Feeling Blue

I’m in Iceland on a work trip with my team. I fell asleep last night with Hillary Clinton predicted to win the election. Our first female president. Possibly the most qualified candidate that has ever run for the office of the president, objectively looking at years in public service and positions held.

I woke this morning to text messages and notifications, all saying that Donald Trump was the President-elect of the United States. Still sleepy, I struggled to comprehend what I was reading. Really? I read more. Really.

I’ve worked on/donated to political campaigns since I was a young woman. I had a shotgun pulled on me as I canvassed for Harvey Gantt when he ran against Jesse Helms in the NC Senate election (and lost). I had folks hang up on me when I called them from a rented storefront in San Francisco in 1992, encouraging them to vote for Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (they won). I had bruises and paper cuts on my arms from passing out signs (so many signs) at the DNC in 2004, hoping that John Kerry would win the election (he didn’t).

I’ve never cried after the results of an election were announced. Until today. Many times. I am sad. And I am despondent.

I believe in the democratic process. I feel so privileged to live in a country where I can vote. I have not missed voting in any election (federal, state, local) since I turned 18 and was eligible to vote. I research the issues, make notes, and vote. I get butterflies in my stomach when I cast my vote. I’m being heard.

And that’s what makes me so sad. That we have stripped the right to vote from so many people in the United States. That their voices are not heard. That only 55% of people eligible to vote actually voted in this election. That almost half of America’s voices were not heard in this election. That approximately half of those 55% of voters who made it to the polls voted for a candidate that has disparaged various groups of people in our country and promised to take away undeniable rights. African Americans. Transgender individuals. Homosexuals. Women. Muslims. Immigrants. This is where the political is personal. I love individuals in each of those groups. These are the people that are my friends, my neighbors, my colleagues. I am despondent because I am fearful of what the future holds. I am despondent that there is so much hate in our country. I am despondent because that hate is what is being heard.

I have not given up hope. I’ll work on campaigns again. I’ll speak out and donate and call and canvas and lobby. Just not yet. It’s too painful. Right now, I’m grieving. Not just for Clinton’s loss, but for what our country has become.

15 thoughts on “Feeling Blue

    • Your question may be in jest, but I have not thought about requesting political asylum. For two reasons. One, I question whether other countries would actually welcome Americans at this time. We’ve made this political bed, so to speak, and it’s our time to lie in it. Two, I don’t believe that running away from the problem will solve it. There’s a lot of work to be done to help bring back the United to our States. I want to be a part of that change, painful as it may be.

      • I think this is why I’m so hesitant to convert my life over to a Vietnamese passport. Local police have told me time and time again that my life would be so much easier if I converted over to Vietnamese citizenship; after all, after 12 years, a family, no plans on leaving, and happiness, why not just change it over? Because it would strip me of two things: 1) my right to vote in the States and 2) my ability to pass down to any children I may have citizenship that grants tons of privileges, for the moment at least.

        Expats are in a bad place. We get taxed (what benefit do I gain as an expat being taxed? Where are my local roads and public schools and healthcare and everything else that come with it?), outside of general elections we have very little say in what happens in the States, there are strict laws around our financial assets, America’s actions abroad have massive repercussions on our lives (MASSIVE; this cannot be understated), and we as ambassadors for our birth nation feel as though our nation gives us little in return.

        What I saw from thousands of miles away yesterday made me sad. I’m a black/white biracial Texan-American with an ethnic minority Vietnamese wife (Vietnamese by nationality, ethnic minority by culture and language) living 8 hours north of Hanoi, Vietnam, and felt the confusion, angst, anger, sadness, and depression all the way over here. The world looks at America in absolute confusion right now. We watched CNN and her eyes were very much blank. “Why would they pick him?” So simple and difficult to unpack for her.

        When you’re outside of the forest it’s easy to see that this isn’t a trend that will stop, at least on an international level. The west is becoming more xenophobic, more isolationist, more afraid, more fearful, more driven by hate and ager, and there’s nothing more delicious to a country than a scared nation. Powerful men and women love fear. It’s how they control us so easily. We have only 9/11 to look back on as Exhibit A.

        I do not pray, but I do often send out little wishes into the world. My wish right now would be for calm to overtake our hearts in times of darkness like these. If my ancestors were able to bear firehoses and dogs, degradation and murder, hate and rage for what feels like only a few decades ago, then this too shall pass. I write this from a country where millions were obliterated by American bombs and agent orange. That too passed. It’s still recovering, but the initial shock passed and the nation is rebuilding, becoming something that servicemen from the 60s and 70s wouldn’t recognize today.

        This too shall pass. Time will heal these wounds like a sweet cocoa butter against the blackest and most beautiful of scars. Beauty will prevail. Mother earth has a way of making sure that comes to pass. I cannot stop thinking this way because if I do it means that they have won, and I’m a competitive fighter. I may end up giving up my rights as an American and joining another nation; plenty have done it to become American citizens. There shouldn’t be anything wrong with doing it the other way around. But not yet. Maybe, but not yet.

        I love you and miss you. And take a hug, here it is. Keep it in a piggy bank when you need it and ping me if you ever need a few more free ones. I’ve got plenty for you.

      • It always brightens my day to hear from you, Philip. Thank you for the reminder to keep the faith, and to remember that yes, this too will pass. It may not feel like it now, but it will. Let’s continue to send wishes into our world for calm and caring, among all. Sending a special hug back to Vietnam for you and your lovely wife.

      • Yeah, it was meant as a jest. Though there probably are some US citizens who wish they were in Iceland round about now.

  1. Dearest Lori … we watched in horror on the island of Maui as this took place. We have survived a lot of bad, but this just might be the worst yet. Everyone here is looking dazed; blinded by history being burned.
    Try to enjoy Iceland. It is a beautiful and magical place. Especially the national museum.

    We need each other now more than ever.
    with love …

  2. Lori – you have so eloquently expressed my feelings. My word today is sorrow. I understand we have work to do to improve the way our government collaborates to make our nation a better place for many people. The pain of so many across the country is real. I understand that many people feel they want change. It simply shocks and saddens me that those who feel we need big change in government were willing to get it at the expense of our American ideals of freedom of religion, tolerance, diversity, inclusion, decency and respect. For me that’s just too high a price to pay.

    We have both traveled internationally (you much more than me), and can imagine the perspective of many others looking toward the US. We all want the same things – security, prosperity, a good life for our children, love, joy, peace. I fear that the relative peace we have enjoyed in the US and many other countries (some we count as “our allies”) since WW2 may be in jeopardy. My friends and family in other countries are shocked that Americans would make this choice. We have sent a message into the world that does not reflect the sentiment of our founding fathers or the key values upon which our country was built. I hope we will (literally) survive the next four years.

    I do celebrate our democratic process, and I believe we need to pull together as a country to move forward. We must. I hope that suddenly Trump will begin to listen to others around him for their experience, opinion, and guidance – if not just for the fate of Americans, but for the fate of the globe.

  3. Thank you for this! I’m slowly working my way through the stages of grief, hoping one day soon to be able to direct my energy into positive change. Wondering how in the world I (and so many of us) could be so disconnected from the widely varying groups that are so hopeless, in their own individual beliefs, that they believe this result will somehow help them. I love you Lori!

    • Thanks, Eva. I’m committed to listening in order to understand where the fear is coming from. What has happened to people personally that makes people think that America isn’t already pretty darn great? Where is this pain stemming from?

  4. Hi Lori,
    Long time no see. Hope you are feeling a little better, it came as a shock to all of us in Ireland too. To be honest, it’s part of a rising nationalism globally, we see similar things in Hungary, Russia, Poland, the UK, China and possibly France soon too. I admire your dedication to the cause, at least in two years there will be mid terms and a chance to begin the fight back. In addition, as many commentator here have said, you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose. It may not be quite as radical as people imagine, one hopes.
    Hope all is well and enjoy Iceland!
    All the best,

    • Hi Peter, it’s nice to hear from you again. The entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are up for re-election in 2018. I hope that within the next two years there isn’t too much irreparable damage done. I want to believe that the future won’t be as radical as people imagine, but I’m not hopeful given the first appointments. Hope you are well.

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