What It Felt Like To Vote For Hillary In A Red State
On the morning of November 8, I did two astounding things. I woke up at 5 a.m. without hitting snooze once, and then I literally helped make history by voting for Hillary Clinton. Even though Hillary lost the presidency to Donald Trump — a fact that has left me feeling simultaneously numb, sick to my stomach, and horrified — I still think voting for her might have been one of the most exciting things I've ever done. That said, since I voted for Hillary in a red state, casting my ballot for HRC was way more anxiety-inducing than I expected it to be. In fact, I was so anxious to find my polling place and get out my vote that my hands were shaking before, during, and after I cast my ballot.
To be clear, my nerves about voting for Hillary weren't due to a genuine fear that Trump supporters would try to physically punish me for voting for Hillary Clinton. Since I'm a self-proclaimed raging, feminist killjoy who lives in the bowels of Trump country, however, I was genuinely worried about being verbally accosted. I figured it was an inevitability that something dumb would happen at my polling place that would piss me off or leave me feeling uneasy. After all, small-town Missouri is a super pro-life place with a legitimate gun culture, and the majority of voters around here harbor a dislike for Hillary that borders on real hate. Plus, before today, I'd never voted Democrat while residing in the Show Me State, so I didn't know what to expect. For all these reasons and a few more, the whole voting process left me feeling vulnerable. When I walked into my polling place (it was a church) around 8 a.m., I felt like I might as well have been wearing a hot pink shirt that read:
Hello, my name is Liz. I'm a pot-smoking bi-sexual who loves premarital sex and The Gays. I'm not convinced your God exists, and I think the right to choose is rad.
I know it might sound like I'm exaggerating, but if you've ever voted as an openly liberal, non-religious person in a small, conservative town, then you know I'm not. It's pretty much a fact that voting blue can be a genuinely unsettling experience when you reside in a red state. As I learned yesterday, though, it can also be an enlightening one.
After zero Trump supporters personally attacked me at the polls (or anywhere else throughout my day), I realized that I'd been assuming the majority of Trump's voters are inherently dangerous, despite the fact that so many of my loved ones (who supported Trump) have disproven this theory to me on multiple occasions. When I realized that I'd been expecting an attack that never came, I had to consider the possiblity that my admittedly valid fears of a Trump presidency have led me to become alienated from so many Americans — and that is an outcome that I simply refuse to allow to continue.
Does it make me sick that the first Commander in Chief my nieces will have any memory of is going to be Donald Trump? Of course it does. A Trump presidency doesn't have to be the end of America as we know it, though, and it certainly doesn't have to create strife and negativity between liberals and the conservatives that they love. I know it's difficult, but we all need to practice self-awareness right now. We must strive to remain hopeful and positive. For whatever reason, the majority of Americans felt compelled to elect Donald Trump as their president, and being unkind to one another won't change that. These sentiments and more are just a few of the things I learned from voting for Hillary in a red state.
It Made Me More Appreciative Of My Like-Minded Missourians
Throughout Election Day, seeing the Facebook posts of my many liberal friends here in Missouri (like the one above) helped me feel a little bit less alone as a Hillary supporter living in a red state. Though most of my liberal friends who are still living in MO are two hours away in St. Louis or six hours away in Kansas City, just seeing their status updates gave me the support I so desperately needed. Like-minded liberals are like precious freaking stones in these parts, and after today, I won't take them for granted again.
It Pushed Me To Be More Understanding Of Trump Supporters
I won't pretend that I'm not upset with the Americans who put Trump in office. I can't help but feel deeply concerned about the fact that a man who was endorsed by the KKK, and has been accused of alleged sexual assault by multiple women, is now the leader of the free world. However, my whole family voted for Trump, so painting all Trump supporters as ignorant jerks has never been an option for me. Yes, it bothers me that my family voted for a man who I personally think is basically pure evil. But my family's also great. They love and support me, despite the fact that they think I'm a literal heathen who voted for Hillary Clinton. They give stray animals homes, they've talked me down from countless anxiety attacks, and they stopped trying to convert me to Christianity years ago.
My family's example of how chill Trump supporters can be was a constant comfort to me throughout Election Day, and it continues to comfort me now. All day Tuesday I kept thinking, if my family can support Trump and still be genuinely nice, then maybe the U.S. will be OK no matter who wins this election. Now that we know for sure who the winner is, I hope I was right.
It Re-Affirmed My Political Beliefs
Although nothing crappy happened at my poling place, I endured a ton of negative election talk throughout the day, and it was both mentally and emotionally draining. Right after I cast my vote, I went to my side gig of tutoring college kids and international students in English. While I was trying to work, I overheard so many anti-Hillary comments that I and the other liberal tutors had to keep moving from one table to another throughout the day just to get away from all the negativity.
As frustrating as this was, it only made me feel more committed to my chosen candidate and my political beliefs. What's more is, the fact that Hillary lost the presidential election only makes me feel that much better about voting for her. Yes, it sucks that my candidate was defeated by a man who has threatened to overturn the Supreme Court's decision on gay marriage. And, yes, it hurts my heart that any American who isn't a straight, cisgender, white male might be in for a terrible four years — but it gives me peace that I did what little I could do to prevent a Trump presidency. Hillary may have lost, but I still got to make history by voting for her.
This election cycle has shown me that I won't be able to live somewhere quite this conservative forever. But over the past six months, being in the minority as a liberal voter has only worked to re-affirm where I stand politically — and that feels pretty good.
Hillary's Loss Has Strengthened My Feminism And Made Me Even More Appreciative Of My Job
Even though my heart is broken right now, I know things could be worse. Not only do I believe that my loved ones prove that not all Trump supporters are hateful bigots, I'm in a unique position as a liberal feminist living in conservative, rural America. Yes, I'm honestly terrified of what Trump's America is going to look like — but I feel luckier than ever that I have a solid, supportive platform where I can continue to call out Donald Trump's bull sh*t. The genuine disgust I feel over the confirmation of a Trump presidency has given my work and my feminism new meaning. I feel more inspired than ever to use my privilege and my position as a writer to give women, the LGBT community, disabled persons, people of color, and immigrants a voice in Trump's America. Hillary's loss has only worked to embolden this nasty woman, and I couldn't be more stoked to spend the next four years making my voice heard.
Images: Elizabeth Enochs, Feminist Apparel/Instagram, ATTN