Disclaimer: This is not a well researched essay that will deliver answers to people. I am writing outside my comfort zone, mainly in hopes to connect with others like me, others who find themselves in despair this last week and are trying to come to grips with reality. Here I am, writing my first blog post. Spilling my heart out. I hate this, but I need it.
I have a confession to make to my friends, namely those of minorities, including those who are people of color, LGBTQ+, and/or female: I voted for Jill Stein. Okay, this is probably not that shocking. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, and exactly no one is surprised. Except those of you who heard me verbally support Hillary Clinton for several months. I did not intend on choosing Stein on November 8, 2016, but as I walked to my polling place, I had flashbacks of the last year. I kept thinking of how angry I was at the Democratic National Convention (DNC), and I changed my mind minutes before casting my ballot.
Yet, I thought it through more than you might think. I live in California, I took advantage of the fact that I knew my state would go blue, and it did by a long shot. Had I voted in a swing state, I must confess to the other liberal friends of mine, you can bet your ass that Clinton had my vote. Because duck* Trump, and duck the platform he willfully provided to people who hate my gay friends, my Mexican husband, and my vagina. No, I do not think all Trump supporters feel this way. It is important to acknowledge that because we cannot continue to hate each other. However, I must note that I saw they willingly stood with their hands over their ears while this fear and hate mongering was spewed by Trump’s campaign, and that is a hard one to grapple with. But, that is for another post.
Back to the Jill Stein thing. Why does this feel like a confession? The hardest part of this election was not only feeling divided from people I love who supported Trump, it was also feeling divided from those who are technically on the same side of the aisle as I am, who were deeply angry at each other on whether or not they supported Hillary Clinton or Sanders in the primaries. Then, after June, it was a division between those who supported Clinton or Stein. This election got deeply personal on all sides. It got really, really ugly. That is why it felt like a confession and it hurts to speak about—or write about—because people who are usually on “my side” became angry and dramatically split. My choice was potentially an attack on their well-being. This sentiment was actually kind of true and it really sucked.
After Bernie lost the primary, “Vote your conscience” was a big damn deal this election. It made people feel better about their choices. I tried to support it, and be optimistic, but in the back of my mind the entire time I thought, “what a crock.” My conscience knew that Trump was not an option for me. So Hillary, right? The first woman president, does not hate homosexuals (anymore?), probably would not take my healthcare from me, call it a day. NOPE. If you want Hillary, according to the Jill Stein supporters, you love war, you are giving into the system, you are not a real progressive, and you are part of the problem. Okay, Jill Stein, then. I agree with her on almost every issue. NOPE. If you vote for Stein, according to Clinton supporters, you may as well just hand your vote to Trump. Your reckless white privilege is putting us all at risk. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.
Now, I could have just ignored everyone, screw their opinions. The problem was I became truly torn on what was right. My potentially reckless white privilege does indeed affect people. I am not saying this in attempts to blame minorities for pointing this out (that is stupid) or as a “white guilt” thing. This is me acknowledging that as a middle class, straight, white Christian woman, as part of a demographic that overwhelmingly voted for Donald Ducking Trump, what I say and do affects the people I love. I care about their well being. So no, it did not matter which choice I made. My conscience, even now, is not clear. I felt like tearing my hair out up until Election Day. I silently wracked my brain for the right answer. But, alas, I made my choice. I realized as I walked to my polling place, after we have all read the damn emails and we know how much the DNC, and even Hillary Clinton herself, effected Bernie Sanders’ campaign (spoiler, it was quite negatively), that if he had been the candidate, I might not have been wracked with anxiety last Tuesday. The DNC failed us and, as it turned out, I have more “Bernie or Bust” in my ideology than I cared to admit.
Rewind to July 2015, I went to a Sanders rally in Phoenix, AZ, of all places, while visiting family. I thought, in that very red state, the poor guy would be talking to like 50 people and some chirping crickets. Turned out the place was practically bursting at the seams with people, and they were on fire. The guy was really popular, I missed the memo. Bernie spoke about many issues that I hold near and dear. He spoke in favor of protecting the rights of people of color, in favor of protecting our healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, a higher minimum wage, student debt relief, he spoke against the racism already being spewed by our now President-Elect Donald Trump. And of course, the shining star of his platform, he spoke out against the corruption that Wall Street, big corporations, and the one percent have inflicted on our nation’s politics. That was so important, to have a person running for president who did not have such corrupt influences, and was willing to fight against it. If you fast-forward to the debates, you could easily call him a broken record, and many did. Bernie always talked about the same thing, he never waivered. It was almost exhausting, but it was right. Don’t many of us feel that way? That we keep speaking, practically begging, for change and it just doesn’t happen? Sanders devoted his entire career to representing us, and then the DNC screwed him over. Fast-forward to June 2016, after the primary results came in, after a year of Berners putting their heart and soul into a cause, Hillary Clinton got the nomination, and we—the Sanders supporters—were devastated.
Berners, we have already done the “I told you so,” thing. I am not doing that today. Today, I am stepping out of my comfort zone to discuss (shudder) feelings. There have been a lot of those going around since last week’s election. For me, mainly, my feelings (ew) revolve around this: how does a Bernie Sanders supporter come to terms with a Trump presidency? Trump supporters might claim, “Oh, but he is anti-establishment, too!” Even if I can ignore how problematic his platform of hatred is, I think the people he decided to surround himself with since Tuesday pretty much proved that completely wrong. Anyway, how do we come to terms with the hatred of many of his supporters? How do we deal with the reality that our nation let the opportunity of a real candidate for change slip through our fingers? “I told you so,” does not get the job done.
Answer: What we do is we fight, not physically with one another, not in arguing matches on Facebook. We stand up to the oppression we might possibly face. We stand with our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, we stand with minorities who are living day to day in fear. We listen, and we pay attention.
And to Clinton supporters, yes, you want this too. We wanted a lot of the same things you did. For a while I was a Clinton supporter, too, even if reluctantly. But we need you all to understand our anger. I think, now that the election is over, you are seeing what we saw, and a lot of you are pretty pissed too. I am not saying this to rub it in your face, but just to reiterate for the sake of understanding, we saw this loss coming. We saw the numbers and knew the DNC was, even just strategically, choosing a weak candidate. Whether or not we agreed with it, we saw the deep seeded hatred people have for Hillary Clinton as a serious downfall. We foresaw bigotry winning. Our nightmare, and yours, came true.
Now let me be very clear: I do not like to cry in front of people, I do not like to see people cry, I especially do not like to see it happen in a political/professional environment. To me, feelings are good, just, you know, later and by yourself. But this time was different. I did not cry when Bernie lost back in June, but I was pissed. I sobbed when Hillary lost, and I did not even like her that much. Even though I voted for Stein. I think it was because I have been holding my breath since June. I hoped with every fiber of my being that America would choose love over hate, and now the election is over, and the floodgates are opening for many people. I was not the only one crying, and this is significant. People are scared. This is true for Sanders/Stein and Clinton supporters alike. For Bernie supporters, though, it is also the exhaustion of seeing this happen again. We are pissed off, and maybe we sound like crying losers to those who don’t get it, but the reason we shed tears (ew) is because we put our heart and soul into this. Believe it or not, we do it because we love our country, as unconventional as status quo conservatives and liberals might find our ideas and methods to be.
And I must confess, I feel for Hillary, even though I ultimately could not choose her. It is hard for most (not all, but most) conservatives and die hard Bernie supporters to understand, especially since, in my opinion, she proved to stand more for the establishment than what was actually right, but I do. Girl, you have been doing this for over twenty years, have been working your ass off for something like forty years, you have one of the best political resumes, technically are one of the most qualified people in America to be president, and they still rejected you for a rich man with zero political experience. That has got to sting. Maybe on election night, she also cried alone in her shower while drinking a beer, because while I am confessing, you bet your ass that is what I did. Even people who like to look strong on the outside need to break down. It’s called healing. And feelings, I guess. Ugh.
Maybe it was not entirely about her. I cried for the progress we made in recent years that is now threatened. I also cried because, no matter the real reasons behind it, Clinton’s loss sent a harsh message. You can work your hardest, ladies, and you can do it for decades. You’ll still lose to a man with less experience than you. OUCH.
So my biggest confession is I do not know. It is hard to say that, isn’t it? Try it with me: I do not know. But sometimes we need to admit that we do not have the answers so that we can effectively search for them. I do not know if Bernie really would have beat Trump. I do not know if I made the right choice on Election Day, if I sent a message to the DNC, or if I threw my vote away. I do not know if that makes me a bad person, or if I should really be ashamed (spoiler, I am not). I do not know if Hillary Clinton deserved it or not. I don’t know what kind of president Trump will be. I do not know if I can keep my friends safe, the ones who now feel like targets have been placed on their backs. I do not know if we are all going to be okay. I do not know if I can keep being mature and react rationally anymore. The unknown is scary. So is a president elect who just this morning appointed a white supremacist for chief strategist.**
I do know that many people in this country are at a boiling point. I know we all, even those who voted for Trump, have something in common: we are fed up. So what now?
I know that love really does trump hate. I believe it with my heart and soul, even if this election seemed to send a different message. It is not over yet. Trump will be president, but we have not completely lost yet. We are breathing, and we still have voices. I am not saying, “Oh, you’ll be fine, everything will be okay.” For some people, it really won’t be. So I know we have a lot of work to do. We are angry, but we must lead everything with love. There is clearly way too much hate. My mourning period must end. I must be there for the people I love. I must not hide, but stand in solidarity with those struggling to maintain our freedoms, who want us all to experience the most basic right as human beings: to feel safe. I don’t have the answers yet, but I am actively searching for them. I hope you are, too. I will keep you posted on what I find.
And to President Elect Donald Trump, and those you surround yourself with in office, thank you. You lit a fire in us Sanders supporters. We are not going away, and we are paying close attention. We’ll be seeing you around.
*Our blog creator said, “Try not to use swear words,” (lol ducking square) so in hopes to bring some humor to a heavy topic, I am using the autocorrect version of the “f-word.”
** Donald Trump appointed Stephen Bannon, of Breitbart, to be chief strategist. Reports from his previous colleagues claim he has allowed the media source to become “a cesspool for white supremacy,” according to Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s not great.