Three tips for all of us after the election

This is my third attempted blog post in three days. The first two, which I thankfully didn’t publish, were full of hope and optimism and excitement about the days ahead. In my pantsuit-nation-fueled, out-of-touch brain, I was looking ahead to a day when a woman would have finally broken that highest of barriers, when we might have some hope of taking better care of our planet, and when SCOTUS might not be overwhelmingly conservative for the foreseeable future.

Whoops.

Today, I SO wanted to write a blog post that starts like this:

Well, that happened. A reality-tv star will soon control our nuclear arsenal. Good night and good luck, America. 

However, that’s snarky Jodi. And boy, does she want to come out, but guess what? She had her chance during the campaign, and she lost. I never really let her out, which I will always regret, but today, I’m eating some serious humble pie, so my attempts to make sense of our new reality will be, hopefully, a little nicer.

On the bus to work this morning, I reflected on how sad it made me that I couldn’t talk about my dismay and sorrow with my parents, who have always been my shoulders to cry on. Because, well, we disagree heartily on politics, and we just. don’t. talk. about. it. When I left the coffee shop this morning with my bad-for-me-but oh-so-necessary everything bagel, I felt like I might be able to pull it together and help my staff and colleagues process what had happened.

And then, I got to the office, and I saw everyone’s red-eyed, shell-shocked faces. Then I got emails from both of my parents telling me how much they love me and were proud of me, despite our disagreements. And yeah, well, the whole morning was basically me trying to do some work while watching Hillary’s (classy and brave – it was, even if you hate her) concession speech and fighting back tears.

In the raw aftermath of a hard, hard day, I realized a few things. Most of these I thought before the election, but I think they are worth saying now.

IT DOESN’T HELP TO DEMONIZE EVERYONE WHO VOTED FOR THEIR CANDIDATE

It may be too soon to say this, but I’ve been wanting to say it for months and didn’t have the guts. All the articles and commentary that have said “If you voted for Trump, you are a Nazi” or “If you voted for Hillary, you are a stupid libtard who hates America” aren’t the answer. To be crass, such simplicity won’t help us win the argument, and to be honest, it’s not true. We all have people in our lives who love us, who are good people, who care about each other, and who voted for the other side. I’m not sure we will ever be able to fully understand their decision, but they are still our people and we have to find other, more grown-up ways to express ourselves. Or, to accept that these people will no longer be in our lives.

IF YOU DID VOTE FOR TRUMP, PLEASE TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE FEAR THAT MANY ARE FEELING TODAY

Several of the Trump supporters in my life have expressed that the fear and despair that I and my friends are feeling today are the same emotions they have been feeling for the last 8 years.

It is really, really hard for me to accept this as true, because of what I see and what I know of the real-life, dangerous experiences of my LGBT, minority, and female friends and colleagues. But I am trying to accept it, and to recognize that fear is not a competition; it’s an emotion that rules without regard for context.

Still, it’s worth pointing out that the KKK is happy that Trump won the election. Let’s just sit with that for a moment. Trump has made public statements that directly insult, and in some cases directly threaten, entire swaths of America, putting people of diverse backgrounds into simplistic boxes for the sake of a tweet. While you may think, and it may be true, that the media blew such comments out of proportion, or that Trump “didn’t mean them”, the reality is that (just as an example) there are kids, right now, worrying if their parents will be taken away from them because of things Trump has said. Please, respect that such fears, even if you don’t share them, are very real today and probably will be for a while.

WE HAVE TO DO BETTER FOR EACH OTHER

One thing I did see today that gave me hope is a lot of people seeking and finding tangible ways to take action. I loved this (admittedly left-leaning) piece telling us to quit whining, recognize our failure, and get to work. And while I’m glad that many of us on the losing side are fired up, I also hope that those of you on the winning side are also fired up to do your part to try to repair the damage this campaign, and indeed the last few years, have wrought, on this country. It’s too simple to blame it on Fox News or the “mainstream” media. We are all complicit in the horror that we just put each other through, and what history tells us could happen if the cruelty continues. We clicked, we shared, we watched, we repeated the talking points, we allowed ourselves to be put into false boxes pitting Group A against Group B. I want to believe that we are better than who we were over the last few years.

Are we? I’m not sure. Time will tell. But in the meantime, I suggest we turn off the national debate for a while and work on making our own families, workplaces, and local communities better. We are not going to find too many role models of decency in our nation’s leaders, so let’s see if we can find them among each other. There is so much we can do, by serving those who need us, spending less time on social media, and being compassionate. It may be too late. The zombie apocalypse might be inevitable, and if so, well, I’m glad I have friends on well-stocked farms in Arkansas. But I’m not ready to give up yet.

And for what it’s worth, this doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat a whole pint of ice cream tonight. And perhaps wash it down with some wine and chocolate. And look at lots of dog videos. And read some escapist fiction. And well, mourn a little bit more. But, as we rise out of the fog of despair, or bask in the glow of victory, we can already see there is more work to be done, especially by those of us who have been sitting on the sidelines, thinking that voting is enough. It’s not. We just got a wake-up call. So let’s grab some coffee and get going.

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