Three Days Later on Veterans Day

WARNING:

This post contains political statements that are solely mine.

This post is the draft that I started to write in my head during the night that followed Election Day. With not enough sleep I’m afraid I can’t do much better than that.

At least, I’m  glad to post it on Veterans Day, also Armistice Day.

Thank you, men and women for your service. May we all work toward peace on earth.

photo(27)

Early summer my husband bet that Donald Trump would win the presidential election.

For immediate and full disclosure: nobody in my family sent Trump to the White House.

Back in June, unlike two of my kids, I refused to bet. For two reasons:

  • I never win any bet.
  • I was 100% positive that Donald Trump would never ever be elected POTUS.

But.

On Tuesday might, as the states fell one by one, turning our map red as blood, I had to admit that my husband had been right.

By the way, as competitive as he is, he isn’t particulary proud of his accurate prediction. But why has he been right and why have I been so wrong?

Unlike me my husband has an analytic mind, he loves reading numbers and studying statistics. But much more importantly he wasn’t blind and deaf during this gruesome campaign.

Some things he told me all along:

  • The liberal media ridiculize Trump? He’ll gather more votes.
  • Hillary Clinton talks down to his supporters? They’ll get stronger.
  • Another million from an elite fundraising event in California? People will be angrier.
  • People don’t brag about supporting Trump? They will still vote for him.
  • Hillary Clinton remains a Clinton. People will vote against a dynasty.

Yeah, yeah, I said, while I should have paid more attention. For example, when I noticed the relative absence of bumper stickers, so uncharacteristic for Americans during a presidential campaign. When I was a recent immigrant I analyzed such things. In fact, when I was new to this country I observed and listened. I still have to find better tools when it comes to “learning” a new country.

Sadly, as I considered myself fluent in all things American, I became complacent. I stopped observing and listening. And I missed the sick and tired who didn’t trust the government anymore, who were fed up with Washington establishment and ready for anyone who wasn’t from there.

Yes, there are racists who voted for Donald Trump.

Yes, there are mysogyns and xenophobes, and even sexual offenders among his supporters.

Yes, there are entitled people who don’t think that caring for the most vulnerable is the right thing to do.

But I’ve met these kinds of people everywhere.

And there are also the men and women who have lost trust in their own country. And I feel deeply for them.  I am from a French middle class family. My dad drove buses and trucks. My mom sewed from home. I know the value of work and money. I know the fear of missing a payment. I know the feeling of being less than others. These American people who’ve lost jobs, houses and more importantly dignity deserve attention. Yes, they do. And I understand why they stopped believing in both parties.

We aren’t talking Democrats versus Republicans anymore.

Tuesday night half of our country flipped the bird to both parties.

That’s why I refuse to spend the next weeks, months and years trying to guess who voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

One out of two Americans voted for one or the other.

Divided we are. United we must stay.

photo-9San Antonio, Texas

Some things I’ve read and heard since Tuesday night:

  • Some people consider moving abroad.
  • Some want the right to secede.
  • Others claim to be ashamed to be American or to have chosen the naturalization.
  • Others don’t accept Donald Trump as their president elect.
  • More despise his values.
  • A few compare their post-election shock to 9/11.

Deserting my adoptive country and building another kind of wall between Americans are the two last things on my mind. Unity remains my flag.

The night before Election Day I wrote on my Facebook page that I chose to become an American citizen because of America’s big heart. And for the right to vote.

I would write the exact same words today.

I’m not ashamed of being an American citizen.

I’m not ashamed of my adoptive country.

I’m ashamed of my blindness and deafness.

Unlike we amend our constitution and change our electoral system, this election wasn’t stolen and is legitimate.

How could my values ever meet his?

I am a woman who has lived her fair share of sexual harassment and some.

I am an immigrant who knows what it is to start everything from scratch.

I speak with an accent and know what it means to appear different and thus suspicious.

I’ve been labeled “alien with a pre-existing condition” when I was pregnant and shopped for a health care plan. So I cried tears of joy when the infamous pre-existing factor was finally removed from the health care plans policies.

I believe that we should not thrive to leave properties, stock options, gold, and any other form of material possessions behind us but a healthier, more equal and fair world to every child of this world.

I believe that a house is not something we flip for a quick profit, that we describe with financial words, but a home where we gather our families and friends to share food and dreams and laughter and tears and offer unconditional support.

Natural beauty moves me, and I cannot think of a world where children wouldn’t feel the warm arms of nature hugging them, only because we’ve treated our planet ruthlessly and greedily.

Lastly, I cannot compare 9/11 to this post election. We had little knowledge to anticipate terrorist attacks of that magnitude. But we had ample evidence to predict the results of the presidential election. If only we had watched and listened.

There is, however, one common trait between 9/11 and our post election that I’ve witnessed since Tuesday night.

From Tuesday to Thursday I was in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas and in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s hard to find more contrasts than between the picture-like San Antonio canals and the sprawling frontier city of El Paso or still the posh Old Town Scottsdale. And yet, despite these striking geographic and socioeconomic differences, all the people I saw over these few days whether travelers or locals were particularly courteous and kind. Cynics would say that everyone is now wary of one another. What if people only wanted to show they have each other’s back again? Like we did after 9/11.

Because it is now clear to me that we stopped having each other’s back a long time ago.

Half of the country has just told us so.

photo-10Scottsdale, Arizona

I was wrong to dismiss my husband’s prediction. I was wrong to limit myself to the media that only confirm my own opinions, to the radio stations that preach to my choir, to stay in my comfort zone. And my husband was right to read more than the New York Times, to go beyond the numbers and statistics, to listen to these talk shows that he hates as much as I do, to acknowldge every single state of the union, and to recognize the right to anyone to feel left out and ignored by the people who govern us.

Gosh, he would have been a terrific asset to the Clinton’s campaign.

Only few predicted who would be the next president elect. If they had been louder about their prediction would have it changed the outcome of this election? Heck, I didn’t believe my own husband.

img_2666Border between the US and Mexico in El Paso, Texas

On Sunday I will see my college boy, American-born citizen, son of immigrants, millennial, first time voter.

I expect questions.

I owe him reassurance.

We remain the land of the free and the brave, I will tell him.

We enjoy freedom of expression and have the duty to exercise it, I will tell him.

If we witness despictable political decisions and violence against anyone, we must speak up, I will tell him.

As Americans, I will tell him, we remain the envy of the world for our unique ability to learn from our mistakes and for our exceptional compassion toward others.

We are still Americans, I will tell him.

As for me I pledge to observe and listen. As I did when I was new to this land.

P.S. Désolée, mes amis français, je n’aurai pas le temps de vous offrir une version française de ce billet. Vous ne m’en voudrez pas, n’est-ce pas ? Le suivant est bilingue, promis.

P.S. #2 My husband is making more political predictions. And I love these.

Comments

  1. It’s hard to’compare a country with another, and hard to understand from outside. We had a very emotional reaction in the uk, because it was June 24 all over again for both side of the argument, even if the American election has no relevance whatsoever to our current situation. We feel strongly too, because we are already experiencing day after day some of the ideas promoted by Trump. And it is not pretty. I am sure it would not go that far in America. Both situations, both countries are totally different, but we are so lost, we were looking for a sign, any sign.

    • You are right, though, to compare the brexit to the American election. A similar segment of population made a similar choice. I understand the pain and worry of many men and women who’ve lost jobs and see factories move abroad. I feel their anger when no parties ever listen to their issues. Sadly, I don’t think that Donald Trump is the answer. I also believed that in the end American people would realize that the inflammatory comments of Trump were so much against American values. But the other party had not the best candidate to offer and people simply expressed their anger with the establishment. Thank you anyway for your comment and concern. See you on your blog.

  2. It is interesting you should mention the lack of bumper stickers. I had noticed that too. I saw one bumper sticker for Hillary, and another for Bernie Sanders during this whole campaign. What boggles my mind is how badly people are behaving in cities, protesting about the election outcome. None of us saw it coming, but what is done is done. And as a Veteran, who has spent most of her life defending our right to democracy, I do not understand this behavior we are seeing in Portland, Seattle and all the other cities protests are occurring. It is very disheartening. And everyone was so worried what the Trump supporters would have done, had he lost. I am not sure I see in difference with the way the Clinton supporters are behaving.
    I enjoyed your post immensely!!!

    • Ditto what SD Gates said. I, too, am a female veteran who believes in this country and what it stands for. We voted. It was fair. What’s done is done. Let’s work on healing this country now and listening to everyone who has something to say.

      • Thanks to both of you, SD Gates and Jen, for your thoughtful comments. I also agree with you about the protests. We have an electoral system that is the same for every candidate and we should respect the results when the people have spoken. The vote expresses the legitimate concern of many men and women who want to work and live decently and have been ignored for too long. Sadly, some people with a less respectable agenda have also voted for Trump. But I’m with you on the danger of protests. Thank you again for your time reading my post.

  3. j’espère que ton mari dont les predictions semblent se concrétiser est dans le vrai alors. Comme toi, j’ai vu aussi Michael Moore comme un oiseau de mauvais augure … il avait les mêmes analyses que ton mari. Oui c’était bizarre de ne pas voir de bumper sticker de panneaux etc .. mais quand je me rendais dans la foule de la campagne, je sentais que derrière les sourires, il y avait cette intention. Il ne faut pas aller très loin pour sentir le tier monde que ce soit en californie ou au Missouri.

    • Je ne voudrais pas jinxer ses prédictions… Mais je garde espoir.
      Mais tu as raison, en effet, que ce soit en Californie ou dans le Maine, dans le sud ou dans le midwest, il fallait être aveugle pour ne pas voir le désarroi de tant d’Américains. Visiter notre pays comme j’en ai souvent l’occasion me l’a permis et je partage leur douleur et colère. Mais je ne pensais pas que Trump serait leur réponse. Il aura visité chaque état et même plusieurs fois, aura su utiliser un vocabulaire limité qui favorise quelques mots clés percutants. Et le résultat est devant nous maintenant.

  4. What you just said is great and I agree with most of what you said and mention, many didn’t think or wanted to believed that Donald Trump could win, and he did. Now what I fear is that US the the big “flagship” of our modern democracy on our 21st century. I admit I don’t want to have all those same results in most european countries because we would just go over to some choices because we are just disappointed about how politics deal with our social & economical situations right now. You ‘ll have 4 years to live right now I just hope everything will get better in the US and not worse and the US A won’t cut off itself from the rest of the world because it would be a complete disaster…
    take care .
    Pour la partie commentaire en français j’oserai ajouter que j’appréhende beaucoup la campagne éléctorale en France car même si on a beaucoup critiqué la manière dont ça s’est passé aux USA dans les deux camps je ne suis pas sur que l’on fasse mieux en France que ce soit à droite ou à gauche pour ces élections présidentielles

    • Quand certains de mes amis m’ont dit que je pouvais au moins retourner en France, je leur ai dit que le printemps n’y serait peut-être pas si joli non plus. Pas que je le souhaite. Il y a un ras le bol général et malheureusement justifié des peuples qui se sentent oubliés et pris pour des quantités négligeables alors qu’une partie de la population vit super bien. Cela ne justifie pas le choix d’un candidat comme Trump, mais je comprend leurs raisons. On va voir ce que les premiers 100 jours sont avec Trump. Ils marquent ce que sera la présidence. Merci encore pour votre commentaire et mots de soutien. La France est toujours dans mon coeur et je vous souhaite bonne chance aussi.

    • pareil…Pessimiste, très

      • Certaines des raisons qui ont suscité ce vote ici sont très proches de celles qui feraient voter certains en France. Dommage que l’amalgame entre ceux et celles qui mériteraient une réelle attention soit fait avec ceux et celles qui exploitent cette misère à des fins de pouvoir personel.

  5. This is a lovely, heartfelt, honest post. I agree with much of what you say, but have less faith in how this will shake out. I and many of my friends will be irreparably harmed by a repeal of the ACA. It was flawed, certainly, but to get rid of it completely tells me and so many others we don’t matter. To elect a man who uses the language, and perhaps the actions, of a sexual predator tells me women don’t matter. As the parent of a special needs kiddo, to see Americans choose a man who openly makes fun of the disabled while on the campaign trail? I have no words. Right now, just a broken heart.

    • I so agree with you, Mrs. Fringe. I feel for the people who had lost so much hope that they believed a business man who made millions would solve the American economy and bring them back jobs and their dignity. But I don’t think it will happen.
      And I will always despise anyone who treats the most vulnerable with cruelty and derision. As a woman I found no words to express my disgust and anger when I heard the tapes. I fear for the health care system that took so long to put on the right track. I had hoped that President Obama would go much further. If only…
      I still love my adoptive country where so many good people live. Take care, Mrs. Fringe.

  6. I had much the same sense of the way things were going as your husband, but I didn’t want it to be true. Garry is depressed, but pulling out of it … slowly. I’m shell-shocked, but trying to remember that quite probably this administration will be no worse than any of the other right-wing Republican administrations through which I have survived.

    Several of my favorite bloggers have quit because they don’t have the heart to continue, but quitting isn’t something I do as long as any other option remains. I have had many of the same experiences as you, though not necessarily here. And I’ve also lived long enough to recognize that this too shall pass.

    My best wish and hope I have to offer is that it probably won’t be as awful as we fear and presumably congress will have the sense to not remove medical care without replacing it with something at least as good — and hopefully better. I actually believe the GOP is very aware the ball is in their court. They need to show the world — indeed prove to their own constituents — they really have viable ideas and are not merely a bunch of negative obstructionists.

    I guess we’ll see soon enough. Thank you for not giving up!

    • Your optimism is contagious, Marilyn, and I thank you for your positive words. I also hope that it won’t be as bad as it appears. I fear for the health care. Big time. I fear for anyone who is visibly different. I hate to see a president elect who bad mouths the most fragile of us. But he also used the right words that American people needed to hear: jobs, economy. While the other candidate never did and skipped an entire state when she campaigned. She was done when people witnessed her actions. But I won’t give up on America. A country that gave me a new life. My four kids and so many young great people are our future. I count on them with their huge hearts and smart brains to do better than their parents. Cheers!

  7. judithworks says:

    Well – I hope your husband is predicting a brighter future than now seems to be on the horizon.
    Very nice and comforting post.

  8. Beautifully done, Evelyne. I’ve been though many elections in America. I first voted in 1962. And I have seen many people win I disagreed with, some to the nth degree. But in the end, whoever won was our president. I am having a harder time with this than any of the other elections. For me, it is going to have to go further than saying, well he won, let’s get behind him. He has to prove to me he is worthy of the job. He won with a minority of the votes and voter turn outs were very low. It is up to Trump now to heal this nation. The buck stops with him, as Harry truman used to say. He has to somehow not only respond to the disaffected people who voted for him, and it is very important that he does, but he also has to reach across the aisle to Democrats and build an effective coalition that cares more about the good of our country than they do for their ideologies. Anything less, especially if Trump were to implement some of his more onerous policies, will tear this nation apart. –Curt

    • Well said, Curt. He promised jobs, that’s one thing. Working with others is another story from someone who has been pretty selfish in my understanding. And so impulsive that he seems to move ahead pretty quickly when things don’t go his way. Governing the US is not building a casino. But I agree that he has to show us how he intends to work before we give up. He knew for sure how to speak to people. But as we say actions matter more than words. In any case, our nation is split and each of us needs to remember than compassion is always better than racism and xenophobia and sexism and homophobia and hate. I pledge to do my best to keep any open mind and heart. Thank you again for your wise words based on your long experience with this land.

      • There isn’t much time, Evelyne. And the people he is gathering around him aren’t supportive of healing things. But I will keep my fingers crossed, and toes. I saw where is is still talking about deporting 3 million people. That would create chaos. –Curt

  9. A very thoughtful, moving and wise perspective Evelyne. You go behind the headlines to get to the heart of why this result happened and your own experiences bring more layers to your thoughts.

    • Thank you, Andrea. I’ve been very lucky to live in different parts of the USA and to travel extensively through most states (Alaska is still on my bucket list), so it is impossible to not see the deep inequality between people and to not feel for them. Obviously neither parties cared for too long. An outsider as ill suited as he is appeared like a savior in desperate times. It’s time now to heal and reunite. Mostly to find solutions to the unemployment of too many men and women. Hopefully the progress we saw over the last eight years won’t stall. I still trust people to watch carefully and act with the intelligence of the heart.
      Thank you in any case for your time and comment, Andrea.

  10. Evelyne, your post and observations sums up many of my thoughts. However you should never aplogise for the statements you make. I and others may not agree with all of them but I will always respect the opinions of others even if I disagree with them and they can argue their position, as you most eloquently have here.

    There are similarities between the presidential election here and my country’s Brexit decision. On the one hand you can consider it as a protest vote by a vast swathe of the population who feel that they have been neglected and ignored by Politicians, who see their blue (and white collar) jobs disappear overseas, to be replaced by poorly paid, part-time jobs with no benefits. So I can almost understand why a candidate who promised to bring back their well-paid jobs and associated benefits. However, those jobs aren’t coming back – although I gear there’ll be some new construction positions down south soon – and even if they were, those manufacturing positions will be replaced by robotic assembly (we already see this in supposedly low-cost China). In addition, those who voted for this dream, bizarrely live in those states that repeatedly elect Republican-led state governments which go out of their way to curtail the very organisations that ensured that previous generations of blue collar Americans had access to those jobs in the first place – unions.

    But there is something far more serious at play here and something that has become apparent as a result of Brexit – the reassertion of nationalistic fervour, old school racism and blatant xenophobia, one which Trump encouraged. The hatred towards “them” who’ve taken what jobs are available – and I write this as theoretically one of “them” – you can replace the UK’s “Poles” with “Mexicans”(although it always makes me laugh – or more accurately sigh – when anyone south of the Rio Grande is referred to as a citizen of Los Estados Unidos), the demonisation of a human being based on religious beliefs – just replace “Muslims” and “Islam” with “Jews” and “Judaism” to understand why this is so frightening.

    I fear that we will see this worrying trend repeated in next year’s French presidential elections and the rise of the Front National and the odious Marine Le Pen.

    However, there’s another worrying factor here – and a gallery that Trump again played to – that fundamentalist religious right-wing underbelly of vast swathes of the US that is all to willing to trample over and discriminate against a person based upon their gender or sexual orientation.

    Of course there is an argument that this is the democratic will of the people. A democracy that sees a candidate win the popular vote yet still not be elected president, a democracy that ensures that jerry-rigged congressional districts will for the most part remain red or blue, a democracy that tries it’s hardest to supress voter rights to supposedly crush voter fraud, even where none occurs. A democracy where money talks (on both sides) and the will of the people is subverted by the money trail and PACS of those who really run the country and shape policy. A country whose democratic system is fundamentally broken.

    After the announcement of the Brexit referendum, as someone who saw his citizenship of Europe in tatters, I began to seriously consider applying for US Citizenship – for all its flaws. However, just like Brexit, the election lays bare a country fractured and divided, a country where worrying traits we thought were banished more than 70 years ago have resurfaced. A country that has voted for its own short-sighted interests to the detriment of the wider picture. A country I fear will not be healed anytime soon. A country – and I say this with more than a tinge of sorrow – whose flag I fear I could know not swear allegiance to and believe that oath.

    • Thank you for expressing so well my own thoughts. Your post echoes mine in some ways and goes beyond. I didn’t want and couldn’t go for pages. But I so agree with you with the danger of populism. And of course I will never understand and accept that some people based on religious befliefs would treat another human being with hatred. Compassion for our fellow human beings seems to me (the agnostic) the basis of faith. It’s certainly my belief.
      It is indeed deeply saddening to witness such choices. The only positive aspect (if I can call it positive) is how this American election is allowing so many people to finally speak up and stand up against racism, xenophobia and sexism and any other form of hatred.
      Both the Republican and the Democratic party carry a huge responsability in this election. The first party for allowing too many candidates during the primary. The second for cheating during the convention and pushing H. Clinton while she was a very disliked candidate, even for many Democrats and certainly for many Independent voters.
      Again, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your sincere words.

  11. I appreciate your perspectives here. If you decide to share more of your husband’s predictions, I want to be alerted.

  12. I would not have bet against your husband. There is too much anger in this country (perhaps the world) and our President-elect played to that anger when it would work for him. My only hope is that some of his rhetoric was a tactic in a game that he ultimately won.

    America will survive. We have survived worse, and we have foundered under better. Many of the things he says he wants would be good things to achieve, despite the apparent rationale for achieving them. Hopefully, clearer minds will prevail and the people in Washington will remember the people who sent them there.

    • My husband in fact agrees with you, Dan, on the tactical part that the President-elect played. His goal was to win. Now that he did win, he still has to get a team together and these people will be the ones in charge. So, yes, I hope that some of them will remember that together, unified, we are better people. I’m still fairly recent here, in comparison to you for example, so when you write that America has seen worse, I rely on your experience to believe that we will prevail over the horrible values preached to win a vote. Our anger should be targeted toward both parties that in different ways forgot about their real job and used the people to get through their own agenda. Only one could win, but both are equally responsible in my opinion.

  13. I read this the day you posted but was unable to collect my thoughts to respond. I have been feeling anger, sadness, and lots of disappointment.
    So how to respond? I think we need to be kind and generous to fight the hate and greed.
    Have you ever read the prayer of St. Francis? I am taking it to heart.
    Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy…

    • We are going through a challenging period of time. And yes, I agree that kindness remains the most powerful tool. And intelligence to forecast and act if the most vulnerable of us are under attack. Take care, Claire. 💐

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