People keep saying that this election is not the end of the world. That’s true, its not. America will endure this chapter in its history as it has endured many others.
But for the second day in a row, I woke to a city in mourning. And while most of this country will return to their everyday lives of political apathy, I cannot run from my feelings, nor should I be repeatedly told that they are invalid.
For the last few years I have had the privlege of living in our nation’s capital. And because of that, all of the elections which took place this week will have a direct affect on my daily life.
I live in DC, I work with the government if not for them, and throughout this election I have had my life and my neighbors (government workers and nonprofit workers) repeatedly attacked. People talk about Washington’s corruption or stagnation but they haven’t seen it from my point of view. Believe me when I tell you the bureaucracy is short staffed, sometimes underfunded, and working as hard as it can.
If you really want to see change in DC, then I suggest you actually change up your representatives instead of sending the same people term after term. Even a radical president can’t fix Congress – that’s your job. But at the same time you must also understand and accept that everyone here, including the ineffectual seeming Congressmen, have a lot on their plate. They are governing a country of 50 independent interests and trying their best to provide for everyone. No matter how hard they try and no matter which way they divide the pie, someone will be left out. There’s a limit to how much can get done before it’s election season again.
On a personal level, this election affects me because of where I live. I’m constantly surrounded by and in contact with the consequences of the electoral process. But it also affects me because of who I am, and how I identify.
My beliefs (and those of 90% of the people living here) have been attacked and insulted. Our fellow Americans have elected and thereby passively accepted a man who used racist, xenophobic, and homophobic rehetoric to gain power. We’ve elected a man who’s been accused of sexual assault, who has been caught on tape and on Twitter saying disgusting hurtful things about the women of this country, and by doing so we’ve said that we don’t care, that we support him anyway. We’ve elected a man whom our foreign allies don’t trust and whom our enemies are laughing at, basically letting them get away with influencing our elections though email hacks. And so my neighbors and I have every right to be fearful and distrustful of what our countrymen have thrust upon us.
Of couse I will honor the electoral process and accept the outcome of the election, but I will also remain vigilant.
In DC, by our mere proximity to power we are burdened with the unceasing responsibility to raise our bodies and voices in support of our beliefs, regardless of when in the election cycle the need arises. In the past it has not been my policy to inflict my beliefs upon others, to campaign or canvas in a way that could disrespect someone’s right to a private vote. But today I understand the consequences of that mistake and I will not make it again.
Though my fellow countrymen have chosen this path, I believe it to be false and I will not wait for the next election cycle to fight back. There is work to be done everyday to ensure the best outcome and secure our future legacy as a nation.
And so I promise to do all that I can to mitigate the damages, to hold people accountable, and to protect my countrymen from the consequences of their choices. Because while I do not agree with them, I love them. And while I do not share their values, I respect them. I afford them now all the love and care that they have electorally professed to deny myself because that’s the true meaning of civic duty, the true meaning of patriotism.