ALL the Feelings, Revisited

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's now been two weeks since the white people in this country elected Trump to the highest office in the land, and I'm starting to get a handle on my feelings. The vitriol is slowly fading. I no longer want to punch Trump supporters in the head (at least not all of them). And I have a better handle on why this election outcome has affected me so negatively.

For me, the bottom line is this. The main reason I am still so personally upset by this election has to do with my understanding of what America is, and the progress we've made toward our ideals.

In my pre-election world, America was a place where character mattered. It was a place where "most" people could understand why a bully, a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, an incompetent, a white nationalist, is simply not the best choice to lead our nation. After President Obama was elected, I thought that while racism was still very much a problem in this country, we had turned a corner in our cultural history. I thought that Trump's honesty in telling America who he was by word and deed was sufficient to deny him the highest office in the land. I thought I lived in a world where America honored their veterans, regardless of race, religion, or the national origin of their families.

The reason I'm so upset is because I was so very, very wrong.

We do not live in that America. We do not live in a country where the self-admitted character flaws of an unqualified candidate is sufficient to keep him out of office. We do not live in an America where the majority would dismiss a white nationalist out of hand because we valued our fellow citizens and neighbors, even though they're not the same color as us, or don't worship like us, or don't talk like us. We do not live in a country who values courage in the face of adversity. We've proven by our actions that we do not value compassion, service, egalitarianism, and competence.

No, we don't live in that America, if we ever did.*

We live in a country where the ethnic majority elected someone who is, without question, a bully, a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, an incompetent, and a white nationalist as the leader we want to represent us to the world.

I just cannot wrap my head around this. How is this okay? Do the majority of white people really think this is the best we have to offer to the world, to ourselves? Does this truly represent the way most white people think about our country? Do they believe these are the values that most closely align with who we are and who we want to be?

This is the reason I'm so upset, so heartbroken, so angry about our election result. Because I thought I lived in one America, and it turns out I don't. I live in an America who has forsaken our ideals. I live in an America who has disrespected my service by betraying our national character. And that makes me sadder than I can say.

________
*I know every single person of color who is reading this is thinking, "No shit, you privileged, oblivious white girl." And they are so, so right. In spite of my efforts, I'm still very much a product of my environment, with much to learn about the experiences of my countrymen and women who are not like me. A work in progress, y'all.

9 comments:

Laura Kinkade said...

Janiece, I live in a agricultural area, with a heavy non-white population. While it was mostly whites that voted for him, it wasn't just whites. I think that's what has me confused. What appeal does he have to people he has pledged to harm?

MAW said...

just to say -- *solidarity, sister* on all your feelings

Janiece said...

Laura, it wasn't only whites, it's true. But he took a significantly higher percentage of white voters compared to Hillary (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/)

And I don't get that, either. The African Americans of my acquaintance consider black people voted for Trump to be skirting the line of "race traitor," and I can't blame them for feeling that way.

Anne C. said...

This captures my grief as well. I'd like to say my bubble popped, but I'm guessing that is more privilege speaking.
Still processing, really.

Random Michelle K said...

Sadly, I *can* understand how this happened, and that makes me even more depressed.

Hillary said she was going to put a lot of miners out of work (very close to a direct quote). Right there, she lost WV and WY and all the other extractive industry states.

Trump promised to "bring back" these jobs.

It doesn't *matter* that it is impossible to bring back coal jobs and steel jobs. It doesn't matter that That Man outsources his manufacturing jobs.

What matters is that one candidate was indifferent to the fears and needs of these people, and one candidate at least pretended like he saw their fears and needs.

People here didn't hear the bigotry and hatred, what they heard was that someone was listening to them.

If you look at our primary results, Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly beat Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that the primary had pretty much been decided at that point. (BERNIE SANDERS 124,700 51.41%; HILLARY CLINTON 86,914 35.84% from WV SOS page.)

IMO, the Democratic party is as much responsible as anything. I *like* Hillary, but I've been saying for two decades that she wasn't electable. There were too many people who despised her. Who would rather drink poison than vote for her. And yet the Democratic party (supposedly) got behind her without truly letting other candidates have a chance.

That, it seems to me, is what happened. The Democratic party, as much as the Republican party, has become deaf and blind to its core constituents (hello! Labor state here!) and gets behind who the heads of the party want, rather than who the party *needs* and the people that form its base want.

Let me be clear, I despise That Man. And I don't think that Bernie Sanders was anywhere near as qualified as Hillary. But Bernie Sanders was *listening* to people. And That Man was able to take that populist message and twist it to his own needs, telling people who were searching for an alternative what they wanted to hear (even if they know, deep down, he can't do anything he promised).

Sorry if I've run on. I've done a lot of thinking about this. Which is probably why I'm so damned depressed.

Janiece said...

"I'd like to say my bubble popped, but I'm guessing that is more privilege speaking."

Exactly so, Anne. After all, this is the country who bought and sold people as property. This is the country and interned millions of people based on their ethnicity. This is the country that thinks oil is more valuable than the lives of people. The country hasn't changed. But my perception of it has.

Michelle, I know that you're right, at least in terms of the blue collar workers who have watched their peers lose their jobs, who have lost their buying power in the marketplace, who see that big business cares not one wit about their lives and their troubles, and then equates "big business" with "Hillary." The cognitive dissonance is very obvious when you look at rural communities in Kentucky whose health insurance depends entirely on a government subsidy, but still voted for Trump because they thought he would reinvigorate their relevance to the American experience.

I'm still trying to pick myself up to "fight another day." I'll get there.

Charles said...

Janiece,
I love to read your posts. You are one of the most inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with. I look at it this way, we do live in the America you speak of, the kind and caring one. We just haven't gotten all the weeds out of the garden. This election shows us that in this place and time there are still many more barriers that must be torn down. Our fight is still strong and those of us who won't let inequality be tolerated will continue to stand our ground. In a way we can be glad that we now are clear on where progression really is in our country. Dust off the boots and keep working at it. That's what we will do. :)

Janiece said...

Thanks, Charles. I'll get through it and return to my regularly scheduled "full of piss and vinegar" Janiece at some point. I just need to get over my disappointment and try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Even those who haven't really earned it.

(This IS Charles L, yes?)

The Mechanicky Gal said...

This is MY SISTER, EVERYONE!
I, too, thought we had come a lot farther, and to discover that we are a lot worse off than I can imagine - it's been very hard to accept.
I like Charles analogy of the garden. There can be so many weeds that it appears to be all weeds, but when caring people get to work, true flowers are growing and thriving.
Thank you, Charles, for that hope.