My Liberal Hangover

polls“You should’ve been at the election night party. People were going CRAZY. Alice and Lindsay even started crying. Now, I’m not happy that Trump was elected or anything, but crying? That’s so over the top.”

My buddy probably assumed I’d agree with him, since I’m usually more about logical, rational discussions than a bunch of melodrama.

Except this time I understood, because I was crying on election night too.

Just a day earlier, you see, I’d taken my four-year-old daughter with me to go vote for the first American female president. And she was going to win in a landslide, according to all the polls and media pundits.

It was really going to happen. How could it not?

Hillary may not have been everyone’s first choice (Elizabeth Warren would’ve been preferable), but at least she was highly qualified and running against the least-qualified candidate in election history.

Trump had run around constantly insulting everyone: black people, Mexicans, women, the LGBT community, war heroes, handicapped people, Muslim Gold Star parents… he was championed by the KKK.

Key members of his own party were denouncing him. Paul Ryan, John McCain, all the Bushes… he even went too far for Glenn Beck, who’s got to be the Right’s version of Michael Moore.

With the deck so stacked in her favor, Hillary just had to win.

And it was about time. Unlike in Germany, Argentina, Great Britain, Denmark, and so many other places, America has never, ever put a woman in charge.  We don’t even have a history of powerful queens to look back on.

My daughter Brontë was too young to fully understand everything going on, but she did grasp the idea that we were all voting for the boss of the country and that for the first time in our nation’s history, it could be a girl.

Brontë squeezed my hand and told me she loved me just before we marked our vote. She understood something important was happening, wanting desperately to feed our ballot into the machine, so I helped.

We were making history. My daughters would grow up already having a female president. They’d truly believe anything was possible, if only they worked hard enough.

Except that’s not what happened.

Instead, I stayed up alone on election night, watching another incredibly accomplished woman slowly lose to a volatile, inexperienced man. I couldn’t believe it. All the polls were wrong.

WRONG. Just like Trump kept telling us.

And I couldn’t help sobbing.

My daughter ran up to me the next morning, asking “did she win?” before reading my face then looking down at the floor.

“Maybe we can vote again tomorrow?” she asked. “Can she try three times?”

Argh…

Now that I’ve gotten all this grief out of my system, I’m hoping to figure out where we went wrong and what we can do to change it.

Most of my liberal friends are either collapsed into utter hopelessness or full of rage, preparing for the apocalypse. They’re saying the curtain’s been drawn back on America’s true feelings to reveal all the sexist, racist, homophobic hostility that’s been bubbling under the surface all along.

I don’t know. I think that kind of rhetoric was partly responsible for what just happened. The Republicans mopped the floor with us. They got everything: the House, the Senate, the Oval Office, and before long, the Supreme Court too.

I think it’s time to rethink our strategy.

Maybe Hillary’s loss was about sexism, or maybe it was about a huge group of overlooked voters lobbing a Molotov cocktail into the White House in the form of Donald Trump. The same group we’ve been ignoring and/or insulting for many years.

I don’t think we can afford to keep on doing that. Many Americans are struggling to feed their families as the economy keeps shutting down opportunities along with countless manufacturing jobs. Arguing with them about white privilege is never, ever going to work.

Besides, I have many conservative friends whom I respect very much. There are good people on both sides of the aisle, each having their own set of priorities and rationalizations… both sides seem locked into their respective echo chambers, listening to different radio stations, watching different news, and posting different memes all over Facebook.

Maybe a Sanders/Warren ticket was the answer. I don’t know.

All I know is that telling struggling people we won’t be helping them until we’ve sorted out the world’s intolerance only makes things worse, no matter how morally decent it makes us feel. Because there is no clear solution or endpoint.

What would “recognizing” our role in inequality even mean? It’s abstract and somewhat subjective. We can’t legislate subconscious feelings. There is no vague “recognition” of bias that would automatically translate into a fairer world, anyway.

We’re better off setting clear policy goals. We need to focus on the economy, figuring out constructive ways to make lives better instead of just telling everyone how wrong they are all the time.

 

And honestly, I think we’re also better off without all the political correctness. Those rules obviously didn’t prevent people from secretly thinking whatever they thought, but it did make it harder to subject views to hard scrutiny.

I’m hoping more liberals will start asking themselves hard questions, so we can improve our chances in 2020.

I’m also hoping Trump was strategically tapping into a frustrated base of voters during his campaign and isn’t actually as volatile as he seemed.

I guess we’ll all about to find out.

19 Comments

  1. I know exactly how you feel. I ended up getting two hours of sleep that night, because I couldn’t fall asleep, I was so worried.

    We’ll keep the pressure on the administration that regardless who voted and who they voted for, all Americans deserve good governance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here! I watched the results, then the acceptance speech, then reactions… just couldn’t settle down after the shock.

      We should rally, to be sure. It’s all so confusing. Feels like the rules were all upended and no one knows what’s going to happen…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aw, sweet Bronte. I wish this could be a “best 2 out of 3 situation.” Like so many, I was baffled by the people (some of whom in my family) who voted for Trump. I’ve been avoiding those family members (and FB in general), because I just can’t deal with the conversations yet. But I still want to understand what happened. So I’ve actually been reading blogs & opinions by people who voted for him, and a common theme seems to be that it was a huge middle finger to liberals. We market ourselves as the united, big-hearted group, but anyone who disagrees with us is immediately seen as wrong, hateful, or stupid. We care deeply about oppresses populations, but we didn’t care about them. I feel both guilty and irritated by that mentality at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, me too…

      I was hoping she’d someday vaguely remember the moment she and her mama voted for the first female president, but it wasn’t to be.

      Some of the fb conversations have been rough. I’m hoping things will settle down in time.

      I have contrary feelings about the mentality as well. There’s a bit of not wanting to be tolerant of intolerance mixed with the realization that we’ve obviously been out of touch.

      I don’t want us to be out of touch anymore, because I want us to come back from this. The Democrats used to be the party of the working people and somehow it’s now seen as the smug elite, the very rich and the very poor.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, America…. You’ve seen our Brexit and raised us Trump. I’m still trying to figure out how your electoral college system works (please don’t feel any obligation to try and explain!) but the protests, the families divided, the incidents of race hate we’re hearing about all seem depressingly similar to what we went through here in summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Brexit comparison is being made here as well. Usually along these lines…

      BRITAIN: Brexit was the stupidest, most self-destructive act a country could undertake.

      USA: Hold my drink

      The electoral college pulled this maneuver in 2000 too, giving GW Bush the presidency despite Al Gore getting the popular vote. Not sure how the math keeps hurting the Democrats.

      I suppose we’ll be watching Britain for clues about how this will all play out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ‘Hold my drink’… made me laugh quite a lot. Not sure you’ll find our example a great source of comfort at the moment… opposition party falling apart, government without a real mandate making scary pronouncements about registering foreign workers. Interestingly the EU have suggested offering associate membership to citizens of former member states who still want to belong. I’m quite tempted. It’s either that or seeing if we qualify for an Irish passport.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes, at least there’s some funny memes going around. Many involve Joe Biden trying to set up pranks before Trump gets to the White House.

          Not looking good so far. There’s talk of a Muslin registry.

          That’s interesting about the EU associate membership… I wonder how that would work for you guys. Maybe England can offer us an associate colony membership. 😀

          Like

  4. I went to bed on election night confident Hillary would be the next president when I woke. My husband told me “Trump won” first thing. I literally did not believe him. I must have said “you’re joking with me” ten times before I had to look it up myself. I was devastated.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Argh, so surreal! I’m not sure whether it would be worse to get the news like you did, a sucker-punch all at once, or watch the nightmare slowly unfold over the night, like I did.

      Those of us watching kept doing the math for hours… Hmm, she can still win if she gets Florida, it’s too close to call… argh, well she could still win if she gets Michigan… What’s the tally??

      At some point, it was hitting us that he had it. Facebook was crazy that night.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh man 😦 I don’t know what it means to have Trump be my president, but I can understand your anguish. A few of my friends and I were following the election live, checking live feeds and stuff cos it’s such a crazy one. With his recent appointments of former goldman sacchs execs, ultra-racist steve bannon, and someone who doesn’t believe in climate change as head of EPA etc etc…Trump is beyond redemption. I agree with you, the scary part is that he wasn’t just being shrewd by tapping into the base of his support groups, he actually believed in those same ideals.

    Going off track a little, I just hope the Dems find their way back from here. This whole resentment against gridlock and the lameduck president partly cost them this election and it’s a shame. If only Democrats hadn’t been complacent when Republicans invested heavily to take control of state assembly’s during the 2010 house elections, they wouldn’t have lost the house 😦 Reps just swallowed most of the assembly’s and gerrymandered the maps based on Obama’s voter base census as a facade to divide based on race (because dividing on race explicitly is illegal). This one was just downright uncouth, but hey, it got Reps the house so they could block Obama,then blame him for not passing anything! And people think it’s because he really couldn’t 😦 Slimy. It’s disheartening to see politicians who work for themselves rather than for the people. We’re not any better honestly,it’s a false democracy here. You couldn’t get away with insulting a minister, so that’s our kind of oppression 😛

    Sorry for the rambling, there’s just a lot I wanted to say. I hope you’re feeling better now 🙂 And don’t ever let Trump’s election put your girls down. Dream big :)))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whew, it’s pretty crazy here! Not a good time for liberals. We’re all trying to figure out *how* that happened and I feel like a division may be forming between Democrats who want to push the message ever harder and those who want to develop better, more practical strategies.

      Hillary wasn’t an ideal candidate, but I really thought she’d win against Trump. He’s such an extremist and his cabinet picks are almost wacky. We’re all wondering what’s going to happen next.

      And yes, seeing Obama get blocked left for 8 years was incredibly frustrating. Hard to believe that flies in government. I’m even to the left of him, so I was originally a Bernie Sanders supporter, but he was locked out. Many people are debating whether or not he would have won.

      I’m personally in the practical camp… I think the Republicans are better strategists. Dems want to keep the message “pure” and there’s a lot of infighting, whereas the Republicans know how to talk to people, how to reframe the arguments and create memorable buzzwords. Like, we’re the only country besides Papua new Guinea without any mandated paid maternity leave, but benefits keep getting called “entitlements” and ultra-rich CEO’s become “job creators” until the public is convinced that demanding the same benefits as the rest of the developed world is selfish and lazy.

      Trump knew how to speak to angry middle America.

      I think the liberal message needs to change. I’m also frustrated by the racism, sexism, classism, etc, but our language is divisive. It’s turned into tribalism: white vs black, men vs women, Christians vs. ivory tower academics.

      I think we need more unifying messages and to figure out strategies that work. Rebranding. We’ve been bringing water pistols to the gunfight. 🙂

      Yeah, I’ve calmed down some though. The shock has more or less worn off. Hoping things will turn around in time, but what can you do?

      You can’t insult a minister over there? Whoa… yeah, that’s a different kind of oppression. We have Saturday Night Live skits making fun of our politicians ever week 🙂

      I hope you’re doing well too and I see that you’ve been going on all kinds of awesome trips. I need to catch up with your adventures 🙂

      Like

    1. After the Bush/Gore popular vote fiasco, I can’t help noticing how much the electoral voting system disproportionately smacks the left. It’s funny, because it’s usually conservatives who favor straightforward reasoning and 1 person= 1 vote seems awfully straightforward to me.

      It will be an interesting 4 years, I guess…

      Liked by 1 person

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