The Day After: What a Donald Trump Presidency Means To Me Pt. 2

 

The day after the election I was trying to wrap my mind around the fact that reality TV host and professional blowhard Donald J. Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States. In the first installment of this series, I gave my analysis of why I believed Trump cruised to victory, crushing Hillary Clinton 304 to 227 in the electoral poll. As I wrote in “Only in America”, I was not surprised that Trump beat Clinton. There was an earthquake of racism, anti-establishment, and absolute rebuke of anything that resembled President Barack Obama. Clinton was rejected for being dishonest and a part of a “broken system” and men and women wanted something new.

What confused me was the amount of women that would cast a ballot for man who bragged about sexual assault. While I wrote the reason for 53% of white women voting for Trump is race, I felt that was a little too neat. I began to challenge this theory while having a conversation with two older white anti-racist activists. I asked them, “Why do you think so many white women voted for Trump?” One of the women sighed and said, “Race has a lot to do with it, but there is also this ingrained misogyny that women possess.” Her friend then commented, “They also believed that Trump could get jobs for their husbands.” I thought about that and replied with the famous James Carville quote, “It’s the economy stupid?” The ladies nodded in agreement.

From there I wanted to explore this subject much more. The Day After is a collection of interviews I did with six extremely intelligent women on how they felt about a man who is deemed a misogynist becoming our next President. These women come from a diverse group of race, age, socioeconomic, and faith backgrounds. The ladies talk about why Trump won, how race and sexism played a part, and what fears they all have when he takes office. The interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

Nikkol, Aesthetician

How low are we going to go?

I voted for Hillary, but I will say I was more of a Bernie fan. I felt a lot of pressure as a woman to do the woman thing. I started watching the election results, but as the night went on I became so disillusioned and upset, I turned my head. I quickly realized that my worst nightmare was coming true.

My boyfriend and I went to dinner after we voted. We had a bottle of wine, turned off the TV, and went to sleep. The next morning, I saw the news and started crying. The first thing I thought of were my family members who are Muslim, my father who is a Latin percussionist, all of the Mexican people  I grew up, the young people in this country,  and what we did to them.

I feel like when I was in my 20’s we had Bill Clinton, someone who was talking to me. Looking back on it now, some of it could have been fake, but I liked that Clinton seemed to be talking to me. It felt as if the world was changing; people started to be more sensitive and my generation started to have a voice. Now, with the election of Trump, I feel like we are letting down the generation after us. We didn’t teach them the tools they needed. A lot of young people were taught they don’t have a voice or that your vote did not matter due to their state. We slacked off on our kids by letting them play video games and social media. It’s concerns me.

The dangers of a Donald Trump presidency… my biggest concern is the resurgence of blatant, outright verbal racism in the most casual of environments. I have heard people say “nigger” in an Oakland bar. I am seeing how people treat each other and it is troubling. People who I thought were really nice had no problem posting anti-Islam jokes and memes. Friends started saying things and it was really sad. Some would say, “Stop taking things so seriously” and “Calm down” and what that really means is “Shut the fuck up, I don’t care how you really feel.” People that are brown and yellow, their feelings don’t mean anything.

The only way that I can make any sense of women voting for Donald Trump is to think about the Dave Chappelle SNL monologue. I thought back to a time when I was really broke and my man could not find a job. The idea that he got excited about something and he came home in a good mood made me think about poverty and the impact it has on a relationship. I thought long and hard about what it is to be an impoverished white woman who is uneducated and has a man who is in a blue collar industry. He is totally buying into this guy who has told him he has a future and doesn’t have to go back to school to get his GED. I empathize with those people. I don’t think their decision was correct, but I empathize with that feeling of desperation, and how it must feel to get excited that suddenly there is hope for the future of your family. You’re thinking, “This guy talks a good game and my man is excited!” I seriously thought about that.

In the end, I think it was a naïve and ignorant excitement towards impossibility. It’s like the Cinderella story. Somehow the fairy godmother is going to come and everything is going to be great, and as a woman we all subscribe to this romantic way of thinking.

At some point, we all decided how stupid we were going to be. No one sits in the mirror and say, “I am going to be really smart.” We say, “I did this wrong, I did feel bad about this, and this is what I am going to settle for.” As women, we do this in relationships, jobs, and everything else. We look in the mirror and say, “This happened, how low are we going to go?” And I believe that’s what happened with this election.

 

Hilary, social worker

It felt like an assault on my hopes.

I think the election of Donald Trump is going to reaffirm a lot of stereotypes that other countries have with America, such as us being infatuated with celebrities and egregious wealth. It’s sort of, “America is back at it again.” He is not a good speaker; Trump “tractors” over people and does not engage. I am worried how he will interact with international politicians and activists. At his age and station in life, he cannot be trained, he is who he is.

The day of the election I remember being really busy. I was confident that Hillary would win, so I wasn’t too worried. Later that night I was reading the headlines and was very shocked. I felt a lot of disbelief, I couldn’t believe it. The next day when I found out the results, it felt like an assault on my hopes. All of these things I wanted for this country:  health care, women’s rights, and education were shattered. I felt really heavy, lethargic, and sad. The first thing I thought about were my Mother and aunts and how I wanted them to have their first female President before they pass and I don’t know if that will happen now. That made me extremely sad. There were a lot of people crying at work and displaying all different emotions. Many of my colleagues are non-white queer woman and there was a lot of fear, anger, and disappointment. Maybe my situation is less dire because I am a white lady.

I also experienced a sense of inspiration: many friends started emailing, starting up conversations asking, “What next?” “What are we going to do, what activist work can we do?” From that, a friend created this activist spreadsheet for 20 other friends from college and myself to add and update actions and events that we can participate in to protest his presidency.

When I think about the election, I think back to many of my female mentors and I get a sense that we failed them. It’s not just Trump getting elected but a highly chauvinistic, sexist person who is proud of it.

I am scared that the Trump administration projects legitimacy misogyny. I am not surprised that people didn’t care about his comments, I am just disappointed. I thought that we have risen above that. When you have a world leader who has blatantly said recent comments such as his, how more legitimate can you get? How many times can you stamp the okay on misogyny when your president is one?

I was really disgusted at how many women voted for him, but not surprised. I come from a state that voted for Trump and have family members that voted for him, so I have an innate feeling of how some women voted for Trump. Many of them want jobs, want their husbands to have jobs, and want their children to have jobs. They are military wives and like his tough yet highly ignorant view on the military. A lot of people in small towns haven’t traveled internationally, so America is all they know. “Make America Great Again” really resonated with a lot of people, so I get it. There is also the Ivanka Trump factor: She appeals to a lot of people because she has a beautiful family, is well spoken but not too outspoken, and was looked at as this perfect normative lady. She has her degrees, her husband, and her family. The Trump campaign was able to use Ivanka to appeal to many white women from the suburbs. If you are a Republican and a little iffy on what he has done but proud of your country, when you see Ivanka Trump talk about female empowerment, women being independent, and how her father loves women, that speaks to you. As a college educated middle to upper class woman, you can say to yourself, “I can still vote Republican and support female empowerment.”

I think women need men to be more mindful of who Donald Trump is and what he supports. Maybe you agree with Trump’s foreign policy, his big crush on Russia, and his business plans, but you know what? His opinions on women should be equally as valid, because that is a big part of who he is and will definitely impact the decisions he will be making. Education and especially health care will impact women.

 

Michelle, musician

I pray that he doesn’t get us all killed.

When I found out that Donald Trump had won the election I thought, “This country is fucked.” When you and I were talking about the counts and you said, “I cannot believe he is up by this much,” I was thinking, “serves this country right,” but still kind of laughing to myself about it. I thought, “Nah, she will pull it off somehow” and when it didn’t happen, I stopped laughing. I wasn’t a Hillary supporter, but I never thought this complete joke of a human being would win the presidency.

I think I was in more of a state of shock the day after. Almost similar to the stages of grief. I was grieving for this country. We had made some strides, but to be thrown back decades with this decision we had obviously not made enough. Ironically at the same, while I was sitting in shock, I was not surprised.

I was not surprised because as much support and backing as Hillary had, I still didn’t think a woman would win, not even a white woman. As racist as this country and world is, men and women would rather see a Black man as president than a white woman. Misogyny at its finest ladies and gentlemen.

At this point, we all have had some time to think about Trump winning the election and being our next President.  At first I was upset; now I am feeling that this is something that needs to happen to us as a nation. His being President–elect has really opened Pandora’s box for all racists, misogynists, homophobes,  and xenophobes to come out and show their true colors. And they have already done that. When you and I were at the karaoke bar at Fisherman’s Wharf at the end of November,  and that white man verbally attacked you, I realized liberal San Francisco is not immune to this. We are now at a base level. This country has come very close to hitting absolute rock bottom. The fact that no one in that bar (mostly white) stood up for you, except for me, cemented the fact that people in this nation are either part of the problem, or part of the solution. As I have said many times, non-POC’s can figure out if they are a part of the problem or part of the solution. They need to figure out which one it is and figure it out now.

In terms of the Trump administration and what I am expecting from them – not much. I will do my part in fighting for women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, and health care for everyone  while he is in office. I now carry a stun gun and will not hesitate to use it on anyone attacking myself, another woman, another POC, gay person, or immigrant in my vicinity.  I truly hope we don’t get bombed during the Trump administration. One of my biggest fears is that he will piss someone off from another country, which has already been the case, and they will push a button and obliterate the United States. This is our reality now. He really doesn’t know what he is doing and he has chosen people who don’t know what they are doing. I pray he does not get us killed. I pray God continues to watch over us for the next four years.

 

Karen, anti-racist educator

I devised a strategy for moving forward.

I felt complete devastation. I barely slept. I led a tour at my kids school for prospective parents at 8 am the day after the election and I cried when I saw the kids’ faces. So innocent and full of good and about to be led by such evil. That afternoon I saw high school students marching down Market Street chanting “not my president” and I sobbed. That night, I was scheduled to lead a workshop at my kids’ school to make it more racially equitable. We decided to debrief our feelings about the election instead.

I felt like I had been dumped by my boyfriend: my country. I wallowed, eating ice cream, feeling miserable and despondent. I got inspired by reading about how abolitionists suffered a huge defeat in the 1850’s  but bounced back through organizing, and a decade later President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Slowly I started to regain my footing teaching anti-racism workshops and advocating for police accountability. Our police activism achieved some major wins in December, which bolstered our momentum.

A major turning point was the Oscar Grant Memorial Vigil on New Year’s Day. I wrote about it here.  The speakers and musicians solidified my faith in our strength and the righteousness of our struggle. From there, I devised a strategy for moving forward:

I allocate zero mind-space to Trump, I don’t watch him on TV or on the Internet. I am laser focused on using my energy where I can be most effective: educating others on local issues. I am also intensely engaged with my kids’ school. I exercise every day, eat well, sleep 8 hours and I drink an occasional glass of wine. I am investing in developing my skills and stature. I took a class in Kingian Nonviolence Principles that enhanced my vision for how to organize effectively. I am pushing for a seat on our local Police Commission. And I am looking forward to going to the Women’s March on January 21 in Washington DC, with many of my friends. Honestly, I feel amazing.

 

Porsha, publicist

How did this happen?

The day after, I went to work and there was this depressing, down vibe in the office. I was still in disbelief because I could not imagine someone so racist, so sexist, so homophobic, and a complete bully had been elected to the President of the supposed greatest country in the world. How did this happen? I wasn’t the biggest Hillary fan, but I took the lesser of the two evils and that was Hillary. I cannot believe we are pretty much stepping back to the 60’s. This guy has no remorse. He has been sexually abusive and made sexually explicit comments towards women. How have we possibly have let this happen?

My feelings were a combination of sadness and rage because I was really involved in this election. The last election I shared a couple of articles, but this election I campaigned, hosted events, and educated people on not only the presidential election, but the local races as well. For me, it was heartbreaking. There were so many thoughts going through my head. Trump really brought out the negative in people. He made it okay for people to openly express their racism, sexism, and homophobia. When you have a leader who has no filter and bullies people, it makes it okay for others. They say, “This is fine. The person running for President acts like this, so I can do it too.” That is a scary thought. Now do I have to watch my back because 1) I am a Black woman and 2) I am a woman? Have we come this far to be set back? There is a lot of disappointment and sadness, especially for people like me on issues like Obamacare which is huge for me. Prior to Obama, I couldn’t get health care unless I worked a 9 to 5 and had my medical insurance come through my job for having a pre-existing condition. So it wasn’t just Trump’s attitude towards someone like me, but the policy that will come with his presidency. That day was full of emotion and I cried. As it comes closer to inauguration day, I wonder, “How did this happen!”

During the presidential race, I listened to an episode of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast and it really spoke to why Trump won. In 2008 we elected our first Black president, Barack Obama. To have our first woman president immediately after the first Black president is a lot for the Republican party to accept. With the election of a woman president who was a Democrat, many on the right did what they could to not let that happen, and it just so happened that Trump was the Republican nominee.

I wasn’t surprised at how many women voted for him. It was more of a sarcastic, “Are you serious, really?” From what I know, white women from the south voted in huge numbers for Trump. The thing is, there were all these things Trump did and said and he still got the votes. I just can’t fathom it. To this day I just cannot understand it.

My number one concern is losing access to health care. That is on top of my list because millions can die. Also what scares me is that people are much more open and vocal about expressing their hate towards people that are not like them. You are seeing racism and sexism.. I mean look at Sessions. Is he really considering this guy? He is so obviously racist with the things he does support. I honestly don’t see a positive outcome for anyone that is not a wealthy white man. There is nothing in this administration that will be beneficial to people of color, a woman, or anyone who is not American born.

 

Dara, counselor

I cannot even comprehend what he is capable of.

I haven’t really revisited it since. It felt like grief and a loss. I did not love Hillary and wasn’t a “First woman President person.” I wasn’t over the moon and “I’m with her.” I am mature enough and have seen enough to know what is out there. But the depth and the breadth of it shocked me. That there was so many people that thought a certain way and were willing to take such a risk to just demonstrate their opinion. I know that racism and misogyny is out there, but with this election it was so palpable.

After the results were called we sent the boys to bed. There were tears and conversation. I couldn’t sleep, so I woke up at 4 am to watch the confirmation of the returns. Right before the boys usually get up for school, I woke up John, my husband, and said, “We have to talk about what we are going to tell the kids.” He said, “Sweetheart, I know you are upset, but frankly, I don’t want you to be freaking them out” because I was pretty inconsolable. “I don’t want them scared, because we are going to be okay,” John said to me. I lost it and said to him, “Do not say we are going to be okay to me one time! Our country is not going to be okay! I get it, we are in a privileged position but that doesn’t make it all right.” John took it in and by the time the boys got up, he sat down with them and led the conversation. He told them, “These are the results and there are going to be a lot of people that we know who are going to be really scared and really unsure.” We are in a community with a lot of undocumented immigrants and families. We said, “We felt that with him taking this position of authority, it would make a lot of people  who weren’t comfortable saying awful things maybe more comfortable.” The boys have been raised with the idea that they have a responsibility to speak up and we explained to them that it is more important than ever.

What we see with Trump is normalized behavior that is not acceptable. The normalizing and validation of those behaviors is the scariest part.

I was shocked as anybody about the election. But, when you have been the perceived epicenter of power and things get challenged, this felt like a chance to get back to a way of life that was 50, 60 years ago. I believe that all the changes of the 60’s and 70’s up until now represent an evolution, a positive thing. But if you perceive you are getting marginalized because of it, then you might not have that same idea.

In regards to the 53% of white women that voted for Trump, I think they would have a hard time voting for Hillary no matter who was the opponent. Like racism, there is inherent misogyny in our culture and women can be just as misogynistic as men, so within that 53%, there is a sub group that knowledgably dismissed what he was, as far as what he said about women. They acknowledged it and dismissed it and looked at it as locker room talk and “boys will be boys.” They’re maybe from a generation who think about it that way. I think there is a group within the 53% that voted for him and told themselves they don’t like that, but that wasn’t the job and it didn’t matter enough for them. We’ve seen this all over Facebook – does voting for Trump make you a racist or a sexist?

There is this belief that white women voted for Trump because they were concerned about getting their husband a job. I think it is more basic than that. I believe there is a group of people that have been deeply dissatisfied with the last eight or more years, so I don’t know if they are voting for jobs or just something different. It was a chance to stick it to the establishment, the elitists, and to the academics and tell them they have control and power.

I am fearful that my imagination of the damage he can cause is limited. I cannot even comprehend what he is capable of and the people he has surrounded himself with will try and exploit the power they have and his idiocy and weaknesses he has. My son will have to register for the draft in three years. Never in my lifetime has it been activated, but I think it would be an easy scenario that we could be looking at. Our standing in the world… I am concerned with Brexit, the upcoming election in France.. You talk about validation and normalizing. I am also scared of the Supreme Court. I may be naïve, but I want to believe there are still checks and balances. I want to believe that there are things that he can do that can be undone. The Supreme Court appointments have a lasting legacy.

 

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6 thoughts on “The Day After: What a Donald Trump Presidency Means To Me Pt. 2

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  5. Romi Hurley

    Hi LeRon,
    I was reading your Immigration article, which I loved , and just caught up on your After the Election articles, which I also loved! I had a thought though- the 53% of white women who voted for Trump had other factors at play, in addition to the ones you called out. Race was a factor with Trump’s racist rhetoric being a siren call to people already not ok with people of color, and economics ( hoping for return of blue collar jobs for their husbands) was a factor too, A person’s region, education level, degree of organized religion, and the news they watch played a role as well. As a college educated, liberal, secular with Buddhist leanings, pro-birth control (which planned Parenthood provides), white woman who grew up on the West Coast with people of many races, nationalities, and sexual orientations, who reads NPR, I would never in a billion years vote for Trump!!! But a white woman who grew up in a Midwestern or southern state, who attended a fundamentalist church and heard them vilify Hillary & the Democratic Party for promoting Planned Parenthood and abortion, who watched Fox News and heard them rail against Hillary for her emails & Benghazi ( even though these were non- issues for anyone who was aware of the hypocrisy of Republicans calling her out for these and giving George W. a pass for his national security and foreign policy debacles), and for women who grew up in homogeneous communities with no exposure to people of other races, ethnicities, or sexual orientations, a vote for Trump was a given. They would never in a billion years vote for Hillary or any ” liberal Democrat”, which is really ironic since real Democrats called her a DINO- Democrat in name only , due to her Wall Street ties and favoritism to corporate America. Only her pro- choice stand was liberal, but she was forced by Bernie to take a step to the left after the primaries and discuss debt free college and corporate tax breaks. This liberal/ conservative factor was very much in play too. Even white women I know who grew up on the West Coast but see the Dems. as the party of ” big govt” and the Repubs. as the party of ” limited govt.” still voted for him too. As a Sociology major, I am always interested in how society’s norms impact and influence the individual, and here you can see there are two societies and cultures in America today influencing how people vote. Race is a big part of that, but not the whole story.

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