I feel numb. No, I’m not quoting the 1993 U2 song “Numb,” although the lyric is the same. I am still feeling numb about the end result of the 2016 presidential election here in America. On Tuesday, November 8, 2016 – Election Day here in the U.S. – I used the white noise of the election coverage to help me sleep. It was early in the election, and many of the states’ results hadn’t come in. And, for about six hours, I slept pretty well. Then, at about 2:45am Eastern time, I woke up to Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, speaking. And right below was the heartbreaking caption, “Clinton Calls Trump To Concede Election.” After about six hours of kick-ass sleep, I woke up to a fucking nightmare.
Then Donald Trump came out and spoke to everyone about the victory, and congratulated Hillary Clinton and her family on a “very, very hard-fought campaign” and how “we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service for our country. I mean that very sincerely.” And, at that moment, Donald Trump did sound sincere, the most even remotely sincere I’ve ever heard him sound throughout this whole show. It was all bullshit, and reminded me of what an old girlfriend once said to me many years ago about an old boyfriend of hers, and how he was “sincere about his insincerities.” If you can understand that sentiment, then you’re smarter than I am.
I was perusing through Facebook the night of the election, to see how everyone was feeling, and the momentum for Hillary Clinton to win the Presidency was evident. My dear friend Shawn in NYC wrote, “Eight years ago I was sitting on the couch watching the election results come in holding my then one-month old son. Tonight my eight-year-old son is sitting next to me watching the election results come in. I don’t care what your political leanings are. My son was born into a world where an African-American man was and a woman might become president of the United States. I think that’s f*cking awesome.”
I’ve been a longtime Democrat, and I can honestly say that Hillary was not my first choice as President this time around, though she was in 2008. But there was no way on God’s Green Earth I would even consider voting for Donald Trump. I can also honestly say that, with the barrage of hate Donald Trump was spewing throughout the entire campaign – against Hillary and President Bill Clinton, against women, against the LBGTQ community, against President Obama, against minorities and even against people in his own party – I didn’t think he had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected.
Just hours after waking up to the nightmare of Donald Trump winning the electoral vote, I had to head to work, where one work neighbor didn’t even like Trump but voted for him because she didn’t want Hillary in there, and another work neighbor who was crying that afternoon because Trump won and she was scared. Broke my heart. And it doesn’t stop there. I have friends, many friends spanning the country who are crying and upset and worried about losing their heath insurance, fearing for what’s going to happen to their gay friends and the lives they’ve made with their partners and spouses, and the status and safety of people who call America their home but wasn’t always their home. I have all of those concerns too.
After the election results, in a Facebook post, my friend Shawn brilliantly said, “I think a lot of people who voted for Trump are going to realize (hopefully sooner than later) that they’ve been sold a bill of goods. Hillary will not be locked up; there will be no wall between the US and Mexico; Muslims will not be deported; there is going to be no mass influx of jobs; no one is going to be a millionaire as a result of his presidency because Trump either can’t or never had any intention of delivering on any of these things, and when that happens things are going to get very ugly because there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle now.
“Remember a few years after the Iraq War started and dead soldiers started coming home by the hundreds? All of sudden those very same people who were all for invading Iraq suddenly got buyer’s remorse. I have a feeling that many of those same folks voted for Donald today. Trump was the hand grenade they lobbed at Washington hoping to ‘shake things up.’ Unfortunately, that grenade’s a dud.”
For the second time in five elections, the (incredibly outdated) Electoral College votes have outweighed the popular vote, OR (if you prefer), for the second time in five elections, the candidate people have voted for the most is NOT the candidate that got elected…
That Wednesday morning, I told my dear and incredibly talented friend, Hope, that I was having a hard time concentrating and getting through the day. She said some really kind things that I needed to hear that day (we’re both card-carrying members of the Mutual Appreciation Society).
You know, I’ve never really considered myself as a fighter, and contrary to what I’m writing here in this blog post, I try to be as apolitical as I can, but Hope said to me, “You’re a fighter now, as much as you deny being political. We all fight in our own way. You finally realize that you matter. And now that you know you can be on your path, fight the good fight in your way and be true to you. PS it helps if you get an awesome song in your head. Whenever your coworkers gloat about America’s ‘victory’ [they thankfully didn’t], just start mentally singing ‘Fight The Power.’ Or similar.”
And, for the rest of the day, I did think about select “Fight” songs in addition to the Public Enemy gem, including “(You’ve Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” by those awesome Beastie Boys, Ben Folds’ “Still Fighting It,” “Come Out Fighting” by Easterhouse, “Fighting Spirit” by Madonna (a bonus track from her brilliant 2005 album, CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR), and Pat Benatar’s “Fight It Out” (from her 1982 album, GET NERVOUS). Actually had that one on my mind a lot that day. (“You gotta fight it out with your heart / You got to fight it, though it tears you apart / You got to fight it out, my friend / You got to do it for yourself / You got to say when…”)
About the post-election “fight,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (who remains on my short list to run for President) said, “You can either lie down, you can whimper, you can pull up in a ball, you can decide to move to Canada, or you can stand your ground and fight back.” That’s damn right.
One of the things that bothered me most about Trump’s victory speech and beyond was the sudden call for unity by Donald Trump, when over the course of the past year and a half, he disparaged several groups of people. How can you suddenly have people unite after something like that?! To quote the title of the haunting and surprise 1985 David Bowie / Pat Metheny Top 40 hit, “This is NOT America. The States are no longer United. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the country so divided politically as it is right now. I get it, President Obama and other leaders around the globe and here want to make peace and have a smooth transition between Presidents. But, I’m here to tell you, it’s something else. And it’s not going to be smooth for half of this country.
And this sentiment was expressed greatly on Facebook the day after the election. That Wednesday, Hope posted, “I’ve been reading posts this morning from people I know who voted for Trump. ‘Let’s put differences aside. Let’s stop harassing each other for having different political views. Let’s all be Americans together.’ Fuck that.”
Can I get an Amen?
My friend Shawn in NYC added, “I am so tired of hearing this morning from people who have done nothing but divide for the past 8 years talk about the divisiveness in America and how it is time to come together and heal and unite. Fuck that shit.”
Can I get another Amen?
I’m not sure why, but I waited until today to watch Hillary Clinton’s moving concession speech from Wednesday, November 9th. One of my other co-workers is really taking this election result hard, and he recommended I watch the speech. So, maybe I wanted to wait to share this post with you until after I watched a gracious Hillary Clinton be Presidential, even if the Electoral College said otherwise.
Here are parts of the speech I wanted to share and incorporate into this blog post:
“I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this.
“Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and about building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.
“We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines other things: the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.
“Let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.
“And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams. We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone.
“For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone…
“This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is, it is worth it. And so we need — we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives…
“I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.
“Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap, if we do not lost heart. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary, let us not lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do…”
Last night on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (11.12.2016), Kate McKinnon, who did a tremendous job impersonating Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign, sang (as Hillary Clinton) an incredible version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at the beginning of the show. Afterwards, she said, “I’m not giving up. And neither should you.” That’s Goddamn right.
Apart from the comments by my dear friends Hope (thank you!) and Shawn (thank you!), by Kate McKinnon of SNL and from Secretary Clinton’s speech, these thoughts are all my own. I am friends with many folks who voted for Donald Trump, and I am friends with many (like me) who voted for Hillary Clinton. I put up a simple post about the election on Facebook at 3:25 that Wednesday morning, and I didn’t expect the response(s) I got. I even had a couple of longtime friends battling it out with each other well after I hid the post from my timeline. I don’t like to see my friends going at each other about anything, let alone politics. Politics are not worth losing a friend over. Just sayin’.
In an ongoing effort by many online to break the Internet with love, the next several posts will be dedicated to some songs from 1979 through 1989 that are universally loved to this day. So far, I’ve got songs by Cyndi Lauper, The Knack, Simple Minds, The Clash and David Bowie on the list. If you know of an 80s song that you believe is universally loved still, you let me know. I’ll add it to the ever-growing list, with my thanks.
And though I’m wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ that everything will turn out alright, for right now, I just can’t see it, and for right now, I’m still feeling numb. But, I’m not giving up. And neither should you…
I’m your Benevolent 80s Overlord, Ron Raymond, Jr., and I approved this blog post…