I’ll admit that I kind of avoided talking about election season while it was going on. It was hard for me to keep up, honestly – I was kind of dealing with my own shit, dealing with the slow, inexorable decline of my endorphins, my dopamine, my seratonin, as I started to spend my days hunched in front of a computer instead of confidently striding down a trail. I mean, I kept up as best as I could while taking care of myself, but truth be told that was hardly better than it was while I was on the trail. I’d come into the living room to Spesh watching The Daily Show or @midnight and I’d get a few pieces here and there. I’d get on the book of many faces and see various articles that people had posted. That sort of thing. I didn’t hear much outside of my algorithm-induced echo chamber, but I knew, despite what I was hearing, that we were staring down the barrel of a potential Trump presidency.
I come from the Midwest, from a city and its “suburbs” best known for the military base, the closed-down GM plant, and the corn and soybean fields that together comprise a good three-quarters of the landscape. It’s not easy to find work there, certainly not work outside the service sector, and certainly not when you include the military in that designation. I mean, it was easy to find work there, once upon a time – and I’m told it’s getting better, though I know not fast enough. I knew there were plenty of Trump supporters there, knew I knew some of them, knew Trump would probably take the state with his promises of bringing jobs back from overseas and lowering taxes. The casual racism probably didn’t hurt, either1.
So when Spesh and I met a couple of friends at a pizza joint to watch the election results roll in, I didn’t really have any expectations. I had hopes, sure – hopes that this country would rise above the demagoguery, the hate speech, the sexism. But as the results came back – and as I started to get numerous panicked messages from friends – I just found myself sinking into nothingness. Refreshing fivethirtyeight over and over. Watching Hillary’s chances shrink further and further. Shock was the word of the evening – aside from one emotional outburst on the way home, the car, the house, was silent.
It was the luck of prior scheduling that I didn’t have to work until late Wednesday evening. I spent the entire day in bed, on Facebook. I moved to go to the bathroom and put a hoodie on over my pajamas. I thought about writing then, but knew better. Too soon. I remembered belatedly that I had an appointment for a haircut; I went, though I couldn’t really see the point. The further I got from home, the more a headache started to bloom – my first in years. When the hairdresser asked me how I was doing, I answered honestly: “I don’t think I have the emotional energy to deal with this right now.”
Two days and several work assignments later, the world still turns but I still don’t think I have the emotional energy to deal with it. Particularly not when I have a lot of friends who are guilty of the middle ground logical fallacy – minorities in this country have spent decades, centuries, attempting to reach a compromise vis-a-vis respectability politics, attempting to conform to white male culture, attempting to ingratiate ourselves by throwing shade at our brothers and sisters. It feels like only recently that we’ve come to the conclusion that even this compromise of our very selves hasn’t been enough, and will never be enough2.
I also have friends who are giving the ol’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ at the effects of Trump’s election, particularly if they voted for him. They’re not racists, although they admit some of his supporters are – a “minority” of them, I am told again and again, despite the spate of racist, homophobic, and Islamophobic incidents his supporters have wreaked across the country. “Some people are just racists,” they say. “This is just another presidential election”, they say. “We lived through eight years of Obama, you can live through four years of Trump.”
On the one hand, yes, I can probably live through four years of Trump. Probably. On the other hand, that is a false equivalence – sure, Obama was supposedly going to take their guns, and supposedly going to give undue attention to minorities, but Trump threatened to take away our hard-won civil rights as a part of his platform even as he gave a megaphone to all the people who would take them away if they could. So while I may live through four years of Trump, I don’t know that I will necessarily live through four years of his followers – particularly as a brown woman who loves to run around alone in the woods, and particularly if the media takes his tack and begins to further demonize us in the name of the almighty rating.
People didn’t vote for Trump for all the racism, the misogyny, the Islamophobia – but they said they were cool with the dehumanization of others if it got them their jobs back, if it got them lower taxes, if they got to stick it to the establishment. Still, don’t you see? We minorities are the selfish ones for not compromising.
I’ve been told to “just give him a chance”; he wants to “do right by all Americans–he said so in his victory speech.” But when you look at what Trump has done in the last few days, it only increases my concern. He’s avoiding the Press which, while legal, makes it seem like he has something to hide. Plus, as a lover of our wild spaces, he’s tapped someone who doesn’t believe in climate change as the leader of the EPA transition, and even as the Standing Rock Sioux resist the Dakota Access Pipeline, the frontrunner for the Secretary of the Interior is an oil executive who clearly has an interest in letting fossil fuels trump public use. And while I didn’t expect him to speak out against all the backlash against minorities, if he is who his supporters protest he is, you think he’d say… something. Anything to relieve the tension. But there’s just silence.
But not from me. I’ve basically spent every waking moment trying to have conversations about this – with people who’ve called or texted to show their support, people I’ve messaged to show solidarity, with friends who stand on the other side of the aisle, with strangers on the internet. Still, I feel like I’ve been talking about similar things for years – though I’ve found the people that need to hear it the most to be an unresponsive audience.
One of the few boons of this election is that the wool has been pulled from a lot of eyes. Many folk didn’t think this could happen, and now that it has, many are looking for ways to help. Donate to your favorite organization supporting the fights we’re fighting and the fights yet to come. Find time to volunteer for causes that are going to be threatened over the next four years – maybe do some trail maintenance or advocacy for your favorite trail. But if you don’t have funds and don’t have time, I implore you: use your voice. If you believe that I and other minorities are human, and therefore deserve the same rights as everyone else, I need you to speak. Talk to your friends about racist, sexist, ableist, classist, homophobic shit that happens. Don’t try to speak for us, but stand with us, no matter how awkward or how humbling the experience is. Now is not the time to shy away from conversations because they’re uncomfortable.
As for me, and most of the brown folk/LGBTQ+ folk/women I know– well. I can’t speak for them, but it seems like everyone’s coping the best they can. I know I’m still all a-jumble, coping with the fact that I still feel kind of emotionally dead. I’ll be posting on Instagram in the next few days, and I’ll be trying to get back to writing as soon as I can.
 My home state has 31 known hate groups that operate within its borders. My hometown has 2 separate orders of the KKK.
 Clearly, not all minorities have done this, and we are indebted to the individuals who dared to speak out, who dared to be themselves in the face of overwhelming social pressure to be something different.
8 thoughts on “Interlude: Late Nights, Long Days”
So, “we” elected a serial adulterer, cheater, racist, and bully who knows nothing about government or governing and has never been in the military. Everything he’s touched, from his marriages to his businesses, have failed. He’s never focused on anyone other than himself. Way to go, America.
I believe that those who voted for him do not, with their simplistic approach to decision-making, comprehend what they did. For the upper one percent, it looks like: “Hello tax break.” For everyone else: “Goodby middle class.”
As a long time PCT dreamer I have really enjoyed following your blog this year even though I have been a silent follower. Probably will continue to be a silent reader, but want you to know I am no longer silent at home or in my small parts of FB that aren’t an echo chamber. I speak with love and respect because you won’t change hearts and minds when you attack, but I speak.
I hope to see you on the trail some day.
Sigh. Wish you added some hiking stuff here. Have heard enough about politics and the election.
I really appreciate that you listed ways to help the people who will be the most affected by Trump”s presidency. Please keep writing what you are passionate about!
At the very least, when black churches are being burned in his name, you would want a president ( some of my lunch came up in the back of my mouth) to say,”That has no place in America and not what I’m about”.
I am beyond appalled. I’m grieving. I am deeply afraid. For my daughter, who was told “get used to locker room talk buttercup” . For my Latina daughter in law, who stands in front of a classroom full of terrified 9 year olds trying to make them feel safe when she herself questions her safety. I am afraid for my dearest friends and family, who are part of the LGBTQ community will have their hard won rights slapped out of their hands by people who now feel free to bully, harass and beyond. I am afraid for our beautiful planet. I understand wanting to shake up Washington. But not at the high peril of our basic human dignity, our rights, our very planet. The worst part of it is that he’s going to be impeached by his own party and Mike Pence will become president. So none of the “good” he wanted to do ( reinstate mental health care, term limits, etc) will never happen.
I’m sorry, this is long. I can’t seem to stop thinking about it. I love your blog, please stay safe.
“Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever. Donald Trump certainly will not, and Trumpism, to the extent that it is centered on Trump’s persona, will not either.” ( http://www2.nybooks.com/daily/s3/nov/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival.html )
Harry Truman was president when I was born. Things have changed since. The United States is less and less a place I know, understand, or respect.
If you saw me, you’d immediately peg me as yet another “old white guy”, but one who is not in any way a supporter of the delusional ignoramus, and never will be.
I don’t believe in hate, and have not been waiting for an obese superhero in a wig to come up my street ringing doorbells, handing out 19th-century dreams, and bringing back a past that never was.
I’m officially retired now and did it on my own. I got by somehow. Everybody else deserves a chance to do the same. You’re smart, you’re sane, you’re good, and somehow you will make it. Maybe we all will. Yes. We will.
And thanks for cluing me to “Logical Fallacies”. I’ll be using it.
Well, I’d say you nailed it. There are a lot of deluded people out there, but your eyes are clear.
I’ve always been a one-issue voter: the Environment, and I couldn’t be more upset. The damages to social justice and the social safety net, bad as they are, can be reversed. If we double our CO2 emissions instead of cutting them in half, there’s no way to get that back ever ever. My faith in humanity’s ability to live sustainably on this planet is just about gone.
So sad. And for what?
Thank you for your blog. It’s wonderful.