When Donald Trump won the electoral vote after the presidential election on November 8, the majority of us — by more than a million — were deeply disappointed with the results. In the ensuing days, we battled our depression and wondered what had gone so terribly wrong. Collectively, we imagined what a Trump presidency would mean for civil rights and civil liberties, for the economy and the environment, for education and for health care.
And those of us championing women’s right to bodily autonomy worried that reproductive justice had never been in more danger. Those of us concerned with the safety of the LGBTQ community were terrified that their hard-won gains might be rolled back. Those of us standing in solidarity with other marginalized groups — immigrants, religious minorities, refugees, people of color — were filled with anxiety at the thought that Trump’s hate-filled campaign had empowered bigots to let their prejudice reign free.
Here, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona bloggers have collected their thoughts to share with our readers.
I was always inspired by Hillary’s words to the United Nations in 1995, when she said that “Women’s rights are human rights.” Whenever a woman’s reproductive and sexual rights are denied, I take it personally, for it is telling her that she is less of a person and does not have the same rights as I do as a male. So I will resist in whatever ways I can the ignorant, misogynist forces unleashed in this election. I will stand tall with this organization I love, and will openly show my support. One thing we can all do right now is to wear our Planned Parenthood T-shirts whenever we can. It’s a little thing, but it’s guaranteed to make you feel better during these dark days. I wear mine at least two or three times a week, on my walks downtown or when attending various events. It is surprising to me how often I’ve attended large public gatherings and not seen one other Planned Parenthood shirt. Let’s all get out there with our T-shirts and turn Arizona pink. Let’s tell everyone that this is our country, too — one where women have the same rights as men.
There have been many disappointing election results in my lifetime, but this was the first election that made me cry. I cried for all the girls out there, who were receiving the same lesson that my generation and all of those before me received: that the most qualified woman will still be overlooked in favor of the least qualified man — especially if he yells the loudest — and that women are still expected to live their lives as if they are contestants in pageants, their “likability” valued above all else. The double standard was especially overt during this year’s campaign, given how off-putting Clinton’s opponent was.
But I didn’t vote for Clinton because she was a woman. I voted for Clinton because she would build on Obama’s legacy, for example, by protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act. She would be a staunch defender of reproductive rights — she even campaigned on a promise to overturn the Hyde Amendment. And I believed that she would enact policies that would help the vast majority of us live better lives — not to help a few wealthy Americans get even richer.
I also didn’t vote for Clinton just because she WASN’T Trump — but it sure helped. I couldn’t believe how much vitriol that man spewed — and that it never seemed to hold him back. Bragging about sexually assaulting women? Check. Making statements about religious groups that sounded dangerously close to what Nazi Germany did to Jews? Check. Failing to repudiate enthusiastic endorsements from the KKK and other white supremacists? Check.
I now must accept that I don’t live in the country I thought I did. I thought I lived in a country with a shameful legacy of racism, and entrenched systemic racism that still needed to be overcome — but a country that was, nonetheless, getting BETTER. But Trump’s campaign of hatred and bigotry won the swing states and the electoral college. For all the progress we’ve made, this backlash is telling us that too many people bitterly resent that progress. They think justice is a pie, and when more people receive it, there is less pie for them. They don’t realize that justice is air, and that we can all breathe freely when the hands of oppression don’t wrap themselves around our necks, choking us.
More people than I can count, from bloggers to columnists to social scientists, have offered explanations of what drove the vitriol that was aimed at Hillary Clinton in the months before the 2016 election. Even if I disagreed with it or couldn’t relate to it, I could understand that vitriol, at least in an academic sense. What I was less prepared to understand, and still cannot accept, was how so many voters could either share or tolerate Donald Trump’s hostility toward the many population groups he insulted — and furthermore threatened with policies that could tear apart families and dismantle individual legal protections.
I had felt certain that his politics of hate would be roundly rejected, especially when the vast majority, either through our own identities or those of the people we care about, must be connected to at least one of the many groups he has targeted: LGBTQ people, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, and people with disabilities, to name some of them. He had even insulted veterans. Most of all, he repeatedly made derogatory remarks about women and was exposed as someone who had bragged about committing sexual assault.
Already we are doing damage control. In the wake of the election, racial animus and other bigotry have been emboldened by Trump’s victory. Reported incidents of hate crimes are already in the hundreds. But while the reactions of his supporters reach a boiling point, Trump himself has been unpredictable, backtracking on some of his more ominous campaign promises and even surprising people with out-of-character tolerance. At a town hall just days after the election, he commented that transgender people should be able to use the bathrooms they feel are most appropriate. In his first television interview after the election, when asked about same-sex marriage, he replied, “These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled, and I’m fine with that.”
Trying to make sense of it, I commented on social media, “This guy is all over the map lately, but I still don’t like the map I’m looking at.” A person who only plays nice after getting his way — in this case, after winning an election — is still a dangerous person, especially if playing nice is only a tactic to disarm his critics, to calm us until our guards are down. He is still committed to appointing anti-choice Supreme Court Justices. (But people who carry their pregnancies to term won’t have it easy, either; his tax plan, according to Forbes, would increase the burden on single parents and large families.) He is still appointing far-right extremists like Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Frank Gaffney to his cabinet and transition team. As long as he is still the hate-monger we saw during his campaign, our guards will have to remain up until he leaves the White House.
Admittedly, I have never taken elections to heart. Someone gets elected who I don’t like, I simply lobby the ones who support me and vote against the ones I don’t like during the next round. Yet, as I watched the elections on November 8, I went to bed early to avoid seeing the results. I awoke with the most sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just could not soothe. Not only was a man elected who flies in the face of everything I am passionate about, but he has all of the minions that he needs on his side in the House, Senate, and, soon, the Supreme Court.
I feel suffocated by hatred, judgment, and fear. It is in the air. It is on the lips of my peers and, more disturbingly, it is on the lips of children. I have already been told that I need to “shut up and accept our new country” because I am being a “whiny libtard.” Well, I hate to disappoint, but I was never a “go with the flow” type of gal.
I stand with the countless others who feel threatened or afraid, not just for our country, but the worldwide ramifications of this election. However, I refuse to let that fear rule me. I woke up the morning after elections to see that a man who threatens my freedoms as a woman, even my freedoms as a human being to breathe fresh air and have access to clean water, win the presidency of the United States. Perhaps more disturbing are the millions of Americans who promised to help him strip me of my basic rights. My best friend called me, hysterical, because she is afraid she won’t have a place in New America.
As I told her: Well, sister, dark times lie ahead. There is no doubt about that. But I believe these people supported Trump because they were unhappy with the direction of the country. That’s OK. They aren’t evil. Misled, maybe, but not evil. Our voices cannot echo the same hatred and anger that is ringing through the streets right now. We must transcend that. Am I angry? Hell yes. But I am going to channel that anger to push forward, double down my efforts to defend my freedoms and those of every man, woman, child, and animal. More than ever, we need to rise above, stay together, and stay focused. That is what I want my son to see and replicate. And for every person who is afraid like my friend, remember the millions who stood by you. We are still here and we still have your back.
Here at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, we are still processing what the 2016 election means for us and the people we serve. Rest assured, in the next few weeks we are getting to work on what comes next. And when we do, we look forward to having you take part. For now, you can support us by:
- sharing your Planned Parenthood story by going to tiny.cc/ppazstory
- donating on our website at ppaz.org or advocatesaz.org
- submitting a volunteer information form on our website at ppazvolunteer.org. We will contact you when we have opportunities for you to get involved.
We know from our 100-year history that despite adversity we will come out stronger. Thank you for standing with Planned Parenthood!