On election night in 2016 I swirled around a few glasses of cabernet and tried to not watch too much of the coverage but also checked my phone relentlessly wanting the reassurance of some strong numbers for Hillary or seeing her even take a state. I had started the election cycle as a Bernie Bro and even logged some volunteer time for his campaign and served as a delegate to the state convention. All in the name of the environment, fighting the corporate greed and 1%, rights for Indigenous people, and all the other tenants of democratic socialism that he delivered with messy hair and that endearing grumpy uncle accent. I was all in for Bernie and watched with tears as he conceded to Hillary.
On the other side of the aisle we watched the dark orange horse climb steadily to winning the nomination against all odds and I didn't believe it was actually happening until the final delegate was counted and his children announced that he had achieved the unthinkable. He gave the sort of speech he usually gives that leaves you confused and uninspired and I knew that although Hillary was not my first choice we would need to support her to beat this rising dictator. She is not a perfect candidate but would not take drastic measures to change so much of what President Obama had worked for. If you care about Mother Earth it seemed there was only one realistic way to to vote. I admire the Green party and Jill Stein but in our political system it seems the way to feel as though your vote counts is to support the major party candidate.
The election got closer and all things seemed to support Hillary. Her debates were strong, her numbers looked great, she was even approaching a level of likability that had so long eluded her. Trump was a joke right? We all sit around Saturday nights and poke fun of him as a united country laughing at the impeccable Alec Baldwin making a mockery of his whole appearance and schtick. I talked so much shit on Facebook, called her madame President, I told concerned family members that even if his base gets him the popular vote there is no way the electoral college will go for him. I mean isn't that why they are in place? To protect us from ourselves? To ensure the confederate flag waving mullet sporting KKK enthusiasts can't actually elect the leader of the free world? Right????
Wrong. Me and CNN got it way wrong.
We all know how this story ends. While Hillary beats him by about a 3 million vote lead in the popular vote he was able to attain the majority of support from he electoral college and sealed the deal.
I watched that night, feeling warmer and fuzzier from all the wine but nonetheless concerned and panicky. I cried when he won. I slept about 40 minutes that night. I went to work with a wine headache and watched a lifestream of Hillary conceding. I cried with her and for her. As a woman, as a mother, as someone who has worked very hard to have a career and be taken seriously, as a human watching another human have the rug ripped out from under her so publicly and so shockingly. I cried.
The night before Trump took office my husband found me in bed curled up in a ball. He asked what was wrong and through sobs I said when I wake up tomorrow President Obama will not be the president anymore and the racists have officially taken over and I'm scared.
Blogs are for honesty. And honestly I haven't been myself since the election.
I am admittedly a dramatic person. I have 18 or so very distinct feelings and feel them all very hard. I am sensitive. I soak up the energies of those around me. I probably drink too much and use way too much social media. It would make sense that would have some personal reactions to the public events events since that Tuesday in November. What gives me some sort of solace is that others are quick to tell me that I am not alone. There is hopelessness, shock, disappointment, fear, outrage, distrust, uneasiness, and anger all around us right now. Someone like me soaks this up like a sponge and it feeds my own demons. And they have been so very hungry.
The root of why this election was so upsetting is that as marginalized people (people of color, women, transgender people, homosexuals, etc.) we already live with the knowledge that we are minorities and will have to work harder for equality in all areas of life. Trump and his team fed on the fear of white people that felt threatened by the growing amount of equal rights that all these groups were attaining. To them it seemed like we were getting special rights but it was actually us reaching the same level that they had been used to. The term white privilege became a way to start war with them on social media as they asserted that since they grew up poor or got turned away for a job or haven't made it big in life even though some of their black peers have then it must be a false notion developed by those us practicing "reverse racism" which is about as real as unicorns. Trump wanted to erode those equal rights. He wanted to restore a sense of white power. He mocked disabled people, he promised to advance oil drilling on sacred Indigenous lands, he made it quite clear that the ruling class would include elites and likeminded conservatives and yes men. Those of us that are not favored by this alt-right movement are to be second class citizens.
Being a mother of Indigenous daughters and knowing that this might be the first election then really remember and feel the impact of I have a responsibility to work hard to make sure that the political and social climate does not dampen their dreams or affect their safety. I am no stranger to activism, having worked on Indian mascot removal since my teens and speaking out on many issues. However it seems like now activism is not a thing I do here and there when needed but has moved to a lifestyle. We need to resist the alt right agenda. We need to protect Mother Earth. We still need to change all the racist mascots. We gather at rallies and marches. We call and write our elected officials. We spend countless hours on Facebook making sure we aren't missing important information or sharing "fake news". We argue with those that don't agree with us or minimize our concerns.
I don't have all the answers but it seems important to document these feelings and this time in our history. I never thought that in my lifetime that white supremacy groups would endorse a political candidate and help influence an election. I have lost many Facebook friends, had bitter arguments with family members, and even felt a disconnect with my own husband because as a white man I feel like he can't fully understand what my life is like now. It's not just Trump, it is knowing that we live amongst people that supported him and said that his hateful and racist following was ok with them. I am in no way living in fear but there is a heightened awareness of the differences in this country. Within weeks of being in office Trump proved through his executive orders and political maneuvering that he is prepared to follow through on his campaign promises and make his base happy. His base that includes KKK members and oil executives alike. We watched him sign off of on the Dakota Access Pipeline construction and send militarized police to evacuate the Indigenous people at the site who have endured long winter months just trying to protect sacred land and clean water. We watched him place an immigration ban on select countries that seemed to be more based in racism than proven terror threats.
So where do we go from here? I don't know. But I am comforted by the fact that there are so many of us that are getting much more active and involved. There is an energy that is part rebellious, part healing, part sad, and part hopeful. By seeking each other out maybe we can replace the scary hateful energy with this conflicted but positive kind.
Indigenous people are one part of the puzzle. We've always had a unique struggle in this country as being the original inhabitants and first victims of the colonization of America. Now we are finding a new network of other marginalized groups and many strong allies to our causes. If there has been one remarkable takeaway from this campaign and election it is that now we have a unity with other groups that wasn't as strong before. So many helped the NoDapl fight and continue to help us protect the earth. We have to take care of each other.
This current administration will take a toll on people like me. I take things to heart and don't know how to turn off my crazy. I hope by giving this stress life on this page it is helpful to me and others that may be going through the same cycles. It's not just politics now, it is the world that we live in and the future of our planet and society.
Part of self care through this season of our lives as Americans is acknowledging the fears and working towards solutions together. Educating those that voted for Trump on why that vote has consequences that they may not be aware of because of their privilege. I will keep working as I know many will but it's important to take a timeout once and a while to be aware of what the work does to you. Here is to hoping for more results, more outreach, more progress. And less destruction of our earth and our values.
Like so many that came before us we will keep fighting for what is right. And we might cry a little along the way and those tears water the ground that sustains us. Indigenous people have a lot of fight in us, even if we get tired we are a constant reminder that not every powerful take over works. Our existence defies the nature of colonization. We are not conquered, we are still here. I am relieved to give these words life and I hope they help in the the great healing and forward movement.
All my relations.