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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.