Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When the results of presidential election became clear in the evening of November 8, I was out having a business dinner with my colleagues. My first thought was, What I am going to tell my daughter? After all, we had so many conversations at home comparing service records and qualifications of each candidate. She herself voted in mock elections in her middle school on Tuesday, where the kids elected Hillary Clinton in a landslide. But then, as I was driving home, I knew that this is actually a great learning opportunity - an opportunity to talk to my daughter about resilience.

Going through Stages of Loss

When I opened my Facebook page in the morning, I was stunned by gloating of some of my friends and despair of others. Many people acted as if America had been irreparably damaged by the outcome of this election. They were stuck in denial and anger phase. There was a lot of name calling in my stream and calls to resistance. But... wait a second. What are we showing to our kids? That we only respect democracy when elections go our way? That we cannot lose with grace? That one person in the United States is as all-powerful as the pharaohs of the ancient world? That we despise people who hold different political views? This is not what I want to teach my daughter.

Looking for the Silver Lining

No matter how many times we repeat that America is already great, it is not true. America (and the rest of the Western world) face a lot of challenges. Americans want change, and they went with a candidate that had a change platform, just as they went with Barack Obama in 2008. I actually consider this desire for change a good thing.

These elections also proved that American voters don't care that much about personal life of their candidates. Just a few elections ago someone who was twice divorced would be unacceptable to religious voters. Now they did not bat an eye - not just at the divorce, but also at the allegations and even at direct proof of sexual misconduct. I don't know what it says about Christian values, but they definitely did not hold as much sway in this election as they did in years past. 

Many people are upset that Hillary Clinton did not break through "the glass ceiling". But do we really expect women to vote on gender lines? Isn't it insulting to our intelligence to claim that women who did not vote for her are not supporting women's rights? I personally think that America will be more than ready to elect an inspiring and strong woman to lead them, as proven by the fact that Hillary still won a popular vote.

Reinforcing the Message of Hope

Before elections, we discussed (and not in jest) the possibility of moving to Germany as both my husband and my daughter are citizens of Germany. We had to reassure Smarty that we are not planning to pack our bags right away and that we have no intention to rip her out of school in the middle of a school year. Our communities did not change overnight because "the other guy" is moving into the White House. Our personal values did not change. Our friends did not change. It will take significant time (and will require significant efforts) for a new President to change our laws to something that we don't agree with. And, even if that happens, states still have a lot of power, and we happen to live in liberal California. So, while our move to Germany is still a possibility, it's our personal situation that would be more of a trigger here rather than who is elected to the White House.

But... It's All White Privilege Talking

I've seen posts on social media in the past week lashing out at "white privilege",  saying that we cannot understand how it is to be concerned about our personal safety, because we don't experience harassment and aggression. Well, I am a Jew who was born and raised in an anti-semitic Soviet Union. These fears are not foreign to me. They are not foreign to my parents who, by the way, always vote the opposite party line and supported Trump in this election. But I never locked myself in the group of people who are all having the same experiences, so we can fan each other's fears even more. I had and still have a diverse circle of friend who share the same values. We would stand for each other in face of adversity, and we will stand for people who feel personally threatened by election results... if they do not push away our help.

The Lesson My Daughter Taught Me

I had a speech prepared for my daughter when I came to wake her up in the morning. But I did not need a speech. She just asked who won the election, and I told her. She said, "It's OK. When I vote in 2024, we will do better.". And this is really all that we can wish for - the generation that will do better than us, that will be willing to make necessary sacrifices and that will really make America a great country to live in for all citizens and not just for selected few.

Your Turn

Are you "returning to normal life" following the elections or will your life change now? In what way?

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JL said...

I want to return to life as normal but already my friends and their kids were confronted with racial slurs in CA of all places! I am scared for the minorities in this country. I wish the Republican Party ran a campaign on jobs for middle America. If so, there would not protest. It was the fact that they ran on fear, racism, sexism, and even made fun of people if disabilities. That is what people are fighting plus the fact that he's unfit. Hillary made a mistake to expect women to vote for her because she's a woman. She thought women understood history and how hard women had to fight for equality. It was lost on many due to propaganda and lies. We will need resilience more than ever. It's not a normal election and it won't be a normal governance. I feel for all Americans for it's not about whose candidate won or lost (I wish it was so simple) but about people's lives that will be lost on both sides of the party lines. No matter who won, the racial slurs and the rise of KKK has opened up a pandora box.

"The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people."

JL said...

Sorry for the typos. Also, read this article in entirety.

JL said...

This article helped me understand where all this hate is coming from. Wished there was a way to help them understand we are not their enemies.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I think we need to watch really carefully to see where this campaign goes. I actually know people who voted for him, and they somehow convinced themselves that it was the media creating all of the negative sides of Trump and that that is not how he really is. I don't know how they did that given that the things that bother me the most about him are things he himself has spoken about doing and things he has said.

JL said...

I agree with you, Maryanne. There are conspiracy videos that were completely fake vs. things he actually said. He used the media, working poor, minorities, people with disabilities, etc. to create a division. The truth is too much to bear, even for liberals. We've elected a wolf in sheeps clothing and the future is unknown. I pray for our nation and the world.

Ticia said...

I've been mulling over this post for the past week or so. I've typed and deleted several different comments, because I find political topics hard to discuss online. There's no tone of voice, and no facial expression so comments meant politely are all too often taken as hateful or angry (by both sides).

I liked how you turned this into a "how to handle disappointment" post rather than a bash Trump (which I've seen in way too many posts). You caught Americans wanted change, whether it's the change Trump will bring remains to be seen. I honestly don't know what the next 4 years will bring.