Remember, remember, the eighth of November. Like so many other people in my filter bubble, I registered my snide remarks assuming the inevitability of Clinton’s win that evening and came home before 6pm to watch the east coast results come in and see a 10pm acceptance speech.
Indifference that Ohio and Florida were too close to call in the first hour: “To be expected.”
North Carolina and Pennsylvania much closer than anticipated in the second hour: “Noise from early precincts.”
Widening short-falls in Michigan and Wisconsin by the third hour: silently re-configuring decision trees to find a new path to 270.
Nausea and palpitations by the fourth hour: the happy clicks of refreshing feeds filling a painfully somber void.
Waking up from a short night of fitful sleep with the emotional hangover: Who should I be mad at?
Myself: I was a reluctant supporter of Hillary — at best. I held my nose and cast my mail-in ballot. Then I returned to tweeting my daily snark and assumed other fellow sober citizens would do the work to extinguish the dumpster fire. I didn’t lift a finger to donate or volunteer when I had the resources and skills to do so. I did not in fact do everything in my power to stop this from happening.
Others: Too bad no one bothered to show up to vote. 7 million fewer ballots cast in 2016 than in 2012. Democrats refusing to show up to save GOP supporters from themselves. Registering disaffection with a broken political system by re-electing almost every incumbent. Rewarding naked cynicism and bigotry with control of all three branches of government.
Systems: A GOP that profits from gridlock and flourishes under voter disaffection. An electoral system that has twice in less than two decades disenfranchised the will of a majority of Americans. A media so enamored of its objectivity it marinades in false equivalences. A party apparatus hell-bent on a painless coronation rather than a fair competition.
Denial sets in: I won’t bear the burden of Obamacare being repealed, state security forces occupying my neighborhood, my religion becoming criminalized, or violence against my body normalized. Sure, my quantitative social science research agenda has just spectacularly failed one of its most prominent and important tests, but I can eat that crow for the rest of my professional career. At the end of the day I’m a straight, white, male college professor: I’ll be comparatively fine under a Trump administration. After all, things have been going pretty great for people like me since 2008! Ok, more like before 1492.
Bargaining begins: Maybe there’s something to be salvaged from his proposed policies? Maybe crazy will moderate itself once the gravity of the office sinks in? Maybe his brand of populism will still fracture the coalition of teahadists, chickenhawks, and culture warriors? Maybe this is an opportunity for Democrats to get their own house in order and pursue an “aggressive progressive” agenda for once? Maybe this sets up a huge wave election in 2020 when we can dismantle the gerrymandering of 2010?
The earth hasn’t yet made a full rotation, so I’m a long way from getting through the depression or acceptance stages of grieving. But I will redouble my efforts in the next four years to support organizations like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NAACP, and RAINN to limit the damage a Trump administration is poised to inflict on our democracy. And while the 2018 mid-term election is already poised to deliver a super-majority to the GOP, I will dedicate myself until then to fighting for once instead of cynically screeching from the sidelines. It’s time to take our country back.