Last night, I was low-key crying over a gin and tonic, watching Donald Trump win the election over Hillary Clinton, and subsequently, it felt like our entire world fell apart. Turns out, I'm not alone, as there's a shared millennial shock over Trump winning the 2016 election. As the bar emptied out, I witnessed the surprise and disgust in all its forms: head-in-hands, fetal positioning, the walk of defeat back home, the Uber of defeat back home (me), and the one text message shrug of "Whatever, music is about to get really good." In short, plenty of people feel defeated and lost, and how can you not be when it seems like racism, misogyny, and ableism won the night?
Being political is not part of my brand, although somehow crying in a bar over a disappointing white guy is like, a huge part of my brand. So is writing articles that sound like I'm chatting with you over some gin and tonics. According to the rules of millennialism, you should never forsake your brand, and also you should like, really, really love the Harry Potter series. I plan to do both of those things for you today, now that President Voldemort is going into office. (Too soon for that comparison?)
But before I get to be your bar buddy, I need to be the Sobering Morning Phone Call To Your Dad Where You Are Bawling And He Has To Deliver Hard Facts. Not that I would know anything about this.
Hard Fact #1: There may have been overconfidence when it came to Clinton's victory, and a collective denial about just how unfairly hated she really is. The overconfidence factor may be a bit on her, maybe she wasn't campaigning hard enough in areas that needed it — apparently ignoring Wisconsin is frowned upon. I think the crux of her career downfalls, though, have always been deeply rooted in sexism. Paraphrasing my friend on the way to the polls, "I have no doubt she's a robot reptilian, but so are all politicians, that's how politicians work." The core reason it was an issue is because she's a woman, and for women especially, there's an intense stress on being likable versus "who's actually qualified."
She was supposed to carry the black, the women, the Latinx votes, and it just didn't pan out because... so many reasons, I'm sure. Long lines, voter intimidation? But also the reality that there were some people, like a certain middle-aged woman who had to break my heart Tuesday morning, who went into that booth with a hardened hatred of Clinton that they couldn't override for the greater good. I'm still with Her, and I don't agree with this, but that had to be a factor.
Hard Fact #2: Everyone underestimated the strength of rural areas because (Hard Fact #3) a lot of millennials move to progressive, metropolitan hubs and assume everyone shares their values (like "common sense" and "basic human decency.") I live in Liberal-AF North Brooklyn, and that setting made me believe that Bernie Sanders was actually going to pull out as the Democratic nominee. I remember being at a Sanders benefit show at The Gateway last December and thinking, "Huh, I guess this is going to be the guy." If your immediate community and your friends all hold the same beliefs, then you forget that there are a whole bunch of people in America who don't agree.
And then there's Hard, Ugly Theory #1 1/2: We have been too busy huddled into the comforts of nostalgia and nonchalance to really notice what's going on. Not literally, but just check out the 'member berries from South Park to get a taste of how we, millennials especially, retreat into the past as a sedative when our current world is a disaster. Now, my living is based on dealing out that sedative, and I have a lot of fun with it, so I'm horrified to think that our obsession with the '90s ladened us with some Gen-X apathy. Based on every single passionate Facebook status I've seen in the last year, I don't necessarily believe that's the correlation, or at least the damning factor to how we let Trump win. I do, however, want to quote Winona Ryder in Reality Bites in saying that if you're still wondering how we accept this disappointment and repair all this damage we've inherited, "The answer is ... I don't know."
I have no idea. But I'm now ready to drink and chat.
Look, like I said, I am not hyper-political. If you're looking for a course of action, I don't have any organized game plan beyond, "Let's Les Miserables this," and I've only watched the movie version like, once. On a base level, though, it is imperative that we don't roll over and die, and it is imperative that we fight harder than ever for our personhood.
I don't want us to abandon the qualities that makes our generation wonderful. We still should to chase our impractical artistic dreams and share videos of dachshunds playing hockey. We still should, and really need to, have a sense of humor during the next four years. But more than anything, we need to have our voices heard, even if that ends with us kicking and screaming. In the face of injustice, we should vow to be loud and nasty... and kind. A map showing how the 18-25 demographic voted shows overwhelming blueness, and that means the future of America isn't down with misogyny and racism (swell), and that in itself should breed some sort of hope.
As tempting as it is to pack your bags for Canada (or Manchester for me, to fulfill my lifelong dream of being with a British dude), I'm begging you to stay, to fight, and to not let this be Trump's nation. Don't let fear and hatred rule over the country. Remember when the Slytherins decided to cower in the dungeons during the Battle of Hogwarts? I think some of them ended up coming back eventually, but like, let's all remember that — and then not be like that.
More than ever, we need to be strong and band together, because we can't get through this disappointment without each other. And if that doesn't work ... hey, at least the music's going to get really good.
Images: Giphy (4)