What just happened? Or should I say is still happening?
Like many of you, I'm still processing what's going on with the election. I tried to call it "emotional rollercoaster", but a friend told me that didn't do it justice. He said he was reminded of how he was younger, at a rather sketchy amusement park there was a ride in a thin cage that rotated inside another cage that rotated. Somehow it turned on before he and a few other riders could buckle themselves. So everyone went around and around and people started getting sick and barfing from all the gyrations, before it finally got turned off.
Well, I'm still waiting for that off button...
It all started so well, we had dinner early and I had my kids watch the election returns with us, thinking it'll be a positive family experience and a short night. (FiveThirtyEight gave it 90% chance right?) My 3rd grader just learned about the electoral college so we could see that in action together. As the night went on and the map turned more and more red and we started losing Florida, I had the awful feeling that it was like 2016 all over again. We told the kids to go to bed: we didn't want them to see anymore bloodshed.
I had a Zoom call going with my friends saying we could watch the election result together. Instead people dropped in at different times: we were all so transfixed on the latest numbers and feeling stressed out, the conversations didn't last very long. I began to think that the one friend who said he's just going to work and go to bed, and find out the results the next day had the right strategy.
My husband said I dozed off around 10:30 my usual bedtime. I woke up an hour later to find we barely progressed, the numbers still looked terrible like before. How could the polls be so wrong, again? I went to bed right before midnight feeling awful. Yes, worse than 4 years before. At least back then I could say maybe people were sick of being left behind economically and felt Trump articulated their pain as the outsider savior. But now they know better what an imposter he is, look at the raging pandemic, how could half the country still support someone like that? I felt hurt, sad, angry, and betrayed. My beloved adopted homeland America isn't what I thought it is.
The next morning was a very different day. Some states turned blue. Wait, more states turned blue! Trump claimed early victory but even Fox News said Trump overstepped. It even called Arizona for Biden. (Yes, I've started watching Fox News when I want the opposing view. Sometimes NY Times can be so one-sided that I started looking for some balance. You just have to tell the difference between Fox News the news program vs. their commentary which is extremely biased.)
Wow, maybe I should've paid more attention when they said the mail-in and early ballots tend to be more Democratic! Maybe the polls weren't that off (except for the Cuban-Americans in Florida). My friends sent me numbers on when states should get called. I felt hopeful: it'll be 2018 again!
Except it wasn't. Soon I found out we likely didn't get the senate majority. And our lead in the house got cut. What Blue Wave?? The count in Pennsylvania's painfully slow, we were losing ground in Arizona. It was not clear we'll catch up in Georgia. And Trump is filing lawsuits, and people are protesting in Arizona bringing guns! (And apparently it's not uncommon in Arizona for people to bring guns to public events, what??)
My friend from Brazil told me there everyone punches in who they want to vote for on a machine and half an hour after polls close, you'll know the election result. What kind of backwards country do we live in... with this albatross of electoral college and the painfully slow manual counting and possible re-counting. The 2000 election anyone??
Another day, another twist. Friday, Pennsylvania finally turned blue, and even Georgia too with the thinnest of margins. My mood turned with that. Maybe I'll finally get a chance to meditate and get back on track in calming my emotions. I've also had more time to reflect on things.
My emotions coach would probably say that I might want to consider accepting my feelings of confusion, lost and not-knowing. I probably need to meditate more, as, well I'm not quite there yet. Instead I've been scouring the internet to help me understand or validate my feelings.
Couple of late night bits I came across that helped me or resonated with me:
Yeah, it really hurts. Not just the sad thought of losing the election once again, but a real sense of grief over what we have lost.
Even in my own family, I have close relatives that support Trump. One from the older generation supports Trump because she lives in liberal California with generous benefits to undocumented immigrants. As a legal Chinese American immigrant she feels that's unfair. I also learned from NYTimes that there are Chinese language newspapers that are anti-China and pro-Trump that peddle right-wing propaganda. Maybe that's where my relative's been getting her news! Another older relative likes that Trump cuts taxes. That's for the older generation. Then there's one in my generation that registered to vote for the first time, because he's worried Bernie Sanders would take away his generous health benefits (that he gets from the city government he works for in place of a higher salary). That one thankfully had a happy ending: he and his wife ended up voting for Biden together.
My relatives are good people, not "deplorables". They worry about their self interest and that's totally human and natural. They have families they need to look out for, their retirement. Are they upset with Trump's personal failings and mishandling of Covid, yes they are. Do I wish they'd vote otherwise, certainly! Well, they probably think the same of me.
Maybe many of the Trump supporters are like my relatives. Good people who do see problems with Trump but also like aspects of what he offers. (I remember how I had supported Bill Clinton even after his scandal. I excused his moral failings because I liked his politics. Yes, that was before #MeToo, but still... )
Like where the election stands now, I have no simple answers for what's happening. And unlike the election, I'm not sure if there's ever gonna be a conclusive answer. I just know this... hating the other side won't get us where we want to go.
How are you feeling? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.