There’s a lot of noise in America today but last night… last night was brutal. I curled up in bed around 9.30 PM, having reluctantly voted earlier that day. I know I wasn’t the only one who begrudgingly went to vote; countless memes popped up throughout social media making light of how they didn’t like either of the candidates but felt morally and socially obligated to make a decision. So we did. I think there’s good chunk of Millennials who, just months ago, saw a refreshing ray of hope in Bernie Sanders, a man who looked like a grandfather and felt like home. We spread mad love his way but it wasn’t enough. Numbers showed the younger generation preferred Sanders over Clinton but I guess we were outnumbered.
“He’s a Jewish socialist. He wasn’t going to make it.”
When we realized voting for a 3rd party wouldn’t be effective and Clinton was the Democratic nominee, we said, “I don’t really like her but I guess she’s better than Trump.” So when November 8th rolled around we pursed our lips, rolled our eyes and said, “I’m not so much voting for Clinton as I am voting against Trump.” We had been feeling defeated since late July.
“I voted for her because it’s about time we had a female president.”
“I’d rather have another man than the wrong woman.”
Anyway. It’s 9.30 PM and I’m looking at a map of the US, updating live every 30 seconds as people across the country vote.
Time passes by, a sliver of the East Coast painted blue, like Paint-By-Numbers. Light blue at first. Then, in a burst of conviction, it turns dark blue.
And then it starts happening. Red. It starts in West Virginia and leaks north, northwest, west, southwest, south, southeast. West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, on and on. The states hemorrhaged one onto the next, bleeding bright red. I watched as some states started off as a soft red, signaling intent but leaving room for change, pop into solid red. Decision made. Next state. Some didn’t even hesitate. Texas switched from soft red to soft blue and back again a few times until it settled into red. The first red state snuggled itself into America’s gaping wound, soaked up all the blood it could, like a puffed up sponge – heavy, wet, red, angry, hopeful, desperate, spiteful. And when it took in all it could, it squished itself down with a vengeance and let the blood seep into the next porous state. It was like watching a drop of red ink drip into clear water to then disperse in a beautiful yet frightening murk.
By 11 PM it was clear. America was mostly red. Some states were a soft red but odds were they’d stay that way. The west coast lit up blue. But it wasn’t enough. America was blue on the edges with a few blue spots in the middle, like bruises. The rest was red. I fell asleep looking at the map and woke up again around 3.30 AM and checked one last time. Red.
“This isn’t really happening.”
“It doesn’t matter who the President is, it’s up to us as individuals to treat each other well.”
“The President is the face of America!”
“Unless you’re Native American or Mexican, you’re an immigrant. You get that, right?”
“Congress has more power.”
“Why would you vote for a third-party when you know they don’t stand a fighting chance? We could have used those votes!”
“I’m right. You’re wrong.”
Trump. Clinton. Democrat. Republican. Red. Blue. Noise.
Millennials everywhere expressed their disappointment via Facebook rants, curt and solemn Tweets, Instagram memes. I don’t think this is what we wanted but, as seems to be the general theme of our generation, it’s what we got. I get the appeal. He’s not just a politician, he’s a businessman. He’s different, jarring, new, a fire under your ass, and just maybe the kind of drastic change the US needs. We were all looking for something better. Most of my generation saw that in Bernie Sanders and even then we had a feeling it wouldn’t last:
I voted today. Like many people of my generation, I am somehow simultaneously jaded and hopeful, angry and determined, disillusioned and idealistic. We are said to be the first generation in the US to fail to surpass our parents’ economic successes. The American Dream has become my favorite fairytale. Still, I voted. Maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t. But, just in case it does. Or, maybe it was just something to do. This is the zeitgeist of our generation. April 26, 2016
At this point, we’re used to being handed down things we don’t want, situations we don’t deserve, debts we can’t afford. A part of me is incredibly jaded and has been for months, maybe even years. Another part of me sees this as just one more thing for Generation Y to trudge through, a chance for flowers to rise up above the weeds. Until then I think we’ll just keep trying on a smaller scale, surrounding ourselves with good people while striving to become better ourselves. Others may have yelled louder than us but we’re just starting to clear our throats.
© Leila Chammas, November 9, 2016