I'm sure none of you will be surprised by this, but I'm not a Trump supporter. Still, I have hope.
I heard the results of the election at around 4:30 AM EST. I fell back asleep and I woke up again at 7:00 AM to start the day and checked my phone to make sure I hadn't dreamed the results. That's not hyperbole, either. I wasn't sure if I had fabricated something in my mind from the fragments of stress, doubt, and fear that had been sitting in my gut the night before.
Once I confirmed our President Elect, I stayed in bed. I was in Boston for a conference and I could hear my coworkers talking in the next room. I wasn't ready to jump into that yet. I couldn't believe that this was happening, though I wasn't surprised that it had. I think I always knew deep down that it would.
I wasn't willing to talk about the election. It wasn't going to change anything. Best case scenario, it wouldn't affect me. Worst case, I'd have a stomach ache for the rest of the day....or year...or 4 years.
So many groups have been polarized by the democratic decision that we, collectively as a country, made on November 8th, 2016. As a woman, a first-generation American, a Muslim, the sister of an officer in the U.S. Navy, a human being, etc. - trust me. I would know.
But, I don't know what will actually happen under Donald Trump's presidency. None of us do. All we've been hearing for the last year are all the things he'd like to do as president - and all of the things he thinks are terrible, horrible, the worst, whatever. He never said how he was going to "fix" anything - just that he was going to and it was going to be amazing, great, big league, huuuuuge.
I had a theory, which I think a lot of other Americans had, that Trump didn't believe half of the things he was saying in the press and on Twitter. So much of it seemed incongruent with his own lifestyle, but he knew what to say - or not say - to keep his constituents happy and loyal. Even if that meant he had to (hopefully) feign allegiance with the KKK, he had a goal he had to meet.
But as the election went on, he kept saying - or not saying - things. He kept this up for so long that he started saying things that were, in my opinion, unforgivable. The "grab her by the..." scandal-that-wasn't-a-scandal blew over so quickly, it's embarrassing. What distinguished this from most of his other remarks is that this comment came from footage from before he was ever running for president.
That was just him. Not playing the media. Not pandering. Not being inflammatory for attention. Just him.
So, where does this leave us? We're a nation divided. There have been incessant protests and hate crimes since the election. People are signing petitions, probably in vain, to get members of the electoral college to vote for Clinton in December.
But he's our president. We (kind of) chose him.
Since this is the second time in recent history that a presidential candidate won the popular vote but not the electoral vote, it's probably time to re-examine that whole process. Hamilton, you've always been my favorite founding father, but I'm not sure that your system is working the way you wanted it to. Personally, I blame the lobbyists.
Still, if that ever happens, it won't affect this election. And it shouldn't. We have rules in place that govern this country and we have to respect them. We can't cry when they don't work in our favor, because what's the alternative? Everything we do in this nation sets a precedent, and setting one that disregards established governing laws is scarier than a Trump presidency.
My age dictates that I'm a millennial. We've taken a lot of heat in the past week for allegedly not voting, for being sore losers, and for not knowing enough about the world to justify being upset over the election results. Let's overlook, for the sake of this discussion, how insulting and dismissive that is to a huge group of Americans, although that seems to be the trend lately. I've heard people mock us for not getting a participation trophy (which for the record, wasn't a thing when I was growing up and wouldn't even be relevant in this situation). People have been telling us we need to be educated, because we "clearly" aren't. I've also heard, "Let's see how you feel when you actually get a job," which is meant to imply that we're a bunch of lazy freeloaders.
Really, we're a highly-educated group, and yet a large portion of us are either unemployed or underpaid. In many ways, the existing system has spat on us, while the older generations are largely oblivious to the struggles we face.
I'm not complaining, though. Sure, there's a way to make the most out of a hand you've been dealt, and I think many of us do. But the big difference between the millennials and the older generations is not our lack of understanding or our misplaced and naïve empathy.
It has to do with acceptance.
We're willing to accept less because we don't have to. Yes, we still have to fight for what we believe in and we understand that results doesn't happen overnight, but our barriers to entry are far lower when it comes to taking a stand, building a platform, obtaining resources, and enacting change.
Going forward, we have to learn from our mistakes, listen to one another, and compromise. And if there's a better way to do something, we don't have to settle for the lesser option.
So what will we do with this power we've been given?