I’m Still With Her.

On November 8, 2016, I woke up feeling so, so happy and proud to be an American. I went to work listing to Beyoncé’s Run The World on my iPhone and sporting my “I Voted” sticker I had been specifically saving for the occasion. I did mini-Election Day lessons with my 9th and 10th graders, and collected Election-based essays from my 11th and 12th graders (as we had just spent the first two months of the school year studying the US Elections.) I came home feeling giddy, with a grin slapped across my face. I changed into my “The Future is Female” sweatshirt, poured myself a gin and tonic, and toasted to Hillary Clinton with my flatmates– whom we were certain was going to become our first female President-elect.

IMG_4216.JPGWhen I suddenly awoke at 3:30 am France time on the 9th, I was determined not to glance at my phone– I had a long day ahead of me and I needed my sleep. But of course, I couldn’t help myself– and when I saw Donald Trump in the lead, I knew that I would not be going back to bed.

I joined my flatmate in her room across the hall, where we had wine and were streaming CNN, NBC, and ABC on various laptops and tablets. It was still early and the polls were still open in many of the westernmost states. Trump and Clinton were pretty neck and neck, but the fact that Trump had already gotten halfway to 270 was pretty shocking to all of us.

But then, Trump took Florida. And then he took Ohio. And then he took Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania.

My friends across France and the UK had also been up since about 3 or 4 am; my phone was literally buzzing nonstop from friends based in the USA and Europe as I set it down and jumped in the shower. Although the results were still not called at 7 am, I knew what was going to happen. I left the house and biked to work with my headphones streaming CNN, in the dark.


I work with a handful of American colleagues. I had been upset on the tram, and was a bit relieved (in the worst way possible) that I was not alone. My students were shocked; many did not understand. My colleagues gave me their condolences– as if someone– our country— had died.

I remember just going through the motions that day, and the week that followed. I had therapy on Wednesday afternoon, and my American therapist and I talked of little else. Later that evening at debating club, we streamed Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. At home, it was somber. No one really knew what to say. We just all hugged each other and sobbed.

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That weekend, I barely left the house. Until this election, I had never voted for a president  who had lost. I had never had a president I hated. I’d never felt so devastated over the results of an election. The last time I felt something remotely similar was Brexit.

Because the thing is, I wasn’t prepared or expecting a Trump victory (or for that matter, a Republican majority in the Senate and the House). And because I didn’t actually think that Trump was going to win, I didn’t really give much thought to a post-Trump reality. I didn’t think about how it would make me feel towards my family and friends , or how I would move forward with my relationships with these people I do love and care about back in Wisconsin, whom I know either voted for Trump or against Clinton, because I really, truly thought that Hillary Clinton had this election in the bag.

I’m hurting– so many of us are hurting. Because I know a lot of good people who casted a vote for Trump– people who care about their retirement savings and their health insurance and their loved ones and the US economy. But something about how easily people I know and love were able to look past the dangerous and horrifying rhetoric that a Trump leadership supports for women, sexual assault survivors, minorities, people with disabilities, religious minorities, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, scares me. It just doesn’t sit right.

There are many things to take away from this election. First, don’t ever underestimate how much the world hates women, and really, people will literally vote for anyone– including a giant, orange Twitter egg, before voting for a competent, qualified, deserving woman. Secondly, we are a deeply broken, divided country. I realize now more than ever that as an American expat, I live in a bubble of progressive, inclusive, open, accepting people. It was a shock to realize that many more people than I wanted to believe do not think like I do. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed. One thing that does not need to be fixed, however, is the greatness of America. We don’t need to be great again, because we are already great. Clinton said it best:

“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought, but I still believe in America and I always will. I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe as deeply as I ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us. Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together, and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that.” — Hillary Clinton

It heartens me to know that Clinton won the popular vote–more people are on our side than Trump’s. And even though we were on the losing side of history this time around, I truly do not believe it is the wrong one.

This past Sunday, I celebrated my fourth annual Thanksgiving in France. I’ve started to slowly, but surely, find the best parts of America, and the American, in me, again.

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Bisous,

Dana

 

15 thoughts on “I’m Still With Her.

  1. This is the most horrifying U.S. election in recent memory. Like you, I was not prepared for what happened – I spent all evening in denial, slowly watching the map turn redder and redder. I still don’t understand. I am in a liberal California bubble over here, and it’s hard to grasp that there are so many people who disagree with what I and almost everyone I know believe to be the most fundamentally important things in life.

  2. Oh Dana I am so there with you. My sister worked for Hillary’s campaign and the loss was felt SO deeply in my family, all the more so because I wasn’t there. That’s been the hardest thing for me in these subsequent weeks…feeling so limited in the solidarity I can show and activism I can partake in, wanting to call my congressmen, go out and protest, but being so far away. Particularly coming from the political epicenter of it all — Washington, it’s made me very weirdly homesick…

    But it’s also inspired me, and I hope many other people, to keep fighting for what is right !!! I had the revelation recently that our generation of democratic youths have never voted for a white man to be president…that gives me so much hope and I truly believe that is a future we will reach in my lifetime ❤

  3. I had a lot of doubts about the election but I never let myself seriously consider a Trump win, so like you, I didn’t speculate much about the ramifications of his presidency. It’s been like sinking into a nightmare. America is hella sexist, yes, but it’s also so very racist. And while the depth and breadth of that is not a shock to me, it’s been very disappointing to know that I have friends/family who blithely gave that a pass. That some politicians are suggesting that we focus less on civil rights and try to appeal to the white working class (ie just be more racist). I’ve been comforted by the fact that HRC won the popular vote, despite all the misogynistic media coverage, voter suppression, etc. I’m grateful for the people who are fighting back in their own small ways, and inspired by them. But America can’t continue to be great if our politicians won’t fight for us too, and the general silence is deafening.

  4. This has been so hard and is only getting harder with the picks Trump is making for his administration. I’m glad you had colleagues to support you at work. I got a text from one of my colleagues also the day of. Generally French people seem to be compassionate about it.

    I remember being disappointed with both Bush elections though I only voted in the second (I was 16 in 2000). 2004 was crushing, but not as soul-crushing as this. I truly wonder if it’s the end of the US as a beacon of democracy (flawed as it has always been) in the world.

    1. I lived in a family who LOVED Bush and I was 10 and 14 at the time he was elected and re-elected; so I loved Bush by default. I remember people explaining that this is Bush era 2.0. We’ll see how it turns out… I’m not optimistic.

  5. Like you, the results shocked me; I actually found out about it when I came into school the morning after (I didn’t stay up the night before to watch the results) and it wasn’t until a colleague told me who had won the elections. I really thought it was a joke; I just couldn’t believe it.

    Looking back, it made me realize just how sheltered I was back in the U.S., having grown up all of my life in such a liberal, progressive part of the country (Los Angeles), and not being able to fathom that there’s still an overwhelming part of the nation that don’t share the same views as mine.

    While I don’t believe that Trump’s policies will be immediately in effect within the first few months of his presidency (thank goodness for slow bureaucracy, eh?), I hope not to be in the U.S. when they actually take effect, whether in the first year or in the potential four years to come. We’ll just have to see, and stay strong! Really appreciated your post!

  6. This is great-I’ve never seen anything that sums up my views so perfectly. I’m not American, I’m an Irish guy and I live in France but I have never been so affected by an election. I followed the election from the beginning and I did, and do, believe that Hillary deserved to be the first female president. The scariest thing is that it’s not just America, I can see the rise of intolerance across the world. I think people underestimate how much a Clinton win would’ve helped women and minorities. It would’ve been a massive step in the right direction. However, she didn’t win and everyone has to make the best of it. But even if Donald Trump’s policies don’t turn out to be that bad, this is still one of the worst things to happen in my lifetime. People accepted hate, divisiveness and bigotry.

    I have never been more ashamed to be a white male, but I’m determined to be the change I want to see in the world. #StillWithHer

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