8 Nov

Today, Election Day, I’m thinking a lot about tomorrow. By tonight, we’ll have a new President-elect. Tonight, I’ve decided to stay home. I don’t want to watch the vote tally with my neighbors, and experience my community’s public display of elation or despair. I, like some other US Americans, live—not by accident, but by design—in a politically like-minded community. The reaction of my neighbors will generally be in line with my personal beliefs and emotions. But I don’t necessarily always agree with the expression of those beliefs—including my own expression, which has included intolerance and socially accepted bigotry (about that guy, and those people who support him).

Am I worried about the outcome of this Presidential election, plus all the down-ballot elections, not to mention CA’s flotilla of propositions? Yes.

But I’m also worried about my own intolerance, that I see amplified and reflected back at me through my neighbors, and then amplified and inverted in the voices of other neighborhoods (that are intolerant of us). I’m worried about having gone so far that not only do some of us think the other candidate will never be our president, but that we’ve convinced ourselves that’s an option.

Tomorrow, I want to accept my responsibility as a citizen after I’ve voted. I sense (with admittedly no research or facts to back this up) that too many of us think we vote, and that’s it. If “our candidate” doesn’t win, then we give up, we leave, we go dormant, we refuse their legitimacy, we wait four years. And if “our candidate” does win, then, in eerie parallel, we coast, expecting all of our wishes and demands now to be so, affirmed in our victory over them/those people, shaking our heads at their intransigence, rolling at our eyes that they refuse to get on board.

Tomorrow, I hope I accept not just the outcome of this election (about which I do not feel neutral: I feel everything from the privilege of slightly removed disdain to genuine concern about my safety and the safety of people I love whom I don’t think are welcome in “America, Great Again”) but my responsibilities and opportunities because of what this election has revealed about me, my community and the broader US (that I sometimes pretend I have nothing to do with just because my life can be awfully provincial). I hope that if “my candidate” wins, I can both celebrate the historic election of our first cisgender female president, and recognize the yet-again election of another socioeconomically privileged, heterosexual, white, professional politician—and also respect the anger, alienation and fear at the root of some of the racism, sexism and classism that has motivated and made pariahs of folks on both sides of the political spectrum. Because that’s hard for me sometimes: remembering that a person or group isn’t the issue. And that no one person, even the President of the United States, is going to resolve our issues with one vote.

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