I never expected this to happen. I never thought it COULD happen. And yet on November 8, 2016, my world imploded. Instead of my lifelong dream of seeing the first female president, and my dream since I was 11 of having President Hillary Clinton, I watched helplessly as a man who represented everything I hated, feared, and loathed because president of the United States of America. It has been almost a year and a half since that fateful night, and I am no closer to comprehending it now than I was then. I have not yet truly mourned what has been lost, because I have not yet been able to integrate this external reality into my personal truth.
History had a path to follow. Hillary was supposed to win. She would give her victory speech in a white pantsuit, and Bill would beam with pride. She would appoint Merrick Garland or someone equally qualified and intelligent to the Supreme Court. Tim Kaine would be a less inappropriate version of Joe Biden. Foreign relations would flourish under Hillary’s experienced hand. Common-sense gun control laws, universal healthcare, student loan relief, strong climate action, equal rights and equal pay for all, paid family leave, poverty, sexual harassment, and racial justice would all be subjects of debate in Congress. We would still have the Blue Wave and flood of new women candidates, but driven by hope, not fear.
But… that’s not what happened. Fear fueled by ignorance turned into hate, and a man who did not even want to win, despite running a brutal campaign, is now the so-called leader of the free world. I cannot comprehend how it is possible that such an atrocious man is our president – and yet I also cannot fathom how the situation could be improved, because impeachment would give us President Pence; even if both were impeached, we would have President Ryan; and I do not believe either would be an improvement, for despite their more stable temperaments, they have the same goals as Trump, and they have far more political cunning with which to achieve them.
I used to read the news every day, scrolling through headlines and diving into commentary, reports, and analyses. The further into the Trump presidency we get, the less I am able to stomach; these days I barely open Facebook or Twitter for fear of what I will see. Knowledge is the key to resistance, but what can I do? My senators have been among the leaders of the resistance to Trump, and I have too much anxiety to make daily (or even monthly!) phone calls. I can’t travel, protests have thus far been entirely ineffective, and I don’t have money or energy to donate to a campaign. I am disabled in ways that render me powerless. All I have is my writing and my teaching.
Meanwhile, people I know are being targeted for deportation, victimized by racial profiling, terrorized for going to school, sexually harassed at work, and forced to delay or forfeit school, parenthood, travel, moving, and job changes. I am queer, female, disabled, and Jewish; attacks on these identities are on the rise. I am white, college-educated, and from a middle-class family; the privileges afforded to me by these aspects of my life are hard to perceive from within, yet ensure that I am not targeted by racism (anti-Semitism is another story) or left without a roof over my head and food in my belly.
How do we improve the lives of ourselves, our families and friends and neighbors? Will we all perish in nuclear warfare? Can we foster empathy and compassion in a society that is fueled by fear and hate? Is there hope for a better tomorrow?
What can I do?