I’m new to the Democratic Party. I voted for President Obama in 2012 and for Hillary just a couple weeks ago. I come from a long line of conservative Republicans. In fact, I may be the only person on either side of my immediate and extended family that has ever voted for a Democrat. So this is a big deal and an important part of my narrative.
Part of this transition for me to a more moderate or Democratic view of society came from years of reading the works of teachers, leaders and researchers like Brene Brown, Richard Rohr, Frederick Buechner, and Rob Bell. They are not politicians, but their words have birthed in me a compassion and understanding of the world that I’d never experienced before. But perhaps the more powerful transformation came when I had two children of my own: a boy and a girl. Upon birthing and mothering them, I quickly came to see that everyone is someone’s child. Everyone is valuable and beautiful. Everyone is “worthy of love and belonging.”
So on November 1, I stepped into an early voting booth with my daughter and voted for Hillary and others whose public service aims to support and benefit all. I let my daughter press the “Cast Your Ballot” button as tears ran down my face. But in the days ahead, I felt a growing darkness.
Trump signs multiplied in our neighborhood and in parts of town where I’d not seen them before. More and more rebel flags flew from trucks parked in the grocery parking lot next to my house. I began wondering what it meant.
The day of the election while on a walk in the neighborhood with my kids, I called out to the one other Hillary supporter and asked, “Are we gonna do it?” She was so excited, a woman in her early 60s, a “blue girl in a red state” she once told me. She shouted “We got this!” and was certain for a Hillary win. But I wasn’t so sure.
The night of the election, I sat numb as numbers rolled in. I stitched in dim light and barely spoke as the hours ticked by. Around 1:00 am, my husband brought our daughter into the bed and laid her next to me. Forty-five minutes later, he dozed off. I looked at my precious girl’s face as my glowing phone streamed NBC News. I awaited the inevitable.
I hadn’t eaten in almost 12 hours, and as the news came around 3:00 am that Hillary had conceded, a wave of nausea came over me. When Donald Trump took the stage for his victory speech, it was all I could do to make it to the bathroom to dry heave and spit into the toilet.
Exhausted and devastated, I came back to bed, fell asleep for a couple hours, and woke up in tears. I didn’t know what the tears meant at first, but as the day marched on, my source of pain became clear.
I’ll be the first to admit, Hillary is not perfect. There are still lingering questions about her integrity. But she also has a clear, far-reaching body of work that proves her passion for helping the least, the cast aside, the poor, and the disabled. That is real. That is tangible. And her qualification to preside over America is evident.
Those who didn’t vote for Hillary have their reasons, just as those who voted for her have their reasons. But regardless of politics and issues, what Hillary’s loss means to me is not just the loss of my candidate or the party I identify with. That would not have caused me to vomit or weep. What lost was equality, respect, inclusion, and the idea that we all belong here. What lost was compassion, grace, and empathy. What lost most in this election was love.
Three days later, I’m still grieving. I haven’t cried today, but it’s been a busy day of well check-ups for my kids, a grocery store run, and an afternoon picnic in the backyard. But I feel the break in my heart if it’s silent for more than a few minutes. This was about more than politics, this was about how we as a nation collectively view everyone. This was about valuing all lives. This was about belonging.
If I feel dejected, excluded, and afraid, I can’t imagine how so many others must be feeling this week. Perhaps we have always suspected that we weren’t welcome here. But if there was any lingering question, it has been answered.
Those with Special Needs.
At best, we are viewed as less-than. At worst, this is no longer our home.
May the Divine One have mercy on us all.