On the Presidential Election of 2016
On the 8th of November 2016 at 6:30 in the morning, I anxiously made my way to the polling station and voted for the very first time. I proudly voted for Hillary Clinton, a qualified, experienced woman who I hoped I would have the privilege of addressing as Madam President in 24 hours. I knew she was far from a saint. Hillary Clinton has her own brand of corruption and a vote for her would be a vote for the status quo, for the same, familiar corruption. But I'll be damned if my vote was going to the alternative: Donald Trump, the inexperienced, misogynistic, sexist businessman who revealed a hideous side of America. No way in hell.
I went about my day with a cloud of anxiety and nerves hovering above my head. I wanted to be confident that Hillary Clinton would win but I knew it could easily be Trump. He amassed a huge following and that frightened me more than anything; that so many truly believed and supported the discriminatory, racist, sexist, misogynistic, and downright disgusting views Trump was spewing.
The results started coming in at about 8:00pm. They trickled in slowly and I saw that Trump was starting to gain traction. My sister and fiance assured me that it was too early to tell but I had a bad feeling in my gut. Earlier that evening, my father warned me not to underestimate how ignorant and irrational people can be. Why would people vote for a man who said he would grab a woman by her pussy? What woman would be okay voting for a man who is very vocally and publicly sexist and misogynistic; who publicly admitted he would sleep with his own daughter if she wasn't his daughter? Why would minorities and immigrants support a man who declared he would build a wall to keep Mexicans out, called them thieves and rapists, and promised mass deportation? Why would anyone elect a man with absolutely no political experience into the highest office in our nation?
It isn't an unfamiliar set of questions. In the May presidential elections in the Philippines, I wondered how Rodrigo Duterte had amassed so many supporters despite openly cursing at ambassadors, claiming he wished he had had first dibs during a gang rape, vowing to kill thousands of people if necessary to reach his goal of less drugs on the streets, and his history of killing addicts and criminals in the streets of Davao with his death squad without affording them a chance in court to prove their innocence or face justice. I asked similar questions then. How could they elect someone like that? Change, they claimed. We need discipline; strong leadership. 5 months later, thousands have been killed in the streets in the name of Duterte's war against drugs, he has effectively sold us out to China, and he has officially sanctioned the burial of Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroe's Cemetery).
What would America look like in 5 months under a Trump presidency?
By 9:30pm, Trump was still leading and I dozed off, comforted by the words of my friends who insisted that swing states and famously blue states had yet to submit their results. I jumped awake at 1:40am, disgruntled and shaken by an odd dream. Joe's video was still glowing brightly on my laptop screen and he peered down at me while I scrambled to check the election results. Clinton was at 216 delegates and Trump was 268. My hands started shaking and I continued to the refresh the page, hoping it was wrong, praying it was wrong. At around 2:00am, the red bar beside Trump's name extended further to reach 276 delegates. It was over. Trump had won and the tears began to fall.
That was yesterday and I am no less angry and afraid today and than I was then. And I have new questions, questions that I ask with a shaky voice and tear-filled eyes. What happens now? What is America to become? Am I safe? Is my future husband who will be an immigrant safe? What of the hatred, bigotry, racism, and sexism that was been flamed by Trump's campaign? With a Republican house, senate, and president, should I be worried about my reproductive rights? My abortion rights? Gay marriage? LGBT rights? Gun law?
I am afraid but I am also 150% done with bullshit. If this election was anything besides farce, it was a wake-up call and a testament to just how divided and broken America is. I cannot and will not tolerate all the repulsive views of Trump and his supporters and if I can rid my personal life of that, I will. I am all for open discourse, debates, and civil conversations but I will not tolerate rudeness, verbal abuse, cyber-bullying, hate speech, or even people who refuse to see reason and ignore facts entirely.
My mother has always taught me to pick my battles carefully. Yesterday, she reminded me to focus on what's important enough to expend my energy and passion on, issues that will always be there and need defending. She also told me to take time to replenish and nurture myself, to let my anger and frustration slowly bleed out so I am light and I can contribute to being the solution.
So today, I am going to feel whatever it is I feel. I am going to wrap myself in blankets and sit in my anger and fear but I am also going to decide what I will not compromise on, what I will always fight for. You should too.