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I Don’t Usually Write About Politics

I Don’t Usually Write About Politics

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I don’t usually write about politics. There’s so much about the subject that I don’t know or don’t understand, but maybe I should have been talking about it more. I should have written about the things I thought we all agreed on that last night I learned so many of us don’t. Maybe it would have made a difference.

As someone who lives in the Chicagoland area of Illinois, the democratic stronghold of the Midwest that has voted predominantly democratic in presidential elections since 1992, Trump supporters seemed like fictional beings who existed only in caps lock on comment threads. Rationally, of course I knew they were real, flesh and blood voting people with opinions and beliefs, but they seemed so far away, and not just in ideology. They weren’t in my friend groups. They weren’t at my office. They were just the lawn signs out in front of some houses. I underestimated their numbers and their influence.

I was at an election party for a little while last night. There were men and women in attendance, blacks and whites, and even a few people who came to the United States from Russia. There were donkey balloons, and we were all eating and drinking as liberally as our political leanings. I remember the first states to go red were Indiana and Kentucky, and we all shrugged because on election night, some states are foregone conclusions. But then as the night went on, the map was bleeding more and more. A friend and I were looking at the map and doing the math after we left – simple addition to 270 – and realizing what was happening.

On my walk home from the train each night, I pass two houses with political signs. They’re two of the nicer houses on the block and they both have that je ne sais quoi curb appeal. One house has a Trump/Pence flag hanging from the front door and the other has a Clinton/Kaine lawn sign. Every day I saw these neighbors, I thought about how satisfying it would be for the Clinton house when this is all over. There was never any doubt in my mind which of these two homeowners would get to say, “I told you so,” after the votes were counted, and that’s the attitude I’ve had this whole election. All this time, I thought we were just counting down to when Kate McKinnon would parody Hillary’s victory celebration on SNL.

I’m lucky, because apart from being a woman, the outcome of the vote won’t affect my life as profoundly as it affects others. I’m white, straight, cis, middle-class; I go through life basically wearing a privilege Snuggie, but that isn’t true for everyone, and those are the people for whom our votes were so important.

I have a lot of thoughts about people who decided not to vote in protest or decided that this was the time to change the world by voting for a third party, but bemoaning their lack of pragmatism and foresight isn’t productive now that the polls are closed. What demands our attention now is how devastatingly we misunderstood how people in this country feel about women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, minorities, bad toupees, and the color orange.

When I was walking to the train  station this morning, the day after the election, I was looking around at all the familiar sights as if I’d find a clue I missed or a tangible consequence. I don’t know what I expected to see. A geyser of lava. A woman holding an infant and screaming hysterically in the street. I was searching for something that I’d missed when I didn’t think this was possible.

The worst part was realizing that it was the same world, with all the same people in it–I was just looking at it differently and seeing it for what it really was.

4 Comments

  1. trailertrashdeluxe November 9, 2016

    Thanks for this. I live in a red state, South Dakota. It’s painful to see the ignorance, on FB mostly. I think the internet destroyed her chances. Any wrongdoing, suspected wrongdoing, alleged crime by her, all became irrefutable facts when repeated enough online. Friends, who would jump in an icy river to save me, tell me that she would have won “if she hadn’t left a trail of bodies behind.” I’m done with politics and Facebook. I’m going to read and drink instead.

    1. Katie Hoffman November 14, 2016

      Sounds like a plan. Facebook has been a terrifyingly revelatory place post-election.

  2. Samantha November 11, 2016

    Thank you for putting this down into words. I’m also in a blue bubble – California, especially the Bay Area, is very blue and very bubbled. And I felt naiive watching the election results, and heartbroken, and crushed, and incredibly disappointed in that of all the things that were wrong with him as a candidate he still won. It makes me sick. And it makes me sick that the people that are racist, sexist, misogynist that agreed with what he was saying are now emboldened to feel like they can say and do whatever they want to anyone they feel is the other. It is the time to stick together, to rise up above, to be the better people, to fight against the bad and give chances to the good, but it’s really hard right now to do so when you feel so utterly crushed.

    1. Katie Hoffman November 14, 2016

      I know. I was really embarrassed by how insulated I had been from everything, how really all of us were, and that even though it felt like I had done the right thing for myself politically and for the future of the country, there were so many factors beyond my comprehension and awareness because of my own privilege, and that made the victory that much more difficult for me.

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