POST-ELECTION BLUES

Gut-punched, gobsmacked, flabbergasted, speechless.    voting-booth1

I have struggled for days to process the American presidential election results, to somehow wrap my head around what has happened and process what I am feeling.   I have gone through the motions of daily life in a state of shock, my mind reeling.

It was beyond my belief to think this could happen!  A man who has repeatedly faced lawsuits for non-payment of bills, fraud, racial discrimination and allegations of statutory rape; who demonstrably has not cared about anyone but himself throughout his life; who lies repeatedly to create his own imaginary history, with a worldview unhampered by facts or reality; who has been caught on tape chuckling over sexual abuse — this is an acceptable candidate for the highest office in the land? Who would vote for such a man? How could he have won an election?

My great uncle was also a bigoted, loudmouth outsider who always said what he thought without regard to truth or others’ feelings, but no one ever suggested he was qualified to lead a nation!  Trump’s running for office seemed at first nothing more than a publicity stunt, a joke.  Except the further he got the less amusing it became.

My disbelief has settled like grains of grit in a water glass. As the realization of Trump’s win has sunk in, I feel discouraged and despondent. Does one’s character no longer matter at all?  Am I naïve to think we should choose leaders we can admire and hold up as the best and brightest representatives of our citizenry?  Is it naïve to think our president should embody the principles and values that our country supposedly holds dear?

Trump’s candidacy has legitimized prejudice against racial and ethnic groups, mockery of women, minorities and the disabled, and using one’s financial resources to get out of paying bills.  No, sorry, this man does not represent me.  I am repelled by him and absolutely stunned that he is now the president-elect!

I am also in mourning.

I have dear friends and relatives who support Trump.  This discovery was another shock.  These are perfectly wonderful people, several within my own faith community.  During the last few weeks of the campaign, I kept trying in conversations and on Facebook to make clear Trump’s record as a lying, cheating narcissist who has always been oblivious to or downright callous towards those over whom he had power.  During the Great Recession he shrugged off the suffering of the 98%, stating he had enjoyed the banking and housing market collapse because he’d made a lot of money from it.  Donald Trump’s life mantra as one of the privileged has clearly been, “Whatever is good for me is all that matters.”

I kept thinking these friends and family just needed to be informed.  Surely, I thought, they must not know of his business record of stiffing employees and subcontractors, and declaring bankruptcy six times due to poor business decisions.  They must be unaware of his reprehensible comments about women and minorities.  If only they were aware of how bigoted, sexist, racist and immoral he was, they would re-think their decision!

It was especially perplexing to me when it came to my Christian brothers and sisters.  Christ calls for love, acceptance and recognition of the worth of all people.  Hoarding wealth and taking advantage of others are not in alignment with the gospel’s call to love and serve, help and heal.  What happened to that Jesus, dear fellow Christian? I fear we have crucified Him again on the cross of our egos and willful blindness.  One of my first thoughts after the election results was, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

Sadly, some friends and relatives were not persuaded by knowledge of Trump’s actions or words.  This revelation caught me by surprise.  I love them but have I ever really known them?  I wondered.  Are they for Trump BECAUSE of his coded promises to elevate white power, and to stomp on the rights of women, gays, minorities and Muslims?  Is this the great America they want to return to?  The very thought stuns me.

To me, Trump is the epitome of everything Jesus stood against.  To supporters, he is a messiah.  I don’t know how we can meet in the middle on this.  I guess we can only agree to disagree — yet I find this realization painful.

I also grieve the loss of my adopted country.

I am in mourning for the loss of the USA as I knew it.  Growing up in Canada, I knew there was a difference between the philosophies of the two countries regarding social responsibility.  During those years at least, Canadians agreed the government had been instituted to care for its citizens, most notably in the provision of health care for all, but also in other social programs meant to help those who could not help themselves.  While at times both countries have taken actions with which I did not agree, I always had the sense that both were at least attempting to do the right thing for their populace.

Now I am dismayed and ashamed.  I feel my country of residence is disintegrating before my eyes. In a nation claiming to be founded on Christian values, we chose the most flagrantly un-Christ-like candidate in my lifetime.  In a country proclaiming religious freedom, we resent those of other faiths and are seemingly supportive of rounding them up.  We state, “All men are created equal,” while promoting racial profiling and aggressive stop-and-frisk policies, and legitimizing LGBTQ discrimination and sexual harassment.  When civil rights are being curtailed we can no longer claim to be the “land of the free.” Where did that country go?

Supporters of Trump, maybe you still don’t realize what just happened.

By your vote you have said you’re okay with racial, religious and sexual discrimination and even mistreatment — for that’s what Trump stands for.

You have said, Yes, let’s walk back our progress on global understanding and international agreements because we want a solid win — not this “hopey-changey” thing of peaceful compromise and ally-building.

You have said, Yes let’s disregard scientific evidence about environmental damage and global warming.  Let’s give tax cuts to the wealthy, even though these have NEVER improved the lot of the middle or lower classes.  You have bought the lies that your economic situation is the fault of migrant Mexicans and that your fear of terrorists is the fault of all Muslims in your city.  These are all Trump arguments.

Please understand, my angst has not been caused by the discomfort of being wrong or picking the losing side.  This wasn’t merely a contest that my team lost.  This was one small step for the Republican party, and one giant step backwards for America.   We all lost!

People are afraid.  Trump’s stated objectives and principles are terrifying if you’re black, if you’re Muslim, if you’re Mexican, if you’re a woman, if you’re LGBTQ.

Or if you love any of the above.

Many have fought so hard for a country of decency, for legal equality and respect for each other, and at least on the surface we have achieved some measure of each.  But sadly this election has revealed how far we yet have to go.

So please don’t tell me to just get over it, or that my hope is in God and so I should just accept that the next four years could bring irreparable harm to our country and my loved ones.

I trust I will eventually be able to take a deep breath again and move beyond these feelings of shock, betrayal, and horror, despite my shattered illusions and my concern for what lies ahead.  I pray my faith will allow me to arrive at a place of more constructive emotions, to regain a hopeful vision of the future and the strength to work towards it.

But give me time.

Right now I am dazed and disoriented with the numbness that comes from trauma.

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