This article was cross-posted from the Portland Mercury.
Since yesterday, I've been unable to eat or sleep, and I've been fielding angry, shocked texts from my friends across the country and my female relatives. I'm in Beckett mode here, as I'm sure many of us are: I can't go on. I'll go on.
Yesterday's presidential election sucked for a lot of the people you know, in ways you may not even begin to be able to grasp, particularly if you are a straight white dude. Last night, as I watched a lifelong dream come crashing down in realtime, an orange know-nothing charlatan defeating an accomplished civil servant he had no business defeating, I was once again reminded of how much our country hates women and girls—and how that hatred was enabled electorally by the selfish act of protest-voting and insidious left-wing misogyny. If you cast a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, I hope you're happy knowing your symbolic act helped elect Trump, and that women, people of color, and LGBT folks will be paying the price. It's telling that when I spoke out about this on Twitter, I was instantly harassed by a local noted misogynist, proving my point in the dumbest way possible.
So yeah, it was a shitty night.
It felt as bad as the 2000 and 2004 elections, but worse, because so many of us were anticipating the election of the first woman president, and because what we got instead was validation that America's racism and sexism are alive and well.
What happened in this election shouldn't have happened. But even as it did, I remembered the cover of our sister paper, The Stranger, that came out following the 2004 election. It's a cover (and an accompanying story) that's stayed with me, because just reading it gave me a great amount of solace during a horrible time. I remember seeing it after I'd spent election night crying in a room full of unhappy Democrats at the downtown Westin while we watched the returns come in as George W. Bush was winning reelection and the gubernatorial campaign I'd volunteered for was too close to call, a night not unlike yesterday (just swap the Convention Center and the candidates).
Here's the text of the cover:
I was 17. I couldn't vote yet but I had spent my summer working on two campaigns, phonebanking and quietly freaking out whenever I saw US Senator Patty Murray in person. The day before the election, I'd been making GOTV calls and waving signs for John Kerry above I-5 in Seattle. I'd had faith in the democratic process, and I was heartbroken when it failed us.
2016 is not 2004. George W. Bush didn't even vote for Donald Trump. The threats we're facing—to reproductive rights, to immigrants, to people of color, to the LGBT community and the makeup of the Supreme Court—are real, and they are immense. Trump is poised to do incalculable damage to our country and our democracy.
We are facing a much more difficult road than we planned for. So hug your friends, drink your drinks, and do whatever you need to do to get through the next few days. Take care of each other.
And remember that you live in Oregon. You live in the state that last night officially elected the nation's first openly LGBT governor. You live in a state that values reproductive rights. You live in a state with marriage equality and legal weed. And we live in a country where Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, where she said in today's concession speech, "To the little girls who are watching, never doubt that you are valuable... and deserving of every chance in the world to pursue your dreams."
We can't go on. We'll go on.
Do not despair.