I wasn't sure my state would go for Hillary but I hoped. I knew it would be a race, and maybe even a very close one, but I never, NEVER imagined that she would lose.
Hillary Rodham Clinton who had been in public life for thirty years; who had fought for the rights of children and women; who had been First Lady of Arkansas, then First Lady of the United States; a New York Senator, a Presidential candidate, and the Secretary of State during the Obama Administration. Some resume...and yet.
And yet, in her second bid for the Presidency, surprisingly, she was in a serious battle with a New York businessman who had a mercurial, successful, wealthy, flamboyant, headline subject, reality-TV personality, global brand resume. A man who was never a public servant, never an employee of the people, never governed anything, never had to by adhere to a stringent set of laws and rules,let alone and manage warring factions who all were constituencies and audiences to be pleased, not walked out on or fired.
I didn't take Donald Trump's candidacy seriously at first. I thought he was in it for the hype and the circus. That any publicity was good publicity and it would certainly energize his perhaps fading celebrity-brand after fifteen seasons on the air. I thought he would get wiped out by someone and if not someone, well then, Jeb Bush would certainly swipe him off the face of the ticket. But it didn't happen.
No matter how outlandish, how outrageous, how offensive, how untruthful, Mr. Trump just kept gaining in popularity. This told us something. It told us that people were really looking for someone truly different and they cared more about different than the social norms of present-day politics. Yes, it was true that Hillary came with baggage, lots of it — between her style which many interpreted as aloof and secretive and domineering; her husband (a full set of luggage on his own); her past with Whitewater, and her present — complete with personal server and emails.
But what about Trump? What about his issues with supposed-billions and bankruptcies and no tax returns and being smart about paying no federal taxes and stories of womanizing, and his derogatory statements about women and people of color and people of other countries and people with challenges? No matter his lack of substance when it came to coherent policy or lack of experience with governing or international diplomacy, or his war-mongering, often times mocking stance, on this country. Lets overlook his frequent lack of appropriate language (in open and closed settings) or his repetitive triumvirate of meaningless words: "disaster — rigged — HUGE."
I really never understood how he managed to continue being the face of the Republican Party's nominee for the highest office in the land. Here is my first mistake. That should have told us something big. He just kept knocking out or pushing past some fairly substantial figures in the race...one after another the promising newcomers and the seasoned legacies of the Party's representatives fell by the wayside and Donald Trump endured.
Still, I did not think that he could beat out Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Next there's the issue of how many people really dislike her. I really did not feel great about the way she seemed in public. Yes she had the facts, she had the right arguments, she had the views I believed in, but I often thought she seemed smug or condescending. I knew that wasn't what those close to her felt but it was what I received almost every time I saw her speak.
Not her concession speech. In fact that speech was the most authentic I'd ever seen her. She was composed and caring and conciliatory in a warm, honest way but she also held firm to what she had lost, what she felt and why it was critically important to not see her defeat as DEFEAT. Even if she wasn't to be at the helm (horribly disappointingly to many millions of voters and to her family, her staff and her SELF) still we were obliged to carry the mantle, continue to be the voice and the presence and the power of the values we shared despite this stunning setback.
I think underneath all the stuff: the Comey "indictment" of a batch of emails on someone else's laptop (and what a someone), the fact that she's an insider-insider; I still believe that it definitely hurt that she's female. Now I'm not saying she lost because of sexism, but in part — I think she did. I saw a statistic that said 67% of white, male, non-college educated males voted for Trump and I thought, "Well there's a group that sure wants to support women being equal..."
After turning off the TV at 1:37am (because I couldn't stand watching the inevitable at that point), I fell asleep hoping that it would all look different in the morning.
It didn't and I was astonished by the depth of my physical reaction (my ulcer which had been dormant for decades decided to make itself known), the depression I felt and my complete inability to comprehend this new reality. As Hillary said,
"Donald Trump is going to be our President."
I'm going to try to wrap my head around that one. To face the fact that after another 80 days or so, after Barack Obama, despite my disbelief, President-Elect Donald Trump will be the Commander-in-Chief. Could anyone have beat him? Not Bernie Sanders. My friend says perhaps Joe Biden who himself is a bit of a loose cannon, but a reasonable, measured one. I don't think so because he too is a career politician.
Donald Trump is going to be our President. I can only hope that the sheer magnitude of the job awes Trump in a way that tones his everything down, humbles him into realizing that some responsibilities deserve thoughtful, civil, collaborative consideration. Of course he'll always be who he is — brash and a maverick — but perhaps he can focus and do what he does best, build things.
Infrastructure is a great place to start. The nation needs it, the parties agree on it, it will put people to work, it will boost the economy, and make monies flow while making everyone safer. Let that be the legacy of the Trump Presidency — that he orchestrated a second WPA that stabilized the financial situation of a working public and produced a more secure set of roads, bridges, and tunnels. Let them build these structures and build our economy.
Just as long as they're not building a wall.