Wednesday, 23 November 2016
MY LATEST MUSING. "How could a woman at my age cry over an election?"
It was around 11 pm when my phone rang. I was alone, in front of the TV watching the results of the presidential election come in. Hillary was smashed by Trump.
Heartbroken, I sniffed and picked up the call. It was a close friend. As soon as I heard her voice, I burst into tears. It was as if her call broke the ice inside me and the avalanche flowed down my cheeks.
She asked, "Are you okay?" NO, I wasn't okay. I took off my glasses to wipe my tears. Heaving, I uttered my disbelief, "How could this happen?" Really, how could a woman at my age cry over an election?
Earlier that day, many friends had posted their pictures on Facebook wearing white suites, on their way to vote for Mrs Clinton. The mood was so happy. We were all so confident that Hillary would win.
At around 4pm on the same day, I turned on the TV to watch the result of the polls. And what I saw didn't cheer me up at all. I text-messaged my cousin in San Francisco. "Seems Trump is winning."
She texted me back, "Oh, no he's not. It's too soon. Very few states are in. Wait until New York and Florida are in." I waited and it didn't get any better.
Disappointed with the results, I decided to turn off the TV and head to my Tuesday evening art class. There, everybody was in a sombre mood. A friend had brought a bottle of champagne.
We could not see any hope for Hillary, Nonetheless, she opened the champagne and we sipped it from the plastic flutes. We were all so confident that we would finally see a woman president. But apparently white rural America thought different. They rooted for a candidate who was proven misogynist, openly hostile to people of color, immigrants and Muslims. And he had a slew of lawsuits in his business dealings.
I left my art class early and went back home. While driving my mind went to the night when Obama got elected for the first time.
On that Tuesday November 4, 2008, we had gathered as a family to watch the results of the presidential election on TV at my mom's home.
The atmosphere was very intense. My daughter’s phone was receiving ongoing text messages from her friends, first anticipating then congratulating Obama’s win in blue states.
My son Erik, the youngest in the family, was hired in Ohio for Obama's campaign. His participation in electing Obama as President made us feel that we were part of the process and the continuous buzz coming from my daughter’s cell phone summed up the excitement that consumed the family that night.
At 8 p.m., CNN, after closing off voting booths in California, announced Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Everything happened so quick, I definitely was not expecting such an easy victory. I was numb and it took me a while to realize the magnitude of what had just happened.
A few hours later, we watched Obama's Victory Speech at Grant Park in Chicago. We saw the sea of crowd, estimated 240,000 people, wave their flags and welcome the new President elect. It was nothing short of awe inspiring.
Of all the wonderful images from that victory rally, which will always stay with me, two moved me to the tears. One was when the camera caught Rev. Jesse Jackson with tears welling down his face and the other was seeing Oprah crying by leaning on a friend’s shoulder.
Back to 2016. I didn't have the heart to hear Trump's Victory Speech, but I did anyway. For many, including my circle of acquaintances, Trump's presidency was unthinkable. How could Americans with a sound mind choose a president, who stood in front of a crowd and mocked a disabled person or spewed racism. This was beyond me.
A few days after the election, I had the opportunity to hear President Obama's Press Conference which revolved around President-elect Trump. His sage words put me somewhat at ease.
Two things he said made a lot of sense to me. First, "You can't put the Genie back in the bottle." Then, "When your team loses, everybody gets deflated. And it's hard, and it's challenging. And I think it's a healthy thing for the Democratic Party to go through some reflection…I think we want to see new voices and new ideas emerge—that's part of the reason why term limits are a really useful thing."
As I write this, it is about two weeks after the election, I have adjusted myself to the reality. Since the election night, there have been continuous Demonstrations against Trump presidency in major US cities. The demonstrators say that Trump threatens human and civil rights.
LA mayor, Eric Garcetti and mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, leaders of the nation's two largest cities, both pledged that those cities will remain immigrant sanctuaries.
Would Donald Trump's presidency be a disaster for the working class? Could Trump's budget cuts send millions of families into deeper poverty? How about Obamacare, or food stamps and Medicare?
I find it difficult to be optimistic. However I pray that the dire predictions of disaster will be wrong. Perhaps if enough good people can be effective in fighting the negative plans, some positive things will happen. I hope so.