So it's over and done with. Yesterday was a sad, dark day for me. For as much as I did a media blackout in the days coming up to the election, I was glued to the TV yesterday. Starting at 6am when a girlfriend called me from Maison de la Radio and until C came home from class at 9:30pm. I woke up horrified with Trump's number of votes, and that horror continued to grow as the day went on. To my disbelief, even my own state didn't call the election until yesterday evening.
I know so many people thought it wasn't possible, but I've had this sneaking suspicion for the past six months that it really was. I come from a blue state, and the number of people I've spoke with there who said "I just can't vote for Hillary" far outnumbered the ones who said they could. And the fact that these were normal people, educated people, people who had traveled abroad, people I respect - that is what scared me.
Hillary wouldn't necessarily have been my first choice as a Democratic nominee, but I would have been proud to call her our President and there is no denying that she is by far the most qualified candidate we have had in recent history. And now we are faced with the most unqualified candidate in all of history. But it's done. (Half of) our countrymen have spoken. And we are stuck with Trump for the next four years. So the question now is what do we do? How do we face a president who has complete control of the government and the upcoming Supreme Court Justice nominations? How do we protect those that the Republican party stands against? How do we safeguard all of the progress that has been made in the past 8 years?
These are the questions I woke up with today. I was inspired by both Hillary and Obama's speeches yesterday and they sheer grace they both showed in defeat, but I am struggling with how to respect both the voice of the people and fight for what I believe in. I am scared for the future of my country, and I worry about how we can find common ground. I'm concerned about how I can continue to work with people who so obviously supported Trump - I'm just so baffled by how people who travel as much as I do were still able to vote for him. And what am I going to say to all of our customers abroad? I'm sure with the exception of China and Russia, they are all like WTF?? Plus, so much of our business is à l'étranger - how will Trump's supposed "tariff renegotiations" affect us? And how can so many Americans think other countries are just going to sit back and say "Okay US, you can increase your import taxes, but we will just keep ours the same for you"?? But I digress...
I have no answers to these questions. But I do know we have to take time to grieve and then get back up. I know expats struggle with how to help from afar, but one concrete thing we can do is prepare for the upcoming elections in France. I know many of you can't vote, but the FN is already gearing up to put into place some of Trump's campaign practices, and we can still make a difference in France by having those complicated conversations with our friends and loved ones here. Immigration, le mariage pour tous and fear of the other are just as hot button topics in France as they are in the US, and we can help change that by putting faces to those issues. By explaining how changes in the laws governing them will affect you or those you know personally. By encouraging civil discussion instead of hateful rhetoric. I have had some heated discussion with my in-laws over these very same issues, and it is so hard you guys...but I am making the commitment to continuing to have those discussions with them, as well as with my fellow countrymen.