Moving Forward

Well, I’ve had a couple days to digest the outcome of the election, and while I strongly disagree with the results, I realize that I have no choice but to accept it, or at least live with it. For the first time in my life I understand what it feels like to seriously disapprove of my president and totally disagree with the direction the country appears to be heading in. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and honestly the loss hurt me even more than I would have expected. I’ve never been the type of person to sit around and complain, so Jessica and I have to find a way to move forward. I intend to use this as a learning experience.

There’s no question that this election has changed me as a person, and I’m thankful for that. I have no regrets regarding anything I said in my post on Tuesday, and I’m actually really glad I wrote it when I did, which was before any of the results started coming in. Had I waited until now, a very different post would have been written, so I’m glad I was able to express my true, uncluttered feelings before everything started going south.

It’s really difficult for me to understand the mindset of the Trump voter. The fact that he lost the popular vote and yet still won the election makes it even harder. I’m certainly not complaining about a rigged system, and I understand the electoral college, but it still stings. I have to accept the fact that, like most people in this world, I am a product of my environment. Having spent the vast majority of my life in this liberal, progressive corner pocket of America known as the Pacific Northwest, I can’t help but identify with the predominant mindset that occupies it. Obviously not everyone up here feels the way I do, but most of the people Jessica and I associate ourselves with do feel this way, so we’ve all had a tough time.

Tuesday night was an emotional one for us, and I suppose being so active on social media only made it worse. Consequently neither one of us has so much as thought of logging into Facebook since the results were final. I know that all the rhetoric on there would do nothing but upset me even more, and I simply don’t want to end up saying something that I’ll later regret. I’d rather use this blog as my platform, because at least here I can express my thoughts in long form, which is how I am most comfortable.

Throughout this election I’ve tried to understand and relate to those who have gravitated so strongly towards Trump. I’ve read articles, listened to Republican officials, and done my best to put myself in their shoes. While I understand what they’re saying, I can’t truly grasp it. I simply don’t come from that world, and don’t hold those concerns. That said, I certainly respect the fact that the vast majority of people out there, regardless of party affiliation, only want what is best for this country; it’s just that we all have different ideas of what that means and how to get there. There are certainly some very bad people who support Trump, but they are quite limited in numbers. Unfortunately their voice is louder than their numbers are strong.

I have a lot of worries moving forward. Every issue I outlined on Tuesday is going to take a step backward, but nothing worries me more than the well being of our environment. To use Seattle as an example, this October was our wettest on record. We normally get 10 inches of rain between October and November combined. This year we got 10 inches of rain in October alone. Then tonight I heard on the local news that the first 10 days of November were our hottest on record. Must be a Chinese hoax. We need to start making positive changes now, but I just don’t see us coming anywhere near our potential under this new leadership.

Another major concern for me is the lack of checks and balances in our government. A Republican House, Senate, President, and soon to be Supreme Court is a bad thing, and you’d better believe I’d say the exact same thing if it was all Democratic. We need checks and balances. We need diversity. We no longer have that and it scares me. This is how dictatorships begin, and I’d like to think that we’re better than that as a nation, but I also thought we were above electing such a foul and disgusting man as our president. Obviously I was wrong.

A couple things I’ve learned recently about our country are: the political center is dead, yet racism and sexism are alive and well. I empathize with the parents of this country who wonder aloud what they’re supposed to tell their children. One might think that our kids are too young to understand, but such thoughts would be selling them short. When Jessica told the girls yesterday morning that Hillary had lost, Ava’s immediate reaction was “How could that bad man who says nasty things win Mommy? What am I going to tell my friends?” She then broke down into tears. Of course this caused Jessica to also break down into tears, so then Elise tried to reassure everyone by telling them, “Don’t worry, Daddy will protect us.” As you can imagine, hearing that news nearly caused me to break down as well.

In case you’re wondering how Ava, a 4 year old, could possibly have an opinion on Donald Trump, the answer is simple: she came downstairs one night and found Jessica and I watching the final presidential debate. She showed a surprising interest and asked us if she could watch along with us. After a short discussion we decided to allow it. So there she sat for the next half hour or so watching the debate, asking questions, and doing her best to understand what was going on. We were so impressed by this that we decided to explain to her, in terms that she could easily comprehend, where we stood and why. Anyone who knows Ava knows that she is like a little elephant; she never forgets anything. Since then there has been one additional Hillary supporter in our house. Regardless of where you stand, you have to respect her.

As a person who has always considered themselves very optimistic, I realize that the tone of my two posts this week has been an exception from the norm, so I’d like to end things on a positive note. I’ve said the things I’ve said, and formed the opinions previously expressed, for one reason: because I care. I look back at the first election I was old enough to vote in, and I didn’t even take the time to vote. I was too apathetic to find a polling station and check a box, let alone put in the effort to formulate an opinion. In that sense I have come a long way. I’m constantly amazed at how becoming a parent has changed me as a person, and this election has been an extension of that growth. While I will attempt to limit my emotional engagement in future elections, I now have a very clear understanding of where I stand, and ultimately who I am. I must admit I was impressed when Trump spoke of unity and togetherness during his acceptance speech; I only wish he had spread more of that message along the campaign trail. Obviously doing so would have hurt him with some of his more extreme followers, so he did what he had to do in order to win. I understand that, and am willing to look past it, but I still hold hope that we can begin to mend this great political divide and come together for a greater good. Our children depend on it.

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