On election night, I wept. As the returns came in and the inevitability of this came into focus, I curled up under my covers and wept those deep sobs that shake your body and your core. I wasn’t just crying because my candidate lost – I’m a Democrat, I’ve been there before. I wasn’t even crying because it was a candidate that I was particularly fond of. I wept for the loss of a female holding the highest office. I wept for the reality that a man who brags about sexual assault was going to be the Commander in Chief. I wept because I knew how hard it was going to be to explain the election results to my daughter when she woke up; she was a huge fan of Clinton’s and that was going to be a tough conversation. I wept for my lost hope in what a Clinton administration would be like. I hid while my husband tried to comfort me, and for hours I wept.
As the Trump transition team started to release names of his Cabinet picks, I went from weeping to anger. There are men and women who could fill these positions whose beliefs I don’t share. He, however, wasn’t picking any of them. Rather, the only qualification that anyone seemed to need was a large bank account and willingness to send some of it his way. I was angry for all the kids who were learning that if they didn’t have big money, they weren’t going to matter as adults. Children were seeing in action that money matters more than capability. I was angry for the poor kid with a brilliant mind who feels even further away from reaching their potential. That anger fueled me making sure that I knew what was happening in the country and making sure that my phone calls and letters expressing my displeasure were made.
When the executive orders started to be signed, I went from angry to incandescent. How dare he say that people who are Green Card holders can’t come back into the country? How DARE he say that people who have been vetted and have been contributing to America for years aren’t welcome here. The wall between us and Mexico is going to hurt far more than it will help. Executive order after executive order (and the rumored ones coming up that both hurt the LGBTQA+ community and saying that the Department of Defense will get to contribute to our education policies) were so against the America that my parents and grandparents had taught me to love and respect that it just lit me up. My husband seemed to start to judge my rage to see if even talking to me about news was a good idea. He was hearing me writing at all hours of the night and muttering about the state of our nation while I cooked dinner. “This isn’t us” I kept saying.
The firing of the assistant Attorney General for saying she wouldn’t uphold the ban on immigration was the final straw for me. I no longer am weeping and I’m no longer a ball of anger or rage. I am still fighting and I calling and I am protesting and I am not giving up no matter how bad it gets. However, I realized tonight what I’m now doing. I’m mourning. I’m mourning for the American ideals that I love so dearly. I’m mourning for the independent judiciary that my grandfather always said was the most important branch of the government (granted, he was a federal judge so he was biased). I’m mourning for Lady Liberty who no longer is welcoming the world’s tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. She’s now just trying to figure out how to get through yet one more day. I’ll keep fighting because I don’t know how to stop and it’s too important to give up but my fight now is a mournful one. I don’t know if America will ever come back from this dark time and be whole again and even if it does it will always feel the scar; it will always feel this division somewhere in its soul. Institutional memory isn’t always a good thing. But through the weeping and the anger and the mourning, I have one thing that’s always been there. One thing that’s driving the phone calls and the letters. One thing that motivates me. Hope. I hope and, as Andy Dufresne would say, that’s a good thing. I can only hope that the hope gets me from mourning to regrowth.