My Reaction to the Election Results by Elise M. Edwards


elise-edwardsI wanted to stay in bed yesterday morning.  I wanted to stay in bed for the whole day.  When I heard that Trump won the US Presidential election, I didn’t know how to deal with it.  How can I accept this reality?  I still don’t have an adequate answer.

Turn to prayer? Yes.  Do some writing? Ok. I’ll also take every hug and kind word that’s offered to me.  And still, my emotions will be raw for a long time.  I cry at random moments.  My voice catches unexpectedly.  I feel that so many Americans embraced a vision of the country that is intensely hostile to people like me (women, African-Americans, Black Lives Matter sympathizers, liberals, intellectuals). How can I not take that personally? Dismissing the harm of Trump’s open hostility or accepting it in deference to some supposedly higher goal feels like rejection too.  It justifies and legitimizes his contempt and denies the seriousness of it.  Do we really accept a man who speaks so openly of sexual assault because he promises to bring jobs back?  That denigrates women and all assault victims. The hatred directed at immigrants, Muslims, and LGBTQA persons is even more unrestrained and horrifying!

Trump’s message of hatred is alarming to me as a progressive Christian. Rhetoric that incites hatred, fear, and anxiety seems antithetical to the message of Jesus.   But while my Christian sensibilities are pained, my feminist sensibilities are even more wounded.  Truthfully, I would have liked to see a woman as president.  It would have been a symbol of progress in women’s equality, even though we know that glass ceilings remain firmly fixed in many places around the country and globe.  It would have been exhilarating to see a former First Lady come into the highest executive position by being elected to it.  But ultimately, it’s not who lost the election that crushes me.  It’s who won that hurts.  We chose a man with scant political experience over a woman who is qualified.  I can’t help but call that a sexist double standard.

At times when I would hear some of his statements during the campaign, I wondered if Trump has a suitable knowledge of the powers of government and checks and balances.  I do know there are some positions and policies Hillary Clinton would have adopted that concern me.  For one thing, I’m critical of her militarism.  But despite a few concerns about the manner in which she would have carried out the presidency, I was not concerned about her ability to do the job.  I think she is diligent and thoughtful.  On the contrary, I think Trump is impulsive and rash, and I’m deeply worried about having an inexperienced president who does not take the time to thoroughly deliberate.  Will a Republican Congress back hasty or reckless moves in the name of party unity and partisan agendas? It seems many of his Republican critics supported him as the election drew near despite vocal concerns in the months prior.  Why should I believe it will be different when Trump’s term begins?

I wish I had a bountiful reserve of faith, hope, and love (the theological virtues) to move me out of my dejected state.  But I am closer to despair than hope.  My faith in my compatriots is low.  I struggle to love in the midst of anger and doubt.

I worry that turning to the theological virtues too quickly might trivialize the grief I feel.  But perhaps I can find a way to express grief and loss and also draw myself back to wholeness.  After all, I did not stay in bed yesterday.    I got up and went to work.  I went to work and then meetings and then church.  I built in some extra self-care and I was able to meet all my obligations for the day. And in the coming days and weeks will choose again to get out of bed, to teach my classes, to write my book, and to believe in God and feminism.  I suppose that’s faith.  Or at least faithfulness.

I am afraid of what we will have to live through over the next several years.  And yet also, I know the future is undetermined.  We might be able to turn things around. I believe that the power of the sacred, the divine, the holy One provides us with options to avert a dystopian future. It’s why I’m in this community.  Turning things around and finding alternatives to crisis and chaos will take hard work and commitment from many of us committed to this same cause.  I don’t know if we will succeed, but I believe it is possible.  I suppose there’s a glimmer of hope there.

I also continue to reject and denounce the xenophobia, homophobia, rape culture, ableism, racism, sexism, body-shaming, and other forms of contempt and disrespect for “others” and “minorities” that has been revealed in the campaign and elections.  I don’t think hatred will ever bring us security or prosperity.  I choose love instead.  I have to work on this virtue, though.  I have love and compassion for those who are hurting.  And those who are vulnerable.  My religion asks me to love my enemies, too.  On election night, I realized there are more enemies than I thought!  So I’ll get lots of practice with love.  Many opportunities to get it right.  I choose to love, but I’m not quite there yet.

I don’t yet have the full measure of faith, hope, and love that I’ll need to cope over the next few days, weeks, months, and years.  And so I offer this prayer from St. Therese of Lisieux for me and anyone else who needs it:

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Blessings to all of you who are hurting, too.  Be well.  Please tell me how you are nourishing your spirits.

Elise M. Edwards, PhD is a Lecturer in Christian Ethics at Baylor University and a graduate of Claremont Graduate University. She is also a registered architect in the State of Florida. Her interdisciplinary work examines issues of civic engagement and how beliefs and commitments are expressed publicly. As a black feminist, she primarily focuses on cultural expressions by, for, and about women and marginalized communities. Follow her on twitter, google+ or academia.edu.

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Categories: Activism, Christianity, Community, Ethics, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Gender and Sexuality, God, Healing, In the News, Justice, Politics, Power relations, Resistance, Social Justice

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39 replies

  1. I seem to want to say ‘condolences’ as if someone died. Or something. It could be the end of the world.

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  2. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I struggle with finding any optimism right now. My pain is existential for I do not stand to lose as much personally as a cis-white woman. I hope through my faith and ability that I can aid in the hard times for those more directly impacted by this election.

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    • I don’t think optimism is justifiable at the moment, but a hard-forged faith or hope that equips us for activism? I hope so. I think we should all follow your example by acknowledging our privilege and then committing to solidarity with those who are suffering. Thank you, Sharlyn.

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  3. Thank you for this post, Elise. I agree that it’s not the time to gloss over grief by covering its nakedness with theological virtues. Just wrote this to some friends: “I am thinking/feeling that grieving will take the time and forms that it takes, and it won’t always move in a straight line. Mine is sure not going anywhere in a hurry. I pray our grief(s) will move and take shape and bear good fruit. There is a lot of work to do, and we will also need to remember to rest. And may we remember joy–which can surprises and has a deep well spring.”

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  4. Thank you for this post, Elise, so helpful this morning. It’s very possible that Trump’s election may in fact galvanize the liberal spirit in America as counterpoint. And not only in politics but in the arts, editorials, TV commentary, etc, cartoons, and humor. Gail Collins has a knock-down, fabulous editorial at the nytmes.com this morning called: “Ten Steps for Adjusting to Trump.” Her first suggestion — “Start with a night of heavy drinking. Already done that? Good, you’re on your way.” And how about her #5 — she says: “If you’re worried about social issues, remember that until fairly recently, Trump was a rather liberal Manhattanite. But just in case, you might want to write out a large check to Planned Parenthood.”

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    • Earlier this morning I too was pondering the word “galvanize.”

      Trump’s election can do just that for those of us concerned with social issues.

      Trump may know how to campaign; he might not know how to govern.

      Never voted for Reagan, but he did employ some talented people, particularly in the Department of Justice.

      Ted Olson and William French Smith, for example, come to mind.

      Trump is different.

      He has surrounded himself with second stringers.

      Rudy Giuliani and New Gingrich are way past their prime.

      Giuliani as Attorney General?

      Gingrich as Secretary of State?

      Trump’s platform was pure gossamer.

      He ran on hopes rather than reality.

      In two years, he’ll be as popular as a skunk at a church picnic.

      He’ll likely make George W. Bush look beloved.

      For those of us opposed to racism and misogyny (among other things), the time to start organizing is NOW.

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    • Thanks for pointing us to practical solutions. I’ll look at the NYT piece so I can move from paralysis! Have you seen the Crunk Feminist Collective’s post on this? I think as we move forward, we must acknowledge the racial dynamics at play and engage them in an intersectionally feminist way.

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      • Hi Elise. I like that you said, “as we move forward.” That’s very positive. I also think Condoleezza Rice would make an excellent president. And I honestly think she could win as a Republican or a Democrat. I took a look at the Crunk Feminist Collective you mentioned, very interesting indeed, thanks.

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  5. This morning, just before getting up, I had a dream. I saw Donald Trump marching at the front of a group of older white men. Those in the front of the crowd wore suits and ties, and were obviously well off, but those in the back were rougher and were wearing work clothes. At first they were marching just in the U.S., but then I saw that there were other similar groups marching in European cities. They were shouting “we are taking our countries back”. On the sidelines were people of color, and women. They were just standing, watching, some obviously in horror, some seemingly numb, none, as yet, reacting.

    In retrospect, I think what spurred this specific dream was a picture of Trump’s possible cabinet – all older, wealthy, white men like himself. Yes, this is their last chance to take it all back from the woman, from anyone with non-white skin, or the wrong religion. They don’t see their movement as going back to the past. They see it as the future, an all white male, pseudo-Christian future. But what about all of us? Well screw us! We can go back to Africa or whatever country our brown ancestors came from. If we are women, we can shut up and do what we are told. In any case, we are all (except young, pretty, mostly blond women with long hair and big breasts), expendable.

    They believe that America is a white man’s country, period. They will call the shots here at home, and also anywhere else in the world they damn well please. I don’t think that these guys have anything restraining them from using force to gain their ends. Once they have the fire power of the U.S. Army and the police behind them, they can and will use their military strength to subdue any who threaten their hegemony.

    I hope that what I have foreseen here is just a really terrible nightmare, and not a vision of the future. Though we are certainly not immune to a dystopian government, right now, I am really glad that I live in Canada.

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    • I hear you! I’m afraid of this dystopian vision, too. But I think we also have to be real about the ways in which women participated in Trump’s victory. The exit polls remind us that women are just as capable as men as being defenders of patriarchy, heterosexism, and racism, too. As feminists, if we don’t address women’s perpetration of patriarchy, we are being insufficiently equipped to change our world.

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      • Well, yes, of course, lots of women supported him, but I don’t think he supports them. I think he used them, and in his world, women are just good for two things: cheap labor and sex. I think that most, certainly not all, of the women who supported him will eventually see him for who he is.

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  6. I’m grieving deeply as well. I keep telling myself that Clinton did win the majority vote. I keep speaking my truth and getting attacked by white males and told to calm down and shut up. The amount of sexism, racism, and hatred evident this election is appalling. I’m sad more democrats didn’t vote at the very least against Trump.

    I’m a spiritual person, and people keep telling me that the worst possible candidate can bring about the most healing for people as we work against him. It’s hard for me to see that right now. I’m triggered though as a survivor of abuse and sexual assault. I wanted to live in a world that cared more about women’s safety and would say no to a man like Trump for hundreds of reasons. I can’t believe we don’t live in that world.

    I also keep hearing that we all paid too much attention to him instead of telling the world the reasons why we loved Clinton. I did admire her service, her qualifications, and her message. I think she was the target of ridiculous lies and exaggerations. I can’t imagine trying to function under the amount of hate sent her way. Much of what she was crucified was done by male Republicans to much greater degrees. Anyway, thanks for writing this piece.

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  7. As Jelani Cobb said,Trump’s horrible sexism and racism was not a “deal breaker” for those who voted for him; and this tolerance of racism and sexism is racism and sexism. We are right to be afraid, esp, as with Citizens United and targeted voter suppression, it is not clear that this election was a free election, and I hate to think about the next one! Still we have no choice but to continue to work for liberty and justice for all beings in the web of life–and peace on earth.

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    • Trump was a horrible candidate who’ll be a terrible president.

      Yet some posters here are overlooking the fact that the Clinton campaign failed to get its message out.

      When it counted, how much time, energy and money did Trump’s campaign spend in key battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin?

      How about Clinton’s?

      Trump appealed to those white voters who have been scorned, particularly by the Democratic elite.

      Joe Biden, who grew up in working class Scranton, Pennsylvania, might have been able to appeal to Joe Six Pack; HRC could not.

      We may label those with whom we disagree as “deplorables.”

      There were more such folks voting for Trump than nasty women voting for Clinton.

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    • Carol, you are are always so insightful and clear. I am posting this in my office: Tolerance of racism and sexism is racism and sexism.
      Thank you.

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  8. Friends, I updated the post to include how sickened I am by the tacit acceptance of sexual assault. (Is it even tacit?) Quite honestly, my first reaction to his win was something like, “They elected a self-proclaimed pu$$y-grabber as president!?!?!” When I was writing this post, I didn’t have the emotional reserve to address that. And I need to ponder the way so many Christians defend this candidate, despite his misogyny, because of his willingness to promote a pro-life agenda. I’m not blind to that issue, I just can’t speak on it for now. Actually, I’m about to go to class to speak on it. I just can’t write about it now.

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  9. So honored to be your friend.

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  10. I can’t sleep at night. A sexual predator in the White House? Is he going to turn the White House into a casino? Put a big TRUMP on the front of it? People are protesting in cities all around the U.S.: NOT MY PRESIDENT. I’ve got a really good imagination, but I just cannot imagine what this country is going to be in six months, a year, two years, four years…… Sex for sale in the U.S. Capitol? An atomic bomb dropped somewhere?

    There’s no way he can fill all his gossamer campaign promises. How’s he gonna reopen factories when the technology they used is out of date? How can he force, say, Ford to go back to Michigan? His supporters live in some other reality that unfortunately impinges on our marginally more real consensual reality.

    I posted a very strong binding spell on my Facebook page. If enough of us do it……..

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  11. Yesterday I was numb. Today I woke up thinking how dangerous this is for people of colour, sexual diversity, people who are poor and all women. I see an increase in violence and am horrified by a photo of the KKK marching across a bridge in NC. I want to hug you all.
    My relatives who pride themselves on being “Christian” join in the cruelty and I’ve unfollowed them on Facebook. But I think I’ll challenge instead, those who say they love Jesus and then act so violently toward their brothers and sisters.
    My sadness flows from my eyes as I write this. I try to remember some of the other posts on Facebook. The organizations already organizing to protect others, those speaking out against the hatred, etc., I need to make a list of them so I can remember when I feel scared or depressed.
    Warm, prayerful, loving hugs to you from me.

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    • Thanks Barbara,
      Among the FB posts that are mocking those of us who mourn and those that criticize us for unfollowing and blocking people from our friends lists. As if democracy demands that you expose yourself to toxicity on a money-making, for-profit website. I think this is a time to remember that feminists, especially radical feminists, have always insisted on the legitimacy of separatism–at least at particular moments for particular reasons in particular spaces.

      Do what you need to protect yourself from toxic religionists and bigots. Surround yourself with those who use religion or community or law in love to build each other up.

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  12. The night of the election I had a horrific dream that the earth had become a wasteland with nothing but the bones of trees left dead on the ground…this commentary from nature and self on the state of the earth left me without illusion… all that’s left to do is to let the story play out…

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  13. When things started to look hopeless Wednesday night, I turned it all off, put on some healing music and danced around my living room until I fell asleep. After the morning horror, my first reaction was one of alignment with the French Underground during WWII. Somehow we need to stay connected to love and compassion. Guess we won’t have to use walkie talkies as they did against the Nazis. But at the risk of sounding paranoid (and what better time to sound paranoid) all our social media can now be opened and scrutinized in seconds (Right Hillary?) How do we stay strong with one another? How do we keep the flame of humanity aglow during what may be years of darkness?

    I know there is ebb and flow, breathing in and out. I know this too shall pass. What can we do as powerful women to mitigate the damage until it comes round again to love? Damned if I know today. But maybe start with more kindness to those in our/my immediate circle. Maybe watch my thoughts more – don’t let hateful or retributive ideas grow into weeds that shade my heart. In the spirit of Eisenstein’s quantum theory of Entanglement – or if you prefer the New Age statement that we are all One: even though we may need to go underground for a few years, we can still smile and nod to one another, we can still vision what a bright future for our children and grandchildren will look like and work toward that.

    But for now, hand me a box of tissues and a bottle of something.

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    • This is so poignant. I hope we don’t need to go underground. I hope there’s a way we can hold love for each other in public spaces in defiance of the public display of hatred. I hope we can visibly affirm those who will be targeted and find open, practical ways to act in solidarity with them.

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  14. I was sick all day yesterday. Literally vomiting my guts out. This morning I had to pick myself up off the floor and figure out what my faith demands of me. To start with, today I’m doing two things – praying & boosting the signal as my small part in bringing the #safetypin campaign to life here in the US.

    The idea, which emerged in the UK after the Brexit vote, is to wear a safety pin as a visible sign to anyone who finds themselves out and about and suddenly in a potentially threatening situation that you are a safe person to seek help from if needed– someone who will stand up for their fellow citizens in the face of hatred. I added a single plastic “pearl” bead to mine in remembrance of the courage of all the suffragettes over the decades of struggle it took to secure the right to vote for ALL American women. And I pinned mine over my heart to remind myself of my spiritual commitment to fearless love.

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  15. Kate, you aren’t the only one physically sick. I wish you restored health. I believe your spiritual commitment to fearless love will help you and the communities you bless with your life and love to pull through this. Thank you for the protection you offer to those around you!

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  16. I’m in England, an Ex-Pat. It is so stomach wrenching for all the Others within the country. I’m afraid for the next 4 years. And honestly, I’m hoping for impeachment.

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  17. Elise, thank you for sharing this terrible moment in American history with the rest of us. And thanks to all the rest of you, too: every one of you gave me courage. It is not hyperbole to say that this moment is qualitatively different from the end of any other election: we have a true monster, an amoral, self-seeking sociopath as President-Elect. This is a moment that goes beyond even the most important issues, taking on an archetypal significance. For all the critcidms any of us may have of Jung’s views on the “masculine” and “feminine,”or the nature of the unconscious, he understood one thing we need to understand now…that the “Shadow” will have the nuclear codes. Jung’s essays on Hitler and the rise of Naziism are instructive.

    I, too, was physically ill yesterday, after being up most of the night before. I, too, felt like someone I loved had died. I, too, wept and mourned. My daughter and I commiserated over the phone — I truly fear the kind of world The Monster and his whitewashed sepulchres of followers, with their attempt to return to an imagined past, will create for my granddaughter — and I exchanged many e-mails with equally distraught friends around the world. I wore black, as if I were going to a funeral.

    And then I got up today. I dressed in bright colors. I turned on Pandora and tuned in to my Renaissance dance music station. I drank herb tea. I made collages (which I know some of you are tired of getting, although you’re nice enough not to tell me). I swept leaves on the driveway. I breathed. I hugged a store cashier who looked like she needed it. I decided which organizations I was going to donate to. I signed petitions. I watched the demonstartions of thousands of people who say they will not give in. I read Elise’s post.

    And despite all the darkness, despite all the hatred, despite the sickening thought of Trump and his gang taking power, I remembered, as a chaplain I know always says, to “be encouraged.” He and I may not be on the same spiritual path, but he, like us, is trying to “be faithful.” He, and you, Elise, and all the rest of you, in your various ways, are doing the same. And I am trying. Whatever comes, we must continue to try. We must nurture, and share, our power.

    Yesterday we mourned.

    Today, tomorrow, and for as long as we can, we act.

    Brightest blessings to all: I am going (thank you, Kate!) to wear a bead on a safety pin, too. And may each one of you be well, happy, and safe.

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  18. I too am terrified of what Trump will usher in. I hope and pray that I am wrong and that he won’t start WWIII, or turn the US into his rendition of Nazi Germany. We’ve decided to quit watching TV news for now. We just don’t have the strength for it. We do scan headlines in the paper and on the computer, though. I just came back from my singing circle and we added extra candles to our altar and sang songs of peace and love in an effort to lift our hearts. God/dess help us all!

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  19. Thank you so much for this. I stand with you in love and solidarity. I am also feeling sick, as if absorbed into pain, and it has thrown me completely off track. I have tried to pick myself up today and meditate and chant, and it was a precious 20 minutes in my morning. It is what I should have done all day. Self-care is difficult right now, but we need to keep trying. If you ever need to talk, I miss and love you, my friend. Try to email me. elisabeths2380@gmail.com. I assure you that we will commiserate together, and I will absolutely not tell you to get over it. I also have people in my world right now who hardly understand my sadness.

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    • Absolutely, LaChelle. We must never tell each other to forget it, move on, or let each other forget. Normalizing the unacceptable, unthinkable and unforgivable are not options.

      Do take care of yourself, though. We need all the strength, focus and spirit we can muster. We need “body” and “soul” (that is, the totality of ourselves). There are a lot of people out here who understand your sadness, and share it.

      But we must not forget.

      And we must not give in, or grow tired, or be worn down by our sadness.

      And we must resist.

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