This morning, more than half the country is celebrating Donald Trump's victory. The rest of us are bewildered, incredulous, anxious.
I have had this feeling before. On September 12, 2001. On that day, I could not fathom what had happened the day before. I had grown up on Long Island and had watched the Twin Towers being built. They were soaring, strong, stable fixtures of the skyline. How could they be gone? I knew it had happened -- I witnessed their destruction on live TV. On September 12, I had had a night to process the nightmare of the previous day. Still, I could not wrap my brain around the concept that those buildings were gone. In spite of irrefutable evidence, something was barring me from accepting the truth.
This morning feels the same. I watched the election results. I witnessed county after county, state after state, voting for Donald Trump. And now, this morning, I cannot fathom a "President Trump." I cannot imagine the America that he will lead.
This is an extreme analogy. The Twin Towers fell because of a terrorist attack. Thousands of people died in an instant. Yesterday was a peaceful election, people going to the polls and exercising their right to choose their next leader. But my feelings are the same as on the morning of September 12, 2001, because something else has fallen and is no more. My belief in a towering, firm, durable America is gone. We will endure the resultant toxic dust cloud for years to come.
More than half of the country voted for Donald Trump. This makes me feel unsafe. As unsafe as I felt on September 12, 2001. I am a gay man living in a country that has elected an unapologetic bigot as president. What does that mean for my future? With the addition of a Republican-run Senate and House, what havoc will be wrought on my civil rights? When the Supreme Court gets filled with like-minded justices, will my marriage be overturned?
And what about my friends? Those that are Mexican? Muslim? Women? Jewish? African-American? Are we going to see human rights violations on a grand scale?
On September 11th, thousands of people died. Now that the Affordable Care Act will surely be overturned leaving millions uninsured, will we witness the deaths of thousands or millions because people do not have access to health care?
What about climate change? Are we ruining the lives of future generations?
My mind is full of these worst-case scenarios because I have been reading warnings for weeks. Donald Trump is a cancer on democracy, we have been told. Donald Trump will shake the foundations of American government. Donald Trump will bring about the end of the great American "experiment."
Comparisons to Nazi Germany have been seriously discussed. I have absorbed the lessons of the Holocaust and have vowed to "never forget." Apparently, most of the country did not learn those lessons or are willingly ignoring them.
I am struggling this morning with the knowledge that most Americans want this kind of America. I cannot explain it. Are they that full of hate? Or is it ignorance? Or have they been duped in a staggeringly effective way? Is this Nazi Germany all over again?
Or has my trust in America been so shaken that I have forgotten that our system of checks-and-balances will insure our safety and our future?
I scoffed at Donald Trump when he stated that he might not accept the election results if he lost. One of our American core values involves the peaceful transition of power. I am not a hypocrite. Now that he has won, I must accept the election result as the will of the people.
There have been numerous news stories that Democrats could finally exhale once the election was over. But despite my desire to treat this like any other election, I am finding it hard to breathe this morning. And that's not a metaphor -- my anxiety is kicking in and that alters my breathing patterns. I am scared. My friends are in full panic mode.
If any Trump supporters are reading this: please do not gloat today. Please understand that some of your fellow Americans are feeling genuine unease or distress. We want America to be great, too. But we are skeptical this morning. Our trust in America is eroded. Give us some time to re-build.