On the election, and feeling unsafe

sadness

 

I canvassed for Hillary on Monday.  I live in a swing state, so I took my three year-old daughter out with me and a fellow Democrat to knock the doors of registered Democrats, remind them to vote, and see if they needed assistance finding or traveling to their polling place.  We set out at 9am with our clipboards and our Hillary pins and went around town.  Most people smiled and thanked us for getting out the vote.  Some expressed concern with the election.  One slammed the door in my face.  But overall it was a morning filled with hope, kindness, and mutual respect.

As we walked down one cul-de-sac, a man drove up and jumped out of his car.  He started yelling at us: “Don’t bother stopping by my house!  I’m a Trump voter!”

We smiled and responded, “We won’t then!  Have a nice day!”

He came closer.  “You know, you women are ignorant and stupid.  You need to watch some Fox News so that you can learn the truth and know your real place in the world.”

We kept walking.  “We feel good and informed about our vote.  Have a nice day.”

He came closer, standing uncomfortably close to us.  “You know what would really make the world a better place?  Having less Hillary supporters in it.”

We turned around to face him.  “Well, one of the beautiful things about this country is that we can each believe what we want and agree to disagree.  Have. A. Nice. Day.”

We turned around and kept walking.  And he followed us.  He followed us with a grin on his face, knowing that his physical intimidation was working.  After a few minutes, he finally peeled off and walked back to his house.  At the time I felt annoyed, but not overly upset.  We made a few half-hearted jokes about it as we continued our work, finished up, and went home.

And then I shook.  I shook for a solid hour.  I shook and I cried.  I felt ashamed that I hadn’t been more forceful – that I hadn’t yelled or screamed or called the police.  I felt that I hadn’t done enough to protect my daughter from him.  The “what-ifs” started scrolling through my brain: what if he had been carrying a weapon? What if he had grabbed at us?  What if he hadn’t stopped following us?  What if he did something to my child?  And oh my heavens, what if Trump wins?!  What if he wins and this kind of behavior is even further legitimized?!

And he did.  He won.  Donald Trump is the next president of my country.  And you know what?  I’m scared of the kind of policies and laws he will support.  I’m scared of his executive actions.  I hope that he will surround himself with people who have restraint and who embody good judgment.

But more than being afraid of his policies, I’m afraid of people like the man who followed me.  I’m afraid of the people who drive through my town, flying the confederate flag with bumper stickers that say “grab them by the p****!”  I’m afraid of the people who supported Trump, not primarily because they were afraid of Hillary Clinton or more liberal leadership, but because he embodied their racist, sexist, ableist, and xenophobic sensibilities.  I worry that these people will be approaching more women on the street, more people of color, more queer folk, and harassing us.  Or threatening us.  Or harming us.

I have a lot of takeaways from this election, but the primary is one is that, as a woman, I feel wholly and viscerally unsafe.

Liz

Liz is a reader, writer, wife, mother, gardener, social worker, story collector, cookie-maker, and hug-giver.

You may also like...

23 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    Trump brought out the worst in people. It’s horrifying they now feel emboldened to harass you as that man did. The thing I can’t wrap my mind around is that everyone knew what Trump was — a bully, reactionary, sexist, assaulter, xenophobic, the list goes on — but so many still supported him. How did it ever come to this. I feel unsafe too. And hopeless.

  2. Diane says:

    I feel the same way you do. Let us pray. I would very much like to post this column on my Facebook page, if you will allow.

  3. Wally says:

    I’m a white male Mormon, 60 years old. But I’m an anomaly. I’m a Democrat. I fear for my country for the first time in my life. I feel like I have woken up in Germany in the 1930s. Hopefully Trump will not do too much damage before the disenfranchised voters who elected him realize he has no solutions for them and turn their anger against him in 2020.

  4. Suzanne says:

    Powerful post. Last night I felt hopeless, and defeated, as well. This morning, a switch flipped on inside me. I feel emboldened. Empowered. I’m not going to be quiet anymore. I will stand up for myself and others. I will not defer my rights and feelings to bullying of any kind.Together we are powerful. The world is still turning. We are here.

  5. Jenny says:

    I feel it too Liz. I’m still in shock. I felt like we were making progress. I didn’t know how far behind we really were.

  6. Nancy Ross says:

    Liz – thank you for canvassing. I’m sorry that this happened. I hope that you will someday tell this story to grandchildren and they will think that you will all laugh because you and they will all live in a world that does a better job of respecting women and other underrepresented groups and that incidents like this will feel like a distant past.

  7. Libby says:

    This. But in the words of one of my wise friends, “Today we morn; tomorrow we fight like hell.”

  8. EFH says:

    Trump has given permission to jerks to act up. Just this morning a friend of mine texted me that as she was waiting in line at starbucks, an old creepy man came close and while looking at all women started laughing and saying: “yes, grab them by the pussy”. This will be the beginning of a great fight for women and girls. Don’t loose hope.

  9. Shannon says:

    I’m a Mormon republican and voted for Trump. I do t say that to anger anyone, but I am just wondering if some of you ladies could enlighten me on why you voted for Hillary knowing about all the things that she has done? I’m not trying to get anyone upset, just genuinely curious. Any liberal that I have tried to discuss their views with gets very defensive and upset and won’t tell me.

    • Gini says:

      Hi Shannon, thank you for your question.
      I voted for Hillary because I was genuinely excited about her policies, especially her more progressive policies like better family policies for working mothers, maternity leave. She also supports making decisive steps towards preventing further climate change, which is absolutely imperative that we deal with in the near future.
      I’m an independent and researched the candidates thoroughly. The more that I looked into Hillary’s so-called scandals, the more that they seemed like unsubstantial accusations that fell apart under any real scrutiny. Not that she has a clean slate, but that she hasn’t done anything damnable.
      Trump, on the other hand, seems to be the opposite. The more you scrutinize his faults and scandals, the more horrific they are.

  10. cj says:

    Don’t stereotype all who voted for Trump. Middle America tired of being scolded, branded as all deplorable and worrying about the reality of there everyday lives. It’s more a referendum against the last 8 years, bailout of Wall Street while homeowners drowned, poor govt healthcare design, stagnant wages, etc.

    • Nancy Ross says:

      And so voting for a sexist, homophobic, racist, ableist, xenophobe who doesn’t pay taxes or his bills on building projects is a good way to solve the problems of middle America? He has no record of public service to prove that he can/will/attempt to fix any of those problems.

    • Liz says:

      I understand that not all voters chose Trump because of his sexism/homophobia/racism/ableism/xenophobia. I know that many people voted for him for exactly the reasons you described. But the problem is that, in doing so, those voters privileged things like wages and healthcare over bigotry and the lived micro-and macro-aggressions against people of color, queer people, women, and immigrants. I get that you weighed the pros and cons and chose what was most important. It’s just that it feels like my safety and the safety of others doesn’t really matter as much as economic issues. I know that everybody is making a choice, but this overwhelming choice by so many voters makes me feel fundamentally unsafe in my skin.

  11. Gemma says:

    I work at BYU. About a year or so ago I’d regularly see a big black pickup truck flying Confederate flags in the truck bed, sporting thinly-veiled white power bumper stickers, parked in a lot very close to the administration building. Every time I’d pass it, I’d recoil, knowing that someone on campus, likely a student, would espouse such hate — I can only imagine how it felt for students and staff members of color who needed to walk past that truck to get into the building to deal with financial aid or other business. I share the fear that this election will embolden people like that truck owner. It’s emboldened old white men in my ward to share their racism and misogyny over the pulpit and in Sunday School. Today the world feels a like I’m walking through a giant parking lot full of hate-filled bumper stickers directed at minorities, women, and other marginalized groups, and I question how many of the people around me who shout morality!!!! from the rooftops are privately more than happy to espouse xenophobia and a crotch-grabbing narcissist in the name of political opportunism. Who may not fit the stereotype, but are happy to hitch a ride in the hate-mobile.

  12. Florida Lady says:

    Shannon, I will take you at your word and try to explain as best I can. I do not speak for all Hilliary voters, and you know there were many millions with their own reasons. Hillary was not my first choice. I wanted to see a more contested primary with substantive debates. I felt like the fix was in for her long before the primaries started. As the campaigns progressed, Trump insulted and marginalized more and more groups of people. He told lies that could readily be confirmed as lies by credible sources. Not disagreements, differences of opinion, or misunderstandings of complex situations, just outright lies. He ridiculed and villified people’s religious beliefs. He accused the father of a MOA winner of a sexist religious practice. He threatened people from the podium. He said he wants to limit free speech, fredom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. He advocated for a militarized police state. He intimated that all African Americans are thugs from urban ghettos. Many of these things feel disrespectful of values we have long held as Americans, When the sexual assault video became public with his assertion that you can do anything when you are a star, followed by revelation of numerous credible victims of unwanted sexual contact, that was the last straw for me. It said this man has no moral boundaries and will disregard anyone to get what he wants. This is a man with whom no person can feel safe. Hillary has some baggage, but nothing that rose to that level of absolute disregard for personal boundaries. Knowing the unliklihood of anyone but Clinton or Trump to win, I voted for her. She is flawed, but for me, he is completely toxic. These are my reasons. Your thoughts may differ. Each of us must trust that people are making a good faith effort here and in the election.

  13. Dava Marriott says:

    My guess is that it was YOUR calmness that MADE you and your child safe in such a scary situation. Good job, mom!

  14. Vajra 2 says:

    Dearest Liz, thank you so much for your dedication and courage. If your daughter remembers this I think she will remember that her mother is a strong- heart warrior who chose non-violence in the face of hostile misogyny and bigotry. I remember the night President Obama was elected and the huge crowd that stood in the dark holding hands, embracing each other, in awe that we had come so far. Or so we thought. Little did we know that the GOP was planning to obstruct President Obama in every initiative, even if the initiative had originally been a GOP effort. Last night a man yells “kill Obama kill Obama” with impunity. So I salute you for your courage and send you my love.

  15. Dani Addante says:

    I am so sorry that this man treated you that way. That was horrible of him to do that. You handled it very well. You accepted that he would vote for whom he wanted, but he wanted to harass someone who wanted to vote differently than him. I hope he later felt ashamed of how he treated you.

    Anyway, I’ve been feeling really sad that Trump won, and I’m taking a bit of comfort in thinking that the media may have exaggerated some of the things about him. During campaigns, it seems that the media takes any scrap of negative info it can find and writes about it. I also take comfort in the fact that he’s not a dictator, so he can’t do whatever he wants.

  16. Patty says:

    There was a man on the PBS Newshour tonight (Steve Deace) and although he was very articulate, he also seemed very angry. Because of the way the election went and the media’s failure to catch and reflect his demographic, Judy Woodruff seemed rather subdued and apologetic. Darn. I don’t think I can live with 4 years of this.
    I’m not sure I am comforted that his election persona was just an act. Even if it was just an act (and I don’t think that blatant egotism like his can be faked), what does it say about him that he would use a persona like that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *