still reeling

It has been two full weeks of silence in this space. I’ve come here once or twice this week but always leave it blank and unsure of what to say.

Like everyone else, I am still reeling from the election results. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say or that I am rendered speechless. It’s that I have so much to say that I don’t know where to begin.

I have learned volumes in this past 5 days. I have read and read and performed an autopsy of sorts on the Democratic party and the American political process to try and understand what happened. I have read a lot of enlightening things, and I am listing them at the end of this post for anyone who is as hungry for answers and information as I am.

I have learned that not everyone who voted for Trump is racist or misogynistic. They just turned their heads to it in efforts to champion their one or two issues that he represented – guns and abortion are at the top of that list here in the south, but healthcare and steel mills and immigration are on the list elsewhere in the country. I learned that there is a huge divide in this nation between rural and urban. An enormous distaste for the elite and even a bitterness toward academics and higher education that I never knew existed. Until now. The Democratic party will have to fix this to move on. My eyes have been opened this week for certain.

I have been called mean and condescending and accused of enthusiastically “killing babies” because of my major reservations about Trump’s promises. People probably wish I would shut up about it, but I am frightened.

To normalize this election as though it is no different than a usual pendulum swing is not okay. Trump is not a typical Republican, and we all know this. Would I be writing this if Rubio or Kasich won? Absolutely not. The pendulum swings, and I am okay with that. Donald Trump is not a typical pendulum swing. He’s not a typical anything.

Never before have we elected a President with absolutely no experience in public office. None. One who claims if we have nuclear weapons we should use them. Who asserts that he will deport 11 million immigrants, including young students who have never known any other home, and that he will do this swiftly and with force without any regard for how it will upset the civil peace or economy of our nation. A man who has not only been accused of sexual assault but claims that bragging about it is “locker room talk” to be excused. A man who humiliated Meghan Kelly on television and bullied Ted Cruz by publicly threatening to “spill the beans” about his wife’s personal medical struggle with depression. A man who wants more than three million Muslims living in the US to register themselves with the government to be tracked in a database. A man who is currently considering a leader of the Alt-Right movement to be his Chief of Staff. A man who claims global warming is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese and wants to handle the delicate balance of trade by taxing goods that come from there without regard for what implications a trade war will have on this nation.

To pretend we have done this before is laughable. To tell people to shut up and stop being scared is dangerous.

I think the most disappointing thing to me in this election is to watch how the Evangelical Church has handled it. Being a southerner, I am surrounded by those who hold that blend of faith closely, but their silence on these issues is deafening. And their support of him is shocking. I understand that the vast majority of them voted on abortion only and will always vote Republican on that issue. But I guess I was expecting them to have more open conversations on this – to explain that they voted on one issue but are appalled by other things he’s said and most importantly to hold him accountable. Now is the time they could stand up and have their voices heard and be a welcoming voice for the church and a comforting voice to those hurt and scared by Trump’s campaign, and yet I’m not hearing it at all. As someone who grew up surrounded by the church and still respecting and holding dear a lot of people who are part of that movement, it breaks my heart. And it saddens me because I see so clearly that history will look back to see that their silent support of Trump and refusal to openly denounce his hatred will be the end of their relevance and positive influence in modern America. There are voices within the church that are working hard to redeem it – Beth Moore, Max Lucado, Glennon Doyle Melton, Rachel Held Evans – but whether they can speak loudly enough, I don’t know. The whole thing breaks my heart.

I’m reaching the point where I am tired of hand-wringing and sadness and fear though. I want to act. I thought I’d leave you with a link on how to contact your local representative to voice your concerns. I hear phone calls and snail mail is best, so if you are concerned, then have your voice heard.

I also wanted to pass along these few essays which have bubbled to the surface of all I have combed through this week. They are worth a read if you have time.

Christian Blogger Shannon Dingle’s I Want to Help You to Understand My Lament

Harvard Business Review’s What So Many People Don’t Get About the US Working Class

NPR’s Fact Check of Trump’s First 100 Days (calmed me down a bit actually)

Voted For Trump? I Have Only One Plea

The New Yorker’s An American Tragedy 

Video of Christoph Walz speaking on normalizing Trump


Last night’s SNL aired past my bedtime, but I did see the opening song this morning, and Leonard Cohen’s words echoed in a way that brought me tears. There’s a blaze of light in every word, it doesn’t matter which you heard the holy or the broken hallelujah. Even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before he Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah. 

This has been on my mind almost constantly since Tuesday night, and I know it will calm a little in the weeks to come. I’m trying hard to make space for peace and stillness at home. I will do what I have always done but with more conviction and dedication than before: read, teach my students to think critically, model strength for my own children, call out hatred and misogyny when I see it, write, laugh with my colleagues, teach my children kindness, and pray for a culture that has grown so used to sexism and anti-intellectualism that we prefer a spectacle over substance.

I pray that his outrageous promises were just false words to gain momentum and get voters and that it will be like any other Republican presidency. But if we take him at his word, it is a very scary thought.

I’m not giving up. Instead, I’m using this to wake up. No matter how you voted, let’s stop sleeping. Pay attention. Do good. Have your voice heard.


8 thoughts on “still reeling

  1. Thank you Katie, a well written calm look at this American Tragedy. Thanks for the links, will follow them all. All I have done is read and read to try and understand what people thought this man could do for them. I am still confused and very saddened, will keep watching and monitoring his policies. I did just watch Bernie Sanders on Face the Nation, he says he will be watching and monitoring too, I hope so.

  2. I feel the same, thank you for your thoughts, I am a dual British Canadian and I am feeling sad about the result as are many internationally.
    Robert Reich former secretary of labor in Bill Clinton’s admin has posted some great thoughts encouraging us to resist cynicism and to organize and get politically engaged to improve the world, starting in the USA. He advocates unity and peace but working together in a new coatition politically. His documentary “Inequality for all” is currently available on Netflix and enlightened me over the gap between the rich and the poor. He has an informative blog on Facebook and on Twitter if anyone is interested in a positive outlook for change and reforming the system to make it work for all Americans.

  3. Wonderfully said. The world is frightened. From my house here in Australia, I mourn for what has happened to our former home, a country I love dearly. I know my friends are very very scared. And rightly so.

  4. Everyone who votes Republican simply to overturn Roe vs Wade should then have to adopt one of these unwanted babies. Dictating what a woman can and can’t do with her own body is a form of slavery. And despite what our president-elect said, no one is getting abortions “days” before their due date. I wish common sense was as rampant as willful ignorance.

    1. Yes, the “days before birth” lie infuriated me. I get that people are passionately against it. I don’t love it either. But without social programs to safeguard young women against financial despair, the pro-life movement is so empty to me. That’s pro-birth, not pro-life.

      The same crew screaming about abortion evils is the group saying that “welfare queens” have babies just to get government checks and insurance shouldn’t have to pay for birth control. How is that not in compete opposition to wanting women to keep babies? It is sad and hypocritical to me. Statistically speaking, abortion rates were LOWER under the Obama administration than they have been since Roe v Wade happened in 1973. So the idea that making it illegal is the only way to fix it is so unrealistic to me. We have to use common sense if we want to lessen them.

      More than that though, I am just so incredibly disappointed at the silence of the church on Trump. If you choose to vote on one or two issues but have MAJOR reservations about his sincerity, his moral character, and his temperament, be honest and stay on him. Follow his choices, make phone calls to your representatives, be vocal when he does something you disagree with. I heard Christians having major reservations on him when the primaries happened, but once he was the nominee, they are 100% behind him and get really upset if someone speaks against him at all. It’s troubling. And I think they are making a huge mistake.

      What young person in America – or anyone outside the current church – is going to jump into an organization that backs a man who has acted like this? (horrifying words about women, never apologizing for actions, easily angered, dishonest, mocking disabled people, etc etc.) No one wants to give the benefit of the doubt to a “church” that supports that man in silence. They can fix it if they speak out and stay on him and his administration. But all I hear is silence.

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