It’s a new day, and while we’re all still living under a ceiling of grief and mourning and fear and disappointment, there’s also a sense of planning and resolve, of quiet organization. We’re like shaken up coke bottles with the lids still on.
Today, we’re fizzing with purpose.
I read an article in The Independent this morning called 12 Things That Already Happened within Hours of Donald Trump Being Elected President. The things they pointed to were all terrible. They were grim. They were evidence of bleak future. They were also true. And very clearly intended to communicate the gravity of things to come.
And I get that. I get the need for that. The need for the people of this country who voted for this to understand the weight of what they’ve done. Regardless of the reason, of what they thought they were proving with their vote, we will all have to answer for their mistake. And so will the world.
But there is already enough fear here. The Atlantic Ocean that separates you, political correspondent, from us, helps to dilute your fear with anger, contempt, and parental concern. And stoking the fires of fear, lowering that ceiling of anxiety over us even more, serves no real purpose. Protest and fires and outrage did occur in major cities; markets did tank; the KKK did celebrate.
But ya know, these things also happened. In my tiny little not-written-about corner of the world, and similarly in other places, to people who may never be known to the news:
- Marginalized people in this country reached out to each other and connected in Facebook groups, in coffee shops near my house, in parks, in bars, in grocery stores. To talk. To share. They asked where their time and money could best be served and spent.
- Most of us didn’t riot. We sat quietly supporting our friends and family, some of us talking about how we should begin explaining some of these things to our children.
- Women asked me if I knew of any organizations, non-profits, that needed volunteers so they could lend their time. People immediately began to fortify those areas, groups, organizations that were under highest threat from a Trump presidency. They did it quickly, and with hearts more full of love than anger.
- My coworkers stopped giving a shit about whether it was against policy to talk about politics, and we cried together. Had lunch together. Walked together. Made tea for each other.
- Obama rallied for women by introducing a new plan to permanently protect funding for Planned Parenthood, against the backdrop of an impending war on women’s bodies by the House and Senate.
- The ALCU promised that if Trump attempts to implement his proposed policies, they would see him in court.
- The world as we know it did not collapse. A war did not begin. It may well do, but it hasn’t yet. And that’s worth noting.
These things may not save stocks or prevent Russia from celebrating the most reckless political decision our country has made in both my and my mother’s, and maybe my grandmother’s lifetime. And it’s important, critical even, to make sure people are presented with the reality of what’s happening as a result of this election.
But part of the reason that this happened at all (and the reasons are many), is that the people who did it were people who don’t read the Independent. People who hinged themselves to a Trump narrative are not combing through facts in the New York Times, or the Guardian, or anywhere.
You’re feeding fear to the rest of us. To the people who tried to prevent it to begin with. Who are already scared.
And I just don’t have it in me anymore to keep gobbling up fear rhetoric. I understand a journalist’s work. I do a journalist’s work. My career is media and communications. But I saw Tuesday night what fear and anger do to people. I saw it yesterday. They are not currency. They are limiting. They are reductive. And it is irresponsible to serve up information or articles or 20-second voice-over spots without also providing people a larger context in which to consume it. That is also a journalist’s work, perhaps the most important part. Some things require a grain of salt, this requires the whole lick.
All day yesterday, I kept having these moments where I would disassociate with what was going on, with what had actually happened. My mind would change the narrative, and tell me that I was an outsider looking in. That I was watching something on TV. That this was horrible and awful, but ultimately happening to someone else, somewhere else.
It’s not though.
It’s here. And it’s happening to us.
But I spoke to a friend this morning who’s planning to propose to her girlfriend in December. She asked a group of us our opinion about whether the engagement trip should be a surprise or not. Her face glowed. She was smiling all the way to her ears.
And I’m sorry, but Trump doesn’t get to have that. He doesn’t get to take that from her, or me, or anyone. His House, his Senate, his America are irrelevant here, in our conversations. On the ground level of our love.
And today I realize that if we’re going to combat this reality, if we’re going to win, it’s going to be down here in the trenches. Drinking our coffee. Going to work. And fighting like hell.