Election Day: You Do the Math

Damn it.  Just damn it.

Mainstream and social media are filled with post mortems today.  I cannot deal well with them today; I’m having trouble being a careful critical thinker today.  And so today’s post is a rant.  Maybe I’ll write something more measured and mature next week.

Here are a few reasons why I’ve had to close all browsers for now:

1)  45 men have been elected president of the United States in 57 elections over the past 228 years.  Only one of them was black.  None of them had or have a vagina, as far as I know.

2)  Pennsylvania went freaking red.

3)  We never elected Shirley Chisholm or Barbara Jordan or Geraldine Ferraro or Hillary Clinton to the big office.

4)  It seems that, at just the moment the nation decides it’s sick of the establishment, we have an extremely qualified woman from the establishment.  We wouldn’t have gotten a woman this far from anywhere else, not at this point in our history.  A woman candidate would have to come from the establishment, and that’s when we decided that the establishment was out.  This is not an accident.

5)  The Sanders supporters need to wait even just one more day to remind us that we could have had Bernie.  It tells some of us that there was always a white man available to come to the rescue, and why weren’t we astute enough to just pick the person with the penis, knowing, after all, that that’s what it would take?

6)  We know and have seen time and again that there are great financial and social benefits to being racist and sexist.  Racism and sexism also influence people of color and women—they are equal opportunity structures of oppression, so to speak.  So, yes, many white women voted for Trump and many Cuban-Americans did as well.  This is such a complicated issue on so many fronts.

7) For those holier-than-thou GOP’ers who repudiated Trump but then did nothing to avoid his rise, just shut the hell up.

8) As many people have said on Fb, it’s hard to figure out how to sow peace with and feel love for those who voted for a man who hates people not from the United States, appreciates his fans who call for violent action against people of color, seems not very Christian but hates everyone who isn’t Christian, and believes that women should be in the Playboy mansion, a beauty pageant, or the home.  It’s hard for me to absorb that these individuals must, they just must, think less of me because I’m a woman.  This election cements my status.  It reminds my daughter and son, who worked so hard to read about the issues and to develop support for a candidate, of theirs.

9) Words I have read today include:  devastated, empty, numb, mute, sad, frustrated, angry, fearful, terrified, beaten down.  I have also heard that the c-word and the n-word were used at Trump rallies yesterday to threaten the Democratic nominee and our current president.

These are a few good reasons to hide, if only for today.

I picked up my daughter’s friend this morning to take her to school.  Her face was splotchy red.  She was undone.  But when I saw her walk into school with my daughter, I noticed she was wearing her “gender equality now” t-shirt.  Resilience is wonderful, especially among this younger generation who will surely know how to help us effect real change.  I just haven’t gotten to resilience and good will, not yet.

Before the Democratic National Convention this past summer, my family watched Barbara Jordan’s incredible speech at the 1976 Convention.  Just now I reread Shirley Chisholm’s 1969 “Equal Rights for Women” speech.  I highly recommend these texts and wish they weren’t still so timely.

Like so many other people across the United States yesterday, I touched an electronic screen to cast a ballot, my digits meeting the names of Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine on a colorful screen, my daughter at my side.  I was filled with excitement and awe, and, I think, so was my daughter.  (My son, tall enough to look of voting age but too young to vote, was for some reason not allowed at the voting booth with us.  He was sent outside the polling place.  We were told of some random rule about minors between the ages of 15 and 17 not being allowed there.)

I voted at 6:00 a.m., when there are usually no lines and just a sleepy sense of excitement.  Yesterday morning was different.  The line snaked through the building and down the street, car lights illuminating the building and the faces of voters and eager local candidates.  The chill of the November morning combined with an electoral fervor to create a crackle, but not one as electric as I sensed on election day in 2008.

As my eyes scanned the line of this small-town voting location, my mind did an automatic accounting, “Democrat, Democrat, not sure, not sure, Republican, Democrat, Republican, Republican, not sure, not sure.”  There aren’t many secrets in a small town, and far fewer when it comes to the kind of election season we’ve had.  In 2008, townspeople commented about my street, where house after house boasted Obama signs in the front yards.  This year has been different.  There were a few, hopeful Clinton signs up, but they were not nearly so consistently placed nor so seemingly optimistic as the 2008 signs.  They were a little more desperate, less certain, less willing or allowed to express glee.

The support for Hillary Clinton was hard won for so many reasons.  Core misogyny, the Bernie bros who believe you can talk about inequality without considering race or sex, questions about Hillary’s husband’s (mostly not her own) baggage, and doubts about solid representation for people of color.  It’s hard to be the candidate who, for some voters, is just “not the other candidate,” someone for whom they’re settling either because they won’t vote for Trump or because they can’t vote for Bernie.  For some of us, though, no matter the limitations, we saw her as the right candidate at this time, the person with the most experience, diplomacy, awareness, and sense of justice.  Not the most radical, that’s for sure, except that I think it’s pretty damned clear that electing women has become a rare and radical act.

In fact, through some of the election season, I felt glee, a glee I only expressed in select corners.  It was a tempered glee, if that’s possible, because I knew Clinton didn’t fully represent so many of the people who chose her as their nominee, so many people I care about.  I also always wished environmental issues were much more front and center.  I still do. But my own single self (the selfish self?) felt glee, just to vote for a woman and to think our nation might respect a fiercely competent woman enough to be led by one.

Women are 51% of the United States population and have seen so little governmental representation for so very long.  So many bright lights, so few elected officials, so much gender shrapnel.

I think I’ll get my resilience and fight on in a few days, but for now…

Just damn it.

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