I’d say I was shocked at the election results, but that would mean I had easily discernible feelings. Actually, I’m pretty numb. I’ve been so numb, I couldn’t execute the plan I had for an interview for this column. So instead, I offer a post-election commentary. I won’t get over this, though, nor do I want to.
Half my fellow citizens became unhinged when I wasn’t looking.
I’ve been numb since 4:00am on November 9 when I turned on the TV, after bolting from an election night bash around 9:30pm. I arrived at the event tense, but figuring Hillary Clinton was probably going to win. It would have been silly not to, given the polling. But I say “probably” because there was a nagging feeling I didn’t want to voice. I knew the FBI Director James Comey email surprise had done very bad damage, its effect was endlessly debated and discussed long after it became another non-story. Nonetheless, I got dolled up and partied in a roomful of celebrants bursting with pride and anticipation of welcoming the first female President of the United States. When the unthinkable results began to emerge, the affair became a sad and confused funeral and groups of people began running for the door. The situation was untenable. We weren’t electing a numbskull like George W. Bush. It wasn’t John Kasich — horrible, but probably qualified to lead. Don’t get me wrong: I would have been devastated had Kasich, Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz been elected, but at least I wouldn’t have feared the absolute worst. The US chose an inarticulate, racist, homophobic, pussy-grabbing buffoon to lead. “Lead us to where?” I wondered. Half my fellow citizens seemed to have become unhinged when I wasn’t looking.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway had me worried in early November. “Michigan is up for grabs,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on AC360. “We like what we hear on the ground there …” Her interview with Brian Williams on MSNBC, in which she commented on the false email indictment story, saying “the damage is done to Hillary Clinton,” basically summed it all up for me and sent a chill through my body. The Republican candidate’s team knew some things the other side didn’t know, and would stop at nothing to bury Hillary. More moral people wouldn’t fight back in any effective way. The broadcast press would continue to report on alleged news, and assist the ascendancy of a deviant, a criminal, to the world’s highest office.
Then, it was over. We’d been totally duped. I can’t even imagine how Hillary Clinton felt. I guessed there was something like the murderous rage of Medea happening in her private quarters at least for part of the evening of November 8, and then profound sadness. I am profoundly sad for her. How could she have failed, and been failed, so utterly? How was the data so misinterpreted? Hidden Trump voters, less engaged Democrats? Republicans secretly pulling the lever for Trump who’d said they wouldn’t? Here’s a quick video post-mortem from Bloomberg. The New York Times published an interesting, if non-committal article on November 10 about how data failed us. One comment, from Dr. Pradeep Mutalik: “It’s the overselling of precision.”
A deviant, a criminal, won the world’s highest office.
Of Hillary Clinton’s makeup-free face now, a friend bitterly spat, “She looks like any normal woman who has been beaten up every day for 27 years.” He also said, “The country will elect a black man with an Arabic middle name before they will elect a woman.” That statement sounds condescending. It is what it is. I’m more than OK with Barack Obama, as is my friend. Was he my first choice? No, Hillary was. Is he brilliant, loving and decent? I’m thrilled to say, “yes.” For eight years, we’ve had a guy in office that set an example for moral rectitude. I have been proud of that, and awed.
Nothing will convince me this election wasn’t a comment on women’s worth. From the uncharacteristic way Today’s Matt Lauer condescended to Hillary in the Presidential Forum event to the threatening, scolding way Trump addressed her and spread his lies. She was verbally pummeled by anyone able to take a shot, while Trump remained unchallenged on the most outrageous statements. From the voting populace who ignored accusations of Trump sexual harassing women, his lewd comments on his own daughter, to everyone who ignored his upcoming child rape hearing while criticizing Hillary’s decision to stay with her husband despite his indiscretions. I guess some of his constituents thought the Access Hollywood tape was fake (the same ones that think Hillary murdered Vince Foster), but more than enough didn’t care he blatantly talked about assaulting women. It’s OK to talk that way about women. It comes with the territory to be sexually harassed and we just have to take it, or we should ignore it because after all, that’s how guys are. It’s boy talk, according to the President Elect’s wife, the plagiarizing, fake degree-carrying mannequin who’s going to campaign against cyber-bullying.
And the women who voted for Trump? We’ve learned that 94% of black female voters voted for Hillary Clinton, and by contrast, 53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. That’s the heartbreaker, but it’s not new. I can only assume black women are way more fed up than white women of taking shit from white men. Were they able to push aside doubts to hope just enough that Hillary would make a difference?
The one compelling thought I had immediately upon awakening on Nov. 9 was “I have to do better.” I’m extremely concerned about what is not being reported in the news and what is being ignored. I’ve been making phone calls to ask for re-counts and investigation into voter fraud and suppression (all of which would benefit all Americans). I’ve been making calls about an investigation into Russia’s influence on our American election (an investigation that would benefit all Americans). I’ve been signing petitions, voicing support for the ACA, asking my congressman and senators to denounce the Steve Bannon appointment — an effort which seems to be going absolutely nowhere. The last mainstream article about his opposition seems to have been written on November 21, though there was a post-card avalanche called for after Thanksgiving, meant to inundate Trump Tower.
I feel like I failed, too. I’ve been working like a dog on my own life and career, and ignoring bigger, moral issues. I know I’m a good human, and now I know that’s not enough. I greatly admire friends who boarded buses to Ohio and Pennsylvania to knock on doors. If the universe wills it, I may have 30 years or more to live and make a small difference. Of course, with every death of a friend, a rock star or actor I adore, it’s obvious life and opportunities can be cut short in a second.
I’m numb but I’m awake. I was going to use the expression “woke” which I adore. But as my friend the cabaret diva, Andrea Marcovicci, once said about wanting to sing “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “It just doesn’t seem appropriate for a white women in a black velvet dress.” But then appropriate doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of weight these days.