Tuesday, November 8, 2016, was election day. I had barely slept overnight. I was jittery with excitement at the prospect of casting my vote for the first woman President. The most qualified candidate in modern American history, Hillary Clinton.
I had breakfast, prepared myself for the day, and went out to cast my first general election vote for President. The sky was clear, the energy in the air was electrified and I had never felt so confident and hopeful for the future of this country. At 9:30am, I made my way over to the polling place and stepped into the voting booth. I looked down and read the names on the ballot. Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Zephyr Teachout, Bill Magee and Jermaine Bagnall Graham. With an overwhelming feeling of patriotism and pride, I cast my ballots. After doing my duty as an American, I proceed to make phone calls and make contact on social media, urging everyone and anyone I spoke with to get out and vote.
I spent the following hours thinking about what would come the next day. I attempted to distracted myself with a long walk, household chores and such. The afternoon passed by and the time had come, polls were beginning to close. We would know an hour later, who would take the early lead. A few friends and I gathered in my bedroom with the highest expectations.
Hillary Clinton had taken a hefty lead in the early hours of the evening, as the night went, I grew increasingly worried. “Florida will go to Donald J. Trump.” “North Carolina will go to Donald J. Trump.” “Ohio will go for Donald J. Trump.” By 11 pm, I had become seriously concerned. The only chance Secretary Clinton had to win, was to hold on to three critical states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. States that were notoriously blue since 1988. At midnight, CNN announced that “Pennsylvania would go to Donald J. Trump.” Shortly after that, Wisconsin was called for Donald J. Trump. I had a pretty clear idea as to what was about to happen. It was 2:30 am when the final call was made, “Michigan will go to Donald J. Trump.”
I cannot fully do justice with words in describing how I felt in that moment. At 2:38 am, eastern standard time, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump and conceded the election. I had drank quite a bit of bubbly by this point and was crying a lot. It was unlike any feeling I had ever felt. To have worked so hard, for 20 straight months, and have it all come crashing down. I can’t imagine what Secretary Clinton felt. I was devastated.
Weeks passed by and the “election hangover” faded. I had planned to attend the inauguration of Hillary Clinton, but not for a second did I think I’d lose out on that opportunity. Clearly, I had another thing coming. I made the difficult decision to attend Donald Trump’s inaugural. I mulled it over and over in my mind for weeks. Do I attend the ceremony, and pay my respects to the process and to the man who had won the Presidency? I couldn’t bring myself to sit before a man like Donald Trump and be silent. So I decided to take to the streets.
On Thursday, January 19th, four friends and I packed up and left for Washington. However, we were going for different reasons. You see, I traveled to Washington with four lifelong friends, who all supported Donald Trump. I’ve learned, that although we disagree on a large spectrum of issues, they do love their country and should be given some respect for it. They wanted desperately to attend the inaugural of their candidate but lacked the appropriate accommodations and transportation. I extended the invite and we decided to split the cost of hotel room and transportation. I invited these four friends because I would hope, that they would have done the same for me If Hillary Clinton had won and I had no means of getting there to see it happen. The four of them gave me all the respect I could have possibly asked for and that is how I think our politics should be.
On Friday, January 20th, we arrived in D.C at 4:00 am. We had breakfast and went our separate ways. They would attend the ceremony while I joined in peaceful demonstrations around the city. Just down the road from the National Mall, we were closing checkpoints and making our voices heard loud and clear. I was disturbed by how aggressive the police behaved. An older gentleman, who happened to find himself at the front of a PEACEFUL protest, was shot directly in the face with a mace gun. Groups of protesters were shoved and thrown to the ground, people were arrested, it was a hectic scene. I can, with a great deal of confidence say that 98% of demonstrations were peaceful and extremely powerful.
By 1:00 pm on Friday, thousands were marching through the streets of D.C. We marched against sexism, racism, corrupt economics, the objectification of men and women, xenophobia, systematic oppression and more. We marched for quality healthcare for all. We marched for women's rights to decide what happens to their bodies. We marched for our public schools and our beloved teachers. We marched for common sense gun legislation. We marched for climate protection. We marched, for the future of America.
The following day, Saturday, January 21st, I attended the Women's March on Washington. The only difference between the marches that took place on the 20th and the marches on the 21st was the size. We marched for everything I mentioned above and more! Millions of people across this country went out and marched in what became the largest single day, national protest in American history. For weeks and weeks prior to this march, I was filled with doubt and worry and lacking any trace of hope for the future. This march - this movement that stretched to all seven continents, revived me. It reignited a fire of passion and hope within me.
At one point on Saturday, I found myself at the front of a march, with four fellow fighters, leading a group of five hundred people through the busy streets of D.C. We marched for more than two miles. By the time we were done, we had become a group of 25 people. It was beyond anything I had ever experienced in my life, to be at the front of the historic movement in the street of our nation's Capitol.
For anyone who took the time to read this article, hear my words and take action. Organize. Make phones calls. Run for office. Campaign for your favorite candidate. Everything in our lives is affected by politics. We have the power to create a society that works for all. When millions of people stand up and fight for a cause, they win. History has proven that time and time again.