I’m sitting in a cafe listening to a jazz flutist and feeding my addiction to Chewy bars. It’s essentially like a cauldron of happiness. But despite my best efforts, I can’t make the pain of what happened on Tuesday, November 8 go away. Because this election, more dramatic that The Bachelor, more confusing than quantum mechanics, with more twists and turns than Disney World’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster churned out a result that sent nearly the entire (notably pro-Hillary) WashU campus into a tailspin. Myself included.
On that night, as I watched Trump’s electoral college number go up and up as the shocking swing state controversies were decided, I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I tried to deny the existence of my present reality and attempted to concentrate on the cucumbers I was somehow binge-eating. Yet when my friend came up to me and gave me a hug, I knew it was over. Trump’s victory speech, while cordial, felt like a blow to the gut. With each “Thank you” he said, I grieved for the LGBTQIA* community, for the Muslims who, the next day, would be publicly shamed in places all over the US, and for the swastika drawn on a park wall in New York with graffiti that read “Make America White Again." I grieved for women, for our economy, for our international relations, for Israel. I grieved for America, because even though the Electoral Vote made its choice, it didn't represent the plurality of Americans. As my mom asked me, “Why can’t our vote be good enough?” It’s hard to change the system though.
I’ve scrolled through Facebook post after Facebook post for days now. Some words have been filled with grief, others have urged me to move on. Some words have been celebratory, others irate, some even asked me to shame Trump supporters.
I know I can’t do that. Because Trump won this election fairly through the system that is currently in place, and as much as I disagree with his ideals and question those of the folks who voted for him, they, like me, are Americans, too. And at least they voted, unlike nearly half of America.
But despite the posts urging me to accept fate and move on, I know I’m not quite ready for that yet. To quote John Green in his masterpiece The Fault in Our Stars, “pain demands to be felt." And I sure am feeling it now. For all those overjoyed at the election results, congratulations, for those like me who are dismayed, I am sorry, and for those who are indifferent or who perhaps did not vote, I truly hope that you find a reason to care and to make your voice heard in politics because it’s important, because it affects all of us.
I went to what I thought was going to be a 2 hour vent session about the election results. Hundreds of students, parents, professors, newborns, and more from the St. Louis community gathered together on campus to express their views.
But instead of simply complaining about the outcome of the election, these incredible people instead shared their love for other people. Through song, speech, and some stellar carnations, the "love wins" theme of the gathering sent a warm ripple through the throng of people despite the chilly air. The sentiment that most resonated with me was when one student discussed that rather than ignoring the atrocities present in this election, we should recognize them and act upon them. Because even in the darkest times, there is hope.
We have to make our voices heard; it’s why I’m writing this piece. Despite this joyous/extremely difficult time, I take pride in knowing that people are able to voice their opinions and am so appreciative that I, having voted in my first presidential election, am able to share with others why telling stories DOES matter.I know America will get through this, as we have gotten through so many tough circumstances before. It will just take time.