Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Thursday, November 10, 2016

*Sad Face*

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.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Well folks, today's the day.  Since we won't know the answer until early tomorrow morning (pending no recounts), I'm planning on staying away from the news as much as I can since my blood pressure can't really take it anymore.  I'm going to go to pilates, bake a cake, get some work done and then go to a movie tonight. The 'secret' Facebook group "Pantsuit Nation" is probably the only election-related thing I will look at today, just because there are some beautiful posts on there and they are slowly restoring my faith in humanity.

Bon courage to everyone, and here's hoping for the best possible outcome.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Warning - depressing post ahead!

I don't know about the rest of you, but I feel like my heart rate has been permanently elevated these past few weeks. I'm both waiting for and dreading the outcome of the US election all at once. Mostly though, I'm just appalled by how vicious this election cycle has become. Every day, I wake up to new, even more horrific, ads and insults.  The people at these Trump can they also be Americans?  I just identify in no way whatsoever with these crazy white extremists. 

It has me wondering - have they always been there, lurking beneath the surface?  Or is Trumpism like a disease that's spreading across the US?  I mean, the US is by no means perfect, but the one thing I was always proud of was the people.  I just keep going back to what I was taught in school - we're a melting pot. We're a place where people can keep their language and culture and also be American. We're a country united by our diversity. Where has all that gone?

I also think the media has had a huge role in the negativity in this campaign. What's happened is that they spend so much time on Trump's craziness (and really, there's no lack of fodder), and that to appear fair, they feel they need to give equal negative coverage to Hillary.  And the only major negative thing she's got is the whole email fiasco, which is why we've been hearing about it over and over for the past six months.  I get it's a catch-22 for journalists - really, how can you cover Trump and not appear biased - but I still feel the media is largely in part responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today.

The other issue I have - and C and I actually got into an argument about this last night - is why aren't more people standing up to say that this kind of talk is not normal?  That it's unacceptable and hateful and not the kind of example that we want to set for future generations?  Why is no one saying "STOP. You've gone too far. You can't say someone should shoot presidential candidates, and you can't show up at rallies wearing a mask of our current president with a noose around his neck.  You can't say assaulting women is no big deal.  You can't lump entire religions or groups of people into one basket."  And on and on. Where are all the reasonable people?  I know they're out there. Why are they not saying anything?   Though maybe they're like the Minnesotans in the most recent This American Lift podcast, and they don't dare speak out for fear of offending family and friends. But the other side is not in anyway worried about offending people...

C's side of this was that you can't reason with the crazies, so it was no use trying to talk with them or convince them.  But if that's the case, how does it ever stop?  Where are the limits of society?  How do these people know when they've gone too far?  For me, it's similar to the gun control debate - there's no easy answer and both sides are so heated that they can't have a civil discussion, so we do nothing and people keep getting killed.   But how is that a solution?  I just can't accept anymore "Well you can't reason with those people anyways..."

I feel so strongly about this, and I'm starting to understand the expats abroad who feel the call to go back to their home country to fight for change because things are falling to pieces.  (Though this normally happens in third-world countries, and we're talking about supposedly the "strongest nation in the world" here).  With all the places I've visited, I've often wondered about the countries who used to be superpowers and who are now in ruins.  It was just so inconceivable to me - How did they go from being number 1 to the bottom of the list?  I'm afraid we're now going to see it firsthand.

The worst part is that politicians all over the world are starting to tow the Trump line because they see it brings in voters. It's happening in the UK, the Netherlands, France, etc.  What kind of world are we going to be 10, 20, 30 years from now if we all go back to being isolationist and protectionist countries?  If we only worry about protecting ourselves and not the greater good? 

C thinks I'm taking all of this way too much to heart and that it's not worth the negative affect it's having on me, but I just can't help but feel a sense of despair and a profound disappointment in my countrymen. It's really got me down and all of the above is what keeps me up at night, wondering what our future will be and how I can influence it. I just feel so helpless watching it all happen from over here.

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