The New Normal

So, here we are.

Everything has already been said. I can’t offer you any insight, any hot take, any anything that doesn’t already exist on the internet. But we’re here and there’s no way I’m not going to talk about it.

I am lucky enough, at the age of 29, not to have lost any super-close loved ones yet in my life. Somehow, all four of my grandparents are still alive at the time of this writing. So no, I DON’T know what it’s like to go through the wracking, all-encompassing grief that accompanies the loss of someone important to you.

That said, from my limited viewpoint, this election feels like something approximating that level of grief.

I am heartbroken and gutted. At times I still can’t believe it. Election Day, and every day that came before it, seems like a happy dream. The life that I lived back then, the problems I encountered, were small and inconsequential compared to the hellscape facing us now.

I am worried for my friends. I am worried for people around the country and the globe whose lives will be difficult and traumatic because of this. I walk down the street and I look at people and I wonder who they voted for, or if they voted at all. In Chicago it doesn’t make much difference, I know–we’re the element that makes Illinois a blue state every time. But still, I wonder. I hear someone laugh and I wonder what allows them to laugh right now.

I have enough trust in the system of checks and balances, and the overall sluggish bureaucracy of Washington, to believe that maybe, in the best case, Trump will simply be a bad, ineffective president who fails to deliver on any of his ludicrous, half-baked promises. That’s the best possible outcome. But even in the best case, this is where we are right now. The votes came in and Trump won, because enough people believed in him to pull the lever on his behalf. Even in the best case, his being elected has incited violence around the country. He has given legitimacy to the worst that humanity can be. That’s what worries me, almost more than the damage he will do in office–the fact that he ran a campaign based on fear, hatred, and lies, allowing those same impulses to flourish and run rampant among us.

I think back to the things I was worried about a week, two weeks ago. I had anxieties about my job performance, about my acne medication, about the fact that I mostly sit in a chair at work and it’s bad for me and we’re all going to die from weak lower backs and slumped shoulders. I was following the election closely, but in the way you watch someone with a sunburn slowly peel dead skin off their body or peer out the window of a car at a traffic accident. It was horrendous and mind-numbing, but at least, I thought, it would be over soon. I was wrong. Many of us were wrong.

I’m sorry to the people who always knew that this was a strong possibility. I see now how naive I was.

I know that things will never be quite the same. We’ll get through the next two, the next four, years, because time marches on and all things come to an end. But the reality that this man could actually make it to the Presidency will not go away. It’s real and we’re living it.

I’m sorry.

 

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