What’d I miss?

About two weeks ago I pulled my back out and between that and the fact that my software project has kicked into high gear, I’ve been a little out of the world lately. So … what’s going on?

Seriously.

What just happened?

I was up until about one last night after waking up that morning at 5:30am (which is about an ahour and a half earlier than usual). I actually walked to my polling place which is a school just around the corner from my house, in part to loosen the aforementioned back, though I didn’t factor in what standing in a line for 25 minutes might do to it. Ah well, that’s what ibuprofen and the oddly spelled supplement turmeric is for.

I got back to the house around 7 and actually took a second to enjoy one of the benefits of reverting from daylight savings time, watching the sunrise. Just taking a minute to bask in the joy of God’s creation. If only the rest of the day had been so calming.

The coverage on all the channels was really something to see. We have a tradition since the 2008 election of watching the Daily Show’s live election special. In 2012 I’d had to watch it in a hotel room in Cleveland with my wife on the phone while we watched Obama be reelected over a Republican we didn’t like, but not someone who seemed unqualified.

The mood this year was frankly somber, correspondants stress-eating and pounding back shots of pepto bismol. @midnight’s Chris Hardwick was more of tugging at the shirt collar “I don’t know” variety of anxiety. But my favorite part of the evening, or at least the one that encapsulated how I was feeling was Rachel Maddow. In the middle of reading some of the latest results she just *sighed*.

For myself I was feeling equal parts depressed and angry. I sent this to my friend Brian at about 11:45 which summed it up pretty nicely:

At the urging of my wife with things looking uncertain but not completely lost I went to bed around 1am, then woke up around 4am which I’ve been doing the past few nights, needing to roll over to spread some of the tension in my back around. I argued with myself that I shouldn’t check the results, that I should just roll over and go back to sleep. I lost that battle, but fortunately I was too exhausted from the short night the day prior to spend much time thinking about it.

A lot of people on social media today have been saying the depressing thing is not that Donald Trump is going to be our President, it’s what his being elected means about us. There’s certainly a part of Trump’s constituency that has said some pretty hateful, misoginyst, bigoted, anti-intellectual, xenophobic, homophobic, anachronistic, jingoistic, and yes deplorable things. But the truth is I think the majority of these people have just felt left behind by the world. They felt that neither side was listening to their concerns, or doing enough to help them, and they finally made their voices heard.

There’s a part of that frustration I will never understand because it’s just not the kind of life I lead. I can sympathize. I’ve known plenty of people who’ve worked in the auto industry or in steel, or out on the factory floor. In my parent’s day that was a good middle class job, and something to be proud of, and whatever the cause of it, it’s something we’ve lost in today’s America. It makes sense that that’s frustrating.

If I’m honest, I’ve lived a life of relative privilege. I’ve worked hard, but I had a lot of opportunities. I’ve pursued a career that hopefully will remain relavant throughout my lifetime, though automation and best cost countries threaten programmers as well. That’s why life-long learning to me isn’t a cliche, it’s a necessity. But my ability to say that has largely been the product of parents who valued higher education and my own interests and passions. And there are plenty of vital industries that can’t be outsourced, like senior care, that get crap wages for crap work (literally sometimes). We need to do better for everyone.

Some of this frustration turns into implicit racism, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or any number of things, and I could tar these people with the brush of being intolerant and dismiss them. It seems like that’s what the democrats did in some ways. You don’t change anyone’s mind by unfriending them, or blocking them, or telling them they’re a monster. You get to know them, you try to understand where they’re coming from, and you have a honest discussion.

I want to call everybody useless. I want to be mad. And there are a lot of hateful things out there to get righteously angry about. But honestly that feels like I’d just be sinking to the level of that man who will be our president.

I’m not leaving for Canada or any nonsense like that. I actually think God doesn’t smile to fondly on people who leave the mission he’s set out for them. Let’s remember that a whale swallowed Jonah when he tried to run. If I’m sad or disappointed in what America seems to be, then I need to do something to make it better. That means writing about wrongs I see happening in the world. It means talking to people and finding out what they really need. And maybe it even means getting politically involved in the next seasons. I still need time to reflect, to mourn, to vent my anger in productive and not destructive ways. I’m still figuring this out even as I write.

I don’t know what the next four years are going to bring. None of us does. But I’m going to spend them being an American. I’m going to spend them as someone who greets others with love, who is loving of those with different colored skin, or religion, or sexual orientation, or class, or even political party. If Donald Drumpf seeks to enact policies that hurt people I love, I will do what I can to protect them. But I admit to being a little heartened that Mitch McConnell and a lot of other Republican senators have made it clear they want to defend a lot of what makes America what it is as well.

We’re all in this together. We all have ownership of this moment, no matter how we voted. If America isn’t the place we thought it was, then let’s do what we can to change that.

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