for a woman. And at the time, I was confident she would win.
The race tightened. I got nervous, but I was still confident. I studied the polls, the early vote counts, the turnout trends. FiveThirtyEight became my most visited website. I regularly checked Twitter to see if any new information was coming through. As election day came, I was quietly sure that by the end of the night I would see history made.
I did see history made last night, we all did. It just isn’t the kind I wanted.
Last night, I expected to be able to call my mom joyous because we saw the first woman president elected. Instead, I called my mom sobbing as I saw my country heading in a direction so far from where it should be going.
I am 19 years old. I am so scared for my future. What kind of legislation will a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President pass that will have untold effects on the rest of my life? I have to live in this country for the rest of my life. The fact that a large portion of Trump’s electorate was middle-aged (or older) does not pass by me. They don’t have to live with this decision for much longer. I (and my generation) do.
I am terrified of what happened last night. I am terrified as a woman, as a Jew, as a young person. But the amount of pain and terror that I am feeling is nothing compared to what people of color feel in this country, what immigrants feel, what Muslims feel, what LGBTQA+ individuals feel, what any marginalized group is feeling right now. The election of a president should not instill this kind of terror into its people.
I am not sure how Donald Trump will be as president, and I can already hear people telling me not to judge him before he gets into office. And, sure, let’s entertain the idea that he gets into office and is successful. That doesn’t matter. He ran a campaign based on hate, and he won. That matters. The fact that someone can run for president supported by racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic platforms and win is deeply depressing. The fact that the American populace has decided that a man who has bragged about sexual assault was a better choice than the first female president is something I will not forget.
So, to any Trump supporters reading this (or perhaps to those few Bernie-or-busters who logged a protest vote and now have to live with this) (and to those 15,000 people who voted for Harambe as if the lives of millions are a joke), I want you to look around you. You might see what I’ve seen today: people crying in public, people hugging their friends tight, people not sure how to keep going after this. Think about that. Think about how millions of parents woke their children up this morning unsure how to explain to them how deeply their country has failed them. Think about the women in your lives, the people of color in your lives, the Muslim people and the LGBTQA+ people and any minority person in your lives, and think about how you just told them that their lives do not matter.
To those hurting out there, to those who see a country that doesn’t love them, to those who are scared for the future: I love you. This is not over. I will fight with you and for you and I will protect you. I stand with you in solidarity forever, and I will not let these bigots tell you that you do not belong here. You do belong here. We all belong here.
Finally, a bright spot within all of this darkness. Throughout last night and into today, as we came to terms with what has happened, with how our country has failed, I saw an outpouring of love and solidarity and support from across my social networks. People who I have not spoken to in a while were sending me messages of love, were posting statuses and tweets about how they will keep fighting, were showing their solidarity with marginalized groups. And that gave me hope that this isn’t the end. There will always be people who love and support me, even if it seems as though my country doesn’t.
Dear America, you have disappointed me so much. But I will never stop fighting to keep you going in the right direction. You may not want me, but I’m not going anywhere.
P.S. The midterm elections will be held on November 6, 2018. Set a note on your calendar. Don’t let this happen again.