I have been pretty quiet about the election lately. Part of that is because I just plain ran out of coping power and had to turn away from this election for a while to share my sanity. But part of my silence is the reason why I had to stop looking – because the things this election has uncovered about this country disgust me.
I should be celebrating tonight. I should be feeling genuine joy if, as I suspect, Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman to become president. And I’ll have things to say about that in time. I celebrated wildly when Obama was elected the first time – I was crowded in a bar with strangers watching the results, and was first in the place to learn that the press had just called the race for him. The place when silent for a moment when I shrieked “THEY CALLED IT!” and then erupted in screams and cheers and shouts. Five strangers hugged me. The bartender put disco music on the stereo, and a gang of us ran out onto the street where the party was going on outside too. My favorite sight was seeing two women who had each brought out huge American flags and were doing a spontaneous majorette routine in the middle of Myrtle Avenue while I was inside dancing to Earth, Wind and Fire at 12:30 am.
And there will be celebrating tonight too, as well there should be. But I will not be out on the street – at least, not without an ear cocked just in case. Because this election has uncovered, nurtured, and encouraged the ugliness in the hearts of the people who weren’t celebrating that night.
The thing that gave me the most hope about Obama’s acceptance speech that night was his commitment to working with his opponent’s supporters. “…to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.” And instead of listening, a lot of people went against him every single blessed step of the way.
And so when Trump offered himself as an option for president, they flocked to him – he validated their particular brand of crazy. And with that validation came courage and a total lack of shame. And threats. And violence at campaign events. And threatening t-shirts and booby-traps and anti-Semitism.
The Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign are both having their election night events here in New York City. If Trump loses, these are not people I expect to go quietly. If Trump wins, even, these are not people I expect to celebrate calmly. I am well and truly worried about what is going to happen in this city once the results are called.
Which is keeping me from celebrating Hillary tonight. She could be president, but some of the citizens are hell-bent against that – and they’re going to make sure we all know it.