The Day After

Dear America,

You’re not the country I thought you were.

None of us know what to say. We're shell-shocked. This doesn’t feel real. Even the winners didn’t expect to win.

This is no standard presidential campaign loss. This is uncharted territory.

I can’t write or say the winner’s name. It’s too upsetting.

I hate polls right now. Every last one of them, including Nate Silver. They all cloud our vision of the electorate. I have no interest in reading the hand-wringing of the punditry on this in the coming days.

I hate the fact that a man so clearly unfit, so clearly narcissistic, so unprepared, so undeserving, so bloody disinterested - a man who had seemed more prepared to go on vacation on Nov. 9 then get to work - has been voted into the highest office in the world.

I have no doubt that a man in his seventies is not going to change his spots simply because he is now occupying a house that is white. Having said that, it’s never been fully clear what those spots actually are.

I wonder if I should have wet my bed more than I did.

I am exhausted. I have been pulling 16 to 18 hour days for more than five days now, working on the final push on the Hillary Clinton campaign. After watching these results, it was a sleepless night. 

I am heartbroken. I have shed more tears this morning than I have shed in I don’t know how long.

I have cried for the friends I’ve made in Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania, who worked their heart out with me on this campaign, some of them for more than two years, some of whom are of Mexican heritage or from the LGBTQ community, all of whom turned their own lives upside down to elect the first female president of the United States. I am so proud of all of them for their dedication and commitment, and I feel privileged to know them.

I have cried for President Barack Obama, whose decency, humanity and legacy has been roundly repudiated by the loss not only of the White House, but also of the Senate.

I have cried for Michelle Obama, who must be feeling a pain for her husband, her daughters and the America she helped make better beyond any of our imagination.

I have cried for my nieces and nephews who will have to grow up in this new, harsh world.

I have cried for the elderly and disabled and sick, some of whom are dear to me, whose lives will be affected by this result in more ways than we can know, and who are more powerless to stop it than those of us in good health.

Regardless of what happens next, I am deeply distressed by the legitimacy this win has cemented. I am distressed by the legitimacy of hatred; by the legitimacy of wanton dismissal of people’s gender, feelings, heritage, capacity and experience; by the legitimacy of appealing to people’s basest fears and desires as a way to win power.

I am deeply distressed by the legitimacy this win has cemented for a broken Republican party, led by a group of spineless leaders who sought power over moral courage. Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio… I am looking at you. All of you who did not step up at the most important moment in your careers trivialize the gravity of your office, regardless of whether some voters gave you a mandate.  

I am deeply distressed by this new normal.

I am terrified that a man so unfit to be president will now have access to the nuclear codes. I have no doubt my terror equals the terror of all the American generals who denounced him.

I am confused and saddened by the fact that the electorate didn’t place the winner’s lack of moral standards and basic humanity above their own interests.

I am worried about the future of race relations and gun violence in these 50 states.

I am dismayed by the power that Twitter and all of social media’s echo chambers have had in this election, and I am angry by the power of irresponsible outfits like Wikileaks.

I am confused by the ability of the winner to have achieved a clear victory without any ground game. Part of me now questions the use of field operations, and as someone who has worked in the field for the past two months, I am  aware of its significant flaws.

Yet as someone who has been in the field for the past two months, I am also certain of the power of day-to-day voter-volunteer contact. I remain convinced that a conversation at the door is more powerful than even a civil Twitter discussion. We Democrats just need a lot more of them, and with many more who are not just other registered Democrats.

I’m not going to lie. I am upset at some of my friends who don’t have children and spent more time on Facebook than knocking on doors in this election. Some had real limitations, many did not.

Just like people who didn’t get involved because they weren’t inspired like they were in 2008, I am dismayed by the people I met on the street, and by some people I know, who chose not to vote because they didn’t like either candidate. The power of a vote has nothing to do with whether or not you like the candidates. In the words of a wise man I know, “we vote because we should and because we can.”

I am worried that even people who voted - and people whose first presidential election was this one - will start thinking their vote really doesn’t matter.

I am worried that America’s citizens, who have already lost significant faith in their own institutions this election cycle, will continue to be distrustful of the media, the FBI, the White House, the Democratic National Committee, and Washington itself.

It’s obvious by now to all of us that America has for far too long ignored and underestimated the anger and frustration of so many of its citizens, and has failed in reaching out. And its leaders - corporate and political, particularly on the right - have been largely absent in standing up to hatred everywhere.

But like its citizens, America has the right - and obligation - to live up to its own potential as a country. And as Hillary has pointed out so many times, America is full of big-hearted people.

I am so proud to say I worked with so many big-hearted people on this campaign. I have no regrets at all about the work we’ve done together the last few months.

And despite all my many worries, I hope big-hearted people across America see this as a wake-up call. It’s time to set aside assumptions and disgust and come together. It’s time to travel, listen and learn with no preconceived notions. It’s time to shut off 24/7 social media and open real doors. It’s time to distinguish between unacceptable behavior and legitimate anger.

It’s time to step up the fight for decency, humility, humanity and respect. It’s not time to run to Canada, or the Caribbean, or anywhere else.

There is no other way forward.

America, I clearly need to get to know you better. But I remain here for you.


Ideas for Next Steps

Thoughts, October 26, 2016