It’s two days after the election. Thousands of people are protesting that Donald Trump is the president elect, the Mexican peso crashed as Trump began to consistently win states Tuesday night (though the majority of the global market recovered despite initial drops), and the media is just shell shocked, including late night TV hosts.
I want to call a Code Orange on America right now. (A Code Orange is the code at my hospital for psychotic patients, patients or families that will not settle down, and anyone who threatens staff. Security and the sheriff show up. It’s usually undramatic, but people have gotten tazed and arrested…)
But, I can’t. I don’t have any political authority to tell people to calm down. People obviously aren’t listening to Obama and Clinton responses to the election results calling for all of us to accept the new president -elect or Trump’s surprisingly humble and unitive victory speech, so why would anyone listen to me? Too, I don’t have any prescriptive authority, so there goes my grand plan to crush up buckets of valium and put it in the water.
But, guys. We need to calm down. I know from my nursing experience, telling people to relax just makes them tense up more. So, let’s take a deep breath, look at some facts, and calm ourselves down. Can you do that with me, America? I’m really frustrated too, but let’s look at some facts and figures together.
I wrote back in May when Donald Trump was the clear winner of the Republican nomination that I wasn’t afraid of him. I’m still not. Our choices for president were a scandal-ridden bureaucrat and a businessman with a horrible temperament. Even the best opinion article I’d seen on who to pick for president basically said vote Clinton because she’s not as bad as Trump. And that was basically her campaign line too. Wow, that’s great.
America, we knew we were going to have a subpar choice president. Many of us just didn’t think it was going to be that subpar choice. I’m still at little shocked and occasionally burst out in random inappropriate laughter over the fact that Trump won, but I’m still not afraid.
I think a lot of us are in a state of grief right now. We’re shocked, confused, angry, sad, everything. And that’s good! We have been lukewarm about our culture, political policies, and place in the world for too long. We’ve given ourselves excuses for our divisive behavior instead of looking for ways that we’re similar. This horrible election might be good for America because we are never more united than when we dislike the same things. And who actually likes Trump in all his Trump-y-ness!? Not even his own party, not even the people who voted for him, and no sane person voted for him because his horrible commentary.
But before we can come to acceptance, before we can get to work, we need to allow ourselves to grieve. Using the Kubler-Ross model, let’s go through her classic 5 stages of grief on this election:
1 – Denial
It started as the classic denial. NO MEDIA OUTLET thought Trump would win, and we believed them. Even as a pro-life moderate with libertarian leanings who votes all over the board, I was prepared for a Clinton presidency. I never even considered a Trump one could exist, even with him as the Republican candidate.
Time magazine compared various outlets predictions, and each one said Clinton. FiveThirtyEight which perfectly predicted Obama’s path to victory in 2012 gave Clinton a 71.8% chance of winning. Even Fox News was not bold enough to predict Trump would win.
I think people were more open to the idea of independent conservative Evan McMullin winning Utah, deadlocking the electoral college, and winning the House to win the presidency than Trump winning the presidency outright by winning the electoral college. I know I was! I wrote him in! (He was very unheard of here in Wisconsin and not even on the ballot. I can’t even find how many votes he got in Wisconsin. Clearly, I’m the ultimate hipster over here.)
The Associated Press predicted this:
But Trump won.
I was at a bar with my friend who leans left in a very liberal part of town election night. As the coverage rolled in and we had a “Key Race Alert” every five minutes, we kept hearing about Florida. Even after over 80% of the votes were counted, it was in a dead heat. The host on CNN kept clicking in and out of the counties. I noticed the ones that were in gray (still counting) were in the Panhandle, a normally very conservative part of Florida. It was then I first realized, Trump could win.
And win Florida he did. Being in Wisconsin, I had never even seen the media discuss the possibility of him winning here. Everyone was marking us blue and as clear win for Clinton. Even with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan up for re-election in Janesville and having RNC chair Reine Priebus as Wisconsin’s Republican Committee chair before his current role, I totally believed it. I had seen more Clinton/Kaine signs than Trump/Pence ones in Milwaukee by far. Most Ron Johnson (R) households didn’t have Trump/Pence signs next to them.
But Wisconsin voted Trump. So did Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. And as Ohio goes, so does the election. The people spoke, and this is the 2016 electoral map from the New York Times:
Yes, Clinton won the popular vote (by some 200,000 votes or 0.2%!). Al Gore won 540,000 more popular votes in 2000, but Bush won the electoral college. If we didn’t like the system then, we should have changed it then. But changing the system to popular vote from the electoral college isn’t simple. Plus, you know, the electoral college in the Constitution. We really don’t like to amend that thing. The last time we did it was for the 27th time in 1992 and it involved limiting our elected official’s salaries until the next term… (Have you seen how much these guys get paid!? And how easily they can vote on it even after that amendment!? I can understand why half of America would candidates who want to limit government control, whether it be a hot-tempered businessman or a pot-smoking Libertarian who likes to stick out his tongue a lot.)
2 – Anger
So, this is where we are today. People are protesting. Some of my left-leaning friends on Facebook are calling for Trump to be assassinated, even though that’s the very thing Trump hinted at about Clinton that the press had a field day over. As a country we’ve been told for months to get ready to accept a Clinton presidency, and now Clinton supporters are being told that same thing by the very republic who were warned to get ready to accept Clinton as president. It’s hard to swallow the bitter pill that you’ve told others to swallow.
I’m sorry if your candidate lost. So did mine. Granted, mine had a very small statistic probability of winning compared to yours and didn’t blow a huge lead. If you voted Clinton, but I’m sorry you’re upset. That sucks. I don’t like Trump either.
I can see why you’re angry. I can see why you’re protesting. But stop burning American flags, writing that you want Trump to be shot (though even I previously admitted, it is within the realm of possibilities with the way people are acting), and otherwise spewing hateful things about people who voted for him.
You do realize how much of a hypocrite you’re being, right?
The party preached tolerance, understanding, and love in its campaign, and most of what I see from Democratic voters today is intolerance, no attempt to understand why someone would vote Trump, and hatred. If you want tolerance, understanding, and love, start practicing it. Hate how Trump acts? Stop acting like it yourself. Want our country united? Come to terms with that fact that just like our families, we’ve got that one or two or ten people who are a little racist, sexist, closed-minded, etc. and ask he or she why thinks that way!
I totally get why people are angry. I’ve had very visceral reactions to people trying to defend Trump’s horrible words. I’m not comfortable calling a man who bragged about his ability have various women and some without their consent my president. I’m not comfortable calling a man who has little understanding of Latina culture my president. I’m not comfortable calling a man who disregards the plight of refugees my present. I not comfortable calling a man who has little finesse in discussing issues like race, abortion, crime, etc. my president. It’s not something I am OK with!
But I think we were deluding ourselves in thinking that after voting for an African American president that all of our race issues, gender issues, etc. were solved. And I also think the Clinton campaign was deluding itself into think and advertising that as a woman I had to vote for her. Um, that didn’t happen:
Clinton could not get the white women vote, especially among non-college-educated women. She got a little over 1/2 the female vote. Even among Hispanic women who you could argue Trump insulted the most, 26% still voted for him. If you feel like you’re going to explode from anger at the supposed “sisterhood” who needed to vote for her, be angry. Hate your fellow sister, but let me tell you: as I woman, on some of Clinton’s issues, if anything, I felt like I had to vote against her.
I hate this whole “women’s rights” movement of right now. Susan B. Anthony and suffragettes? Yes, yes, YES! Love those boss ladies!! But birth control and abortion? Are we deluding ourselves!? Yes, I’m pro-life (across the life span, so I’m all about paid maternity and paternity leave, helping the poor, comforting the dying (and not killing them or letting them kill themselves), prohibiting the death penalty, creating working wages, sheltering refugees, etc.) If you don’t want my rant on this, scroll down to the electoral map. But I can’t hold my tongue on this. I’m going through a stage of anger in my grief right now too.
As I’ve discussed previously when Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was going on in the Supreme Court in 2014, having to pay for things is not a war on your rights. And frankly, calling abortion and birth control an women’s right issue is insulting.
Apparently, 42% of women agree on some sort of level when they didn’t vote for Clinton. I know for some people (of both genders, mind you), limiting abortion is the one issue they will vote on. And it’s the one issue that led them to pick Trump is all of his horribleness over Clinton and all her scandals.
If you’re just flabbergasted by that number and wondering how and why, let me tell explain. I hate, viscerally hate, how this whole thing about the government paying for abortions and birth control get slanted as “women’s rights.” I’m sorry. I don’t think getting a medication for free that alters my natural fertility (which I learned is subpar this year at best already), has horrible side effects that derailed a similar product for men, and can even kill me is my “right.”
As a citizen, I have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. I have a right to life, liberty, and happiness. The pill doesn’t help with that. It has a documented side effect of depression. Why isn’t that more of a scandal!? Because it has become my “right” and therefore I must want and accept it to be the woman the media says I need to be.
As a woman I am told constantly by the media, mostly in videos and articles by other women, that I need to change myself and I’m not good enough as I am. How is getting a pill that alters me to make myself and my fertility liberate me from anything? That fact that I’m fertile is good. It means a man will need to consider that I can become pregnant if we sleep together. It means sex will have consequences, and consequences make us consider a behavior more critically. My fertility is not a problem, and it’s a very sad reflection on our country that we consider helpless children the issue.
Birth control and abortion are women’s issues, yes, but come on. Logically, it’s also a man’s issue. I don’t magically become pregnant on why own. Men are essential to the whole pregnancy process. Yet, because of birth control and abortion being widely available, it’s the culture that pregnancy is a woman’s “fault.” Um, hellloooooooo, a man is fertile every. stinking. day. A woman is only fertile a couple days a month. And it takes two to make a baby.
Furthermore, no contraception is perfect. In my line of work, the only time we don’t test a woman of child-bearing years for pregnancy is if she doesn’t have a uterus. We test women in their 40s and 50s. I’ve seen pregnant woman with IUDs and even tubal ligations. No form of contraception is perfect, so stop pretending the pill and IUDs are.
Too, why are we fighting for wide acceptance of birth control and abortion when they hurt women!? Can I just casually mention, more girls are aborted than boys? And more poor women abort than rich ones? Why aren’t we more supportive of women who choose it give birth? If we’re truly pro-choice, why do we as a culture look down on stay-at-home moms? Single women with kids? Single women who divorce abusive husbands?
Why if we’re pro-choice is the only acceptable choice force-fed to me by the media choice to alter my body chemically and physically and have children as accessories when I’m in my thirties!?
I’d have a baby tomorrow. I would. And that makes me no less driven. In fact, it makes me more driven. I’m going to graduate school so I can spend more time with my future children, and I’ve become a million times more compassionate and passionate about my work since I’ve become an aunt to the most adorable nephews in the world.
So, please, for the love of my sanity, stop. Stop. STOP. telling me I need to do that or the other thing to be a fan of “women’s rights.” Most of all, stop telling me I had to vote Clinton because I’m a woman. If anything, I wanted to vote against her on these issues.
The world does not need more women who try to be anything else than themselves. The world needs women to be innately who they are: compassionate, particularly drawn to the weak and vulnerable, emotional, etc. We do not need to change ourselves to change the world, and if I see one more thing about how women are oppressed because they have to fork over $20 to pay for a pill that is linked to depression, blood clots, and cancer, I might have an aneurysm myself.
So, that rant is all to say this: I’m all for a woman being president. I just didn’t want Clinton. Lest your anger gets the best of you from my previous rant and you assume I voted for Trump, again, I was the ultimate hipster who voted McMullin, and I said the same thing about Sarah Palin when she was McCain’s running mate in 2008.
America, you’re angry. So am I. We knew we had issues. It’s like the honeymoon period after Obama has come crashing down, and we’re in the 7-year slump in our marriage to each other as a country. It’s going to be hard. We’re hurt, wounded, and very divided. But we need to listen to one another now.
You know why no one saw this coming? No one was paying attention to our rural areas.
Look at a 2016 electoral map divided by county courtesy of the New York Times:
Look at how overwhelmingly rural areas voted for Trump. The people 45+ decidedly voted for Trump (53% to 44-45%). Why? My generation has know economic uncertainty and problems, but the bad economy has affected rural areas a lot more than urban ones, even dating back to 2009. Too, a lot of us younger than 45 didn’t live through one Clinton White House, its scandals, and its attempted impeachment like they did. Maybe the Democrats could have picked a stronger candidate than one that about Americans have hated for over 20 years.
Yes, I’m heartbroken that race relations, international relations, gender relations, etc. took a metaphorical set back with Trump’s election, and I pray he figures out a way to be presidential.
But I think of it all as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
I can understand why a lot of America feels unsafe right now. That’s a very basic need, and I will continue treat my fellow Americans with love and respect, and even more even more love and respect to make you feel the slightest better.
But rural areas are suffering so much that they don’t have the most basic need underneath it: food, water, warmth, and rest. They have been silently suffering for years, and the media ignored this huge demographic. The people have spoken. I don’t like what they said either because it was delivered in a sexist, racist, culturally incompetent manner, but I have been ignoring the plight of the lower middle class too. It’s time for us to listen to them. We need to listen to their anger instead of just our own.
Oh, if only we had a popular vote system. Oh, if only the Republicans limited the original possible candidates to a more manageable number. Oh, if only McMullin announced his candidacy either. Oh, if only Jill Stein know how to campaign. Oh, if only Gary Johnson knew what Aleppo was. Oh, if only the FBI had let go of those damn emails. (They were just doing their job…)
This is classic bargaining, friends. All the “if onlys” and “but ifs” is bargaining. The facts are the facts. That orange man with horrible hair is going to be president.
But keep this is mind. Trump is going to be watched more closely than ever before, and the presidency is not a dictatorship.
I’ve found great hope for our country in reading The Secret Man by Bob Woodward. I’ve always loved the movie All The President’s Men and found the Watergate scandal particularly interesting. But after stumbling upon this book at Goodwill right before the election, I’ve found great comfort in our process.
Back in the Watergate days of the 1970’s, Nixon tried to take over control of all the government, including the FBI. He appointed an outsider who he knew well to be director after Hoover’s death. #2 Mark Felt was having none of it. He assisted green journalist Bob Woodward in his investigation of the scandal, helping him trace a break-in to the Democratic national convention to Nixon’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President (ironically known as CREEP) and ultimately Nixon himself. Woodward and his partner Carl Bernstein worked tirelessly to find the truth, and that truth eventually impeached Nixon, even though he won his re-election in a landslide.
And it took years for Mark Felt to reveal himself. He was previously known as Deep Throat.
No matter who is in charge, there are good people who seek the truth. Trump cannot do whatever he wants. Bush was inhibited by a Democratic Congress in his second term. Obama had his own troubles with a Republican Congress. Even though Trump has a Republican Congress, the Senate and House aren’t stupid pawns who will do whatever he says. If anything, he is a political outsider who will need to earn the respect of his coworkers and country.
So, as I said, Trump is going to be watched more closely than ever before, and the presidency is not a dictatorship. If he assaults a woman, tries to pass rascist legislature, etc. he will be impeached.
Before the election, I was convinced either presidential candidate may be impeached. At least Clinton is clever and could probably avoid it for a few years. Trump is not. Fact-checking Donald Trump has been compared to playing checkers with someone who isn’t very good. And that’s a good thing. Do you know how easy it’ll be to impeach him if he messes up!? Even his own party doesn’t like him that much. Not many of them are going to stick out their necks on his behalf if some wouldn’t even vote for him, including former president George W. Bush!
Donald Trump better be preparing for presidency, because if we’re protesting him before he’s even sworn in as a public and as his fellow colleagues, he has very little room to mess up, which is a very good thing.
4 – Depression
Eat some Ben and Jerry’s. Cry if you must. Shut down your Facebook. Do whatever you need to do to mourn.
But do tell other people how you feel.
Every one of us is scared. We live in a world full of violence, hate, and uncertainty. Each of us voted differently on those fears, but we’re all afraid. I’ve found in my sadness and grief from a variety of other things, you’d be surprised how many other people are going through the same thing when you really dig down and listen to what people believe.
Saturday Night Live did it best in their Black Jeopardy skit and their last Clinton-Trump cold open with Baldwin and McKinnon breaking character to apologize for all the mudslinging. We all hate how horrible this election has been and hate that our candidates are subpar. We have more in common than we think.
Too, come to Jesus!
At work, we sometimes call conversations where we tell people to change their lives (wear a seatbelt, stop smoking, don’t consume so much alcohol, narcotics aren’t going to fix your pain, etc.) “come to Jesus” talks. This is an actual COME TO JESUS rant. Again, if you don’t want to read it, scroll down to #5.
As I discussed in my previous post about Trump, Jesus wants to do more than fix our problems. He wants to change our hearts.
Friends and foes of Jesus wanted Him to be a political savior, but Jesus continually refused. He refuses to be reduced to a political leader.
- Matthew 4:1-11: Satan tempted Him with authority over the kingdoms of the earth; Jesus refused to be reduced to a ruler.
- John 6: People came to Him after feeding 5000 of them asking for more bread; He told them they needed bread from heaven
- Luke 20:20-26: Pharisees, scribes, and elders came to Him, asking if He were greater than Caesar; He told them to repay the government was is owed to it and pay to God what is owed to God.
- Mark 10:35-45: His beloved disciples John and James came, asking for power and authority in His kingdom; He told them they must serve others and not be served themselves
It’s time we realized the government only does so much. But we still have a duty to change our corner of the world for the better.
There’s a fake C.S. Lewis Screwtape Letter circulating the internet about politics, but it is true that if we focus too much on what everyone is doing (or not doing) to fix the world we lose sight over what we have control over.
Fr. Walter Ciszek, a political prisoner of Russia for over 15 years, wrote it best in his book He Leadeth Me:
He may not be able to change the “system,” any more than I could change conditions in that prison, but he is not for that reason excused from acting at all. Many men feel frustrated or disappointed or even defeated when they find themselves face to face with a situation or an evil they cannot do much about. Poverty, addiction, alcoholism, social injustice, racial discrimination, hatred and bitterness, war, corruption, and the oppressive bureaucracy of every institution – all can serve as a source of bitter frustration and a feeling sometimes of utter hopelessness. But God does not expect a man single-handedly to change the world or overthrow all evil or cure all ills. He does expect him, though, to act as He would have him act in these circumstances ordained by His will and His providence. Nor will God’s grace be lacking to help him act.
The sense of hopelessness we all experience in such circumstances really arises from a tendency to inject too much of self into the picture. Doing so, we can easily be overwhelmed by personal feelings of inadequacy or sheer physical powerlessness, by the realization of one man’s semen in significance and a corrupt world. We tend to concentrate on ourselves, we tend to think of what we can or cannot do, and we forget about God and His will and His Providence. Yet God never forgets each individual’s significance, his dignity and work, and the role each has been asked to play in the workings of His Providence. To him, each individual is equally important at all times. He cares. But he also expects each man to accept, as from his hands, the daily situations he says him and to act as he would have him act and give him the grace to act.
What is man can change, first of all, is himself. And each will have – indeed, must have – some influence on the people God brings into his life each day. He is expected, as a Christian, to influence them for good… God does not ask the impossible of any man.
– Fr. Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me
Be sad, cry, mourn however you need to, and allow yourself to have your “come to Jesus” moment whether you believe in Him or not.
If you do, remember these wise, wise words:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The start of the presidency is not the apocalypse. If it were, you’d be dead and not reading this. And if it were, you’d be in heaven with Jesus. Why worry about something that’s not going to kill your soul? Nothing can ruin your relationship with Christ unless you let it.
5 – Acceptance
So, what is this presidency going to look like? The BBC has a great article about it. My personal bright spot of hope is that boss lady Ivanka Trump is advocating for her father to give 6-weeks maternity leave (woot woot!). If only the whole year-long one existed here… Sigh…
But really, who knows? I certainly don’t, and I know only a little about politics.
But I do know our country. I do know our citizens (though I’ve been ignoring the frustrations of a lot of them). I do know our independent spirit. And I do know Our Heavenly Father. And because I know Him, I know in the depths of my heart:
We. Will. Be. OK.
We have various offices of government for a reason. We can show our support for certain organizations with the way we spend our money. We can call our representatives, even if we don’t agree with them, and petition them like we want.
Everyone should take hope in the story of the real-life version of the parable of the persistent widow in the story of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, these sisters made a moral opposition to funding birth control and petitioned all the way to the Supreme Court. The sisters were going to be fined out of existence, but they won. On a court of 8 people after Scalia’s death that was assumed to be liberal, justice was served. The government was going to impose an undue burden on those exercising their religious freedom, and even if you disagree with the sisters, come on. Destroying a group of nuns called the Little Sister of the Poor via fines for not paying for contraception which their Church is explicitly against!? Is that the kind of “tolerant” country I want to live in?
All I’m saying is justice will be served, whether or not we know it.
We will be OK. Research shows we’re each afraid of the other side. As Stephen Colbert said so well in his sign-off to his special: It’s been exhausting and it’s not the ending we expected, but it’s time to realize our times as so much more than our president. Too, as a great op-ed in the Chicago Tribune stated it’s time to accept that the people elected Donald Trump.
Too, it’s time to realize we’re not Republican and Democrats. We’re not red states and blue states. We’re not just our cultural background or gender or beliefs. We’re Americans. Look at how varied and united we can be (courtesy of the National Archives)!
Regardless, most of all, we have a lot of work to do ourselves within the very place we live and the people we see each day.
God bless America. We need it. It’s about time we realized our president is not our savior. Jesus is! Let’s let Him save the day a little. 🙂