On election night, Erin and I went to Boom Chicago to see an improv comedy show, followed by a nightcap at Gollem, which is gezellig, as the Dutch say--cozy and friendly and warm. Oh, how happy we were, how blissfully ignorant. Little did we know how soon our fates would change.
When we got back to the apartment, it was still early evening in the States, so they hadn't started reporting the returns. We decided to doze on the couch and livestream the results on YouTube.
This was a mistake.
Erin and I slipped in and out of consciousness, the map on the TV screen growing progressively redder each time we woke up. It was like a fever dream, an irrational nightmare bleeding into our reality. And when the morning dawned gray over Amsterdam, when the kiddos jumped into the living room looking for their breakfast, we were forced to accept the truth: Donald Trump had, somehow, been elected President of the United States.
I must admit, it was helpful having cute little kids around. They're completely unaware of world affairs, so they spent the next day being utterly themselves, running around with boundless energy and smiling and screaming, either not caring or noticing that we met them with bleary eyes. They may have wondered why we were giving them so many hugs, or why we cried during Hillary's concession speech.
I'm not necessarily surprised that he won--it was always a possibility. But I am disappointed. Many people who voted for Trump claim that it was all about the economy for them--they don't approve of his racism and sexism, but they felt they would fare better under a Republican administration. I don't think this is a good excuse. If you're willing to ignore racism and sexism (not to mention ableism), you're part of the problem. I'm sad that so many voters care only for themselves and their immediate needs, that they don't consider how others may suffer.
I'm sad for them, too--they've been duped. Donald Trump doesn't care about working people. He cares only about himself. He wants to win, he wants people to cheer for him, he wants the title of President and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it. He'll leave the real work to his cabinet and other advisers--and that's the scary part. Mike Pence's political record shows very clearly that he will work against women and gay people. Steve Bannon is a white nationalist. It's Trump's administration that truly frightens me.
Right now I'm in the process of determining how I can help guarantee that Trump's tenure will last no more than four years. I arrive back in the States on December 13th for the holidays; I'd like to stay at least through January so I can attend the Women's March on Washington.
I'm torn--I love traveling, and I still want to head to New Zealand next, as there will probably be few other opportunities in my life to be equally mobile. Furthermore, if the Trump administration damages America's relations with foreign nations, traveling in general may become difficult. But I also don't want to abandon my country in its time of need. That seems cowardly. There may be ways I can be useful outside of the States, however. I'll have to think it over while I'm home.
If you're looking to take action, Jezebel has compiled a list of places to donate and/or volunteer. If you're having a hard time and you need someone to talk to, feel free to get in touch with me. My body may be in Amsterdam, but especially at the moment, my heart and mind are in the United States.