Why This Election Felt So Personal

Originally published November 12, 2016

The night of this election, seeing results coming in I knew what was happening and I felt gutted.  Like each of the 61.2 million people who voted for now President-Elect Trump had collectively come together in a line and one by one punched me in the gut as they voted and here I am, days later, still trying to catch my breath.

I’m not a staunch Hillary supporter - I voted for Kasich in the primary and would have voted for him again….I still wish Papa Joe’s timing had worked out and we had Joe Biden’s smiling face giving us a good laugh and heartfelt feeling of safety.  My political science professor always told me I had a “goldilocks” outlook. It's true. I do.

So if I wasn’t invested in the #imwithher campaign why...why am I still feeling this so personally?

Well….ego, obviously. Sneaky ego shows up everywhere - as it is the root of all suffering. But how did this hurt and why? I believe working through those emotions allows us to be free of ego and understanding is the beginning of love and peace.  

SOOO....HERE’S SOME BACKGROUND

When I was 5 years old I would have told you that I would be the first woman president of the United States (or an Olympic ice skater despite the fact I’d never been ice skating or a trapeze artist in the circus before cirque de soleil made that a real thing).  I believed it and felt it strongly.

My first memory of an election was in 1992 with my 2nd grade teacher Mrs. Urbanski - the class voted and Clinton won. We were 8 - we discussed what we knew (what our parents had told us) and Clinton won. We all accepted it, moved on and went to recess.  No arguments. No fighting.

I volunteered with the local county election official in high school in 2000 and we watched with anticipation in our social studies class for weeks while the Al Gore/George H.W. Bush Florida hanging chad argument played out.  I decided I needed to study this experience and majored in political science in college. WHICH I LOVED.

In 2004 I worked for several elections - all of which, lost. I spent hours, passion, time and heart into those elections and they all lost. I was disappointed but I wasn’t hurt.  I knew that was part of the game - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  You gather up, learn from what you went through and move on.  

But....This one was different…. Here’s where I’ve found my why…...

1 - The Dismissing of the “Locker Room Talk” and Accusations

This year, I have come to deal with issues in my past surrounding inappropriate behavior, all by men in a position of “authority” or “power”.  (See It Could Have Been Worse” followed by “Talk About It”) I know Donald Trump, not personally, but I know men like him. Who talk like him, think they have a right to women’s bodies without regard to how that woman or any woman feels.   

When I hear these accounts of Trump’s accusers, when I hear the things he has blatantly said and continued to say throughout his campaign about women - it bothered me, made me shudder, sick to my stomach and I assumed the rest of the US would see this (among many other terrible things he has said) and know surely, a guy like that simply couldn’t be the leader of the free world.  

Surely, No one would WANT a guy like THAT as the President of the United States….I thought.

When I saw how I wrong I was, initially I didn’t understand HOW so many people would be OK with that kind of language, talk or behavior.  I didn’t understand WHY I was feeling so awful.  Why I felt like I was on the verge of tears for days…..  

As I worked through it, talked about it, wrote about it I finally knew what is was.

2 - This Felt Personal

I felt like those 61.2 million Americans were individually dismissing me.  They dismissed the accusations, the on record behavior and language that so many of the Trump voters I know would never accept from any of their colleagues, sons, daughters or significant others.

It was a dismissal of language, of past behavior of these women, their feelings of being unsafe, unheard and afraid to speak up….it felt like a dismissal of me.  

That those actions, accusations, etc. didn’t matter enough for a rich, white man to keep him from a leading the United States of America…. Just gutted me…. Made me feel the speaking out I’ve been doing on the topic of sexual assault was all a joke because it didn’t matter enough.  

Rationally, I know this isn’t the case. I know so many Trump voters who are some of the most amazing people, who would never accept language or behavior like that from any person they know.  Feelings aren’t rationale sometimes people - and the ego is DEFINITELY NOT.  

I was having a severe cognitive dissonance - how would good people dismiss me, someone they know and care for? (Answer: They wouldn’t and they didn’t but again that’s how it felt)

3 - This Is *Partially Why Assault Doesn’t Get Reported As Often As It Should

I have a friend who pushes me to confront at least one or more of the men who have put me in an uncomfortable situation, who violated me and my personal safety.  The old man neighbor is dead, but others are still out there as if nothing ever happened.  They probably never think of me.  But when I see and hear the things Donald Trump says, I think of those men. I am sent back to the exact same place of fear and unease when those instances occurred.

I have always said it wouldn’t matter if I came forward, named names,  it wouldn’t make a difference and because I wasn’t raped no one would care enough or even believe me for it to make any difference.  The fact that 62.1 million Americans chose to shrug their shoulders at the language, accusations, etc. made me feel like it was further proof that an outcome of nothing would be true. If it doesn’t affect them personally, it doesn’t matter, it can be shrugged off.

Again, rationally, I know this isn’t the case.  I know many Trump voters and know that’s not how they feel or would feel.  But man, it’s a tough blow to swallow.  

So for people who don’t understand why SO many people are SO upset…..why a woman, a Muslim, an African-American, any member of our LGBTQ community (and on and on) I think….just maybe a lot of us feel this personally in a way you might not be able to understand because maybe you’ve never been in a place where you feel THAT unsafe.  

That’s ok, that’s not your fault.  I wouldn’t wish that feeling upon anyone.  But empathy and a little attempt at understanding go a long way.

4 - I’m Not Mad at America, I’m Mad He Got Away With It  

Ok so this only partially true.  I know this elections wasn’t easy. I know this choice wasn’t easy.  That these two candidates weren’t ideal.  I get why people - in the big picture - voted for Trump. They wanted change.  I get that.  

I’m not mad at those individuals for that.  I don’t believe we as a country are so divided.  I know we are so much more alike than we realize.  But to see bad people get rewarded for their bad behavior….. Just doesn’t seem right.  (and I know that could be spoken for both candidates)

To give any bigger of a platform to such fear mongering, sexist, racist talk initially made me fearful, big time. It only makes it seem like it’s OK for others when someone on such a large platform gets the “meh, we can overlook it” from 25% of the USA.

But I refuse to live by fear. I refuse to allow fear to wallow in my heart.  I know so many of those people who voted for President-Elect Trump didn't do so because of but in spite of his rhetoric and behavior.  

I allowed myself to grieve, to figure out why I felt this in such an intense way. When I walked through it and understood the why behind my feelings I realized the role my own ego was playing.

Those people didn’t personally hit me in the stomach (though I am still catching my breath).  That’s my ego feeling wounded - that I felt like people should all feel like me.  I know many amazing people who voted for Trump, and many amazing people who voted for Hillary.  

I know your vote doesn’t make you a bad person (no matter who you voted for….unless you were in a true swing state and voted third party….kidding...mostly….ok kidding....mostly)

Sure, there are people with backwards beliefs that voted for Trump b/c of his rhetoric and behavior and not in spite of it…. But those people I know, in my community, in my life, in my family, are not those people.  They voted in spite of it for a whole host of other reasons.  

So ego, thanks for reminding me you’re still here and I have work to do on myself, we all need a reminder here and there.  To those people hurting...I get it.  

What this has done has encouraged me to help where my passion is….to figure out how I can help those victims of sexual assault…. Volunteering time, money, voicing my concerns, etc.  Playing a part, not just sitting back and hoping. I hope you all do the same and can move forward with love.  

I know we can and we can will.  Thank you friends.