America, failure.

I have failed, America. I am sorry.

I have tried to pretend that I was making a difference.

I have written about women’s rights and I have written about white privilege and I have written about trying to make the best choices in a world that is full of compromise. I have written about my sadness and anger about Ferguson, about Brock Turner, about Orlando. If I change just one person’s mind, I thought, it is worth it. Even if change is slow.

I have not written much about this election. It just felt too hard. I was just so fucking sick of being told that Hillary was a crook, that Hillary was a criminal, that Hillary was a liar, when to answer “Hillary is a woman, and your charges have no evidence” became oppressive in its repetition, became frustrating because it was not heard. I stopped writing. I stopped arguing. I stopped advocating. I believed there were enough voices, better ones, who could persuade more effectively than I could. I believed that was enough.

I just thought everyone knew. That everyone knew that Trump is under investigation for defrauding citizens with Trump University. That he hasn’t paid federal income taxes in likely a decade. That he attacked a Gold Star family. That he threatened to build a wall to keep out immigrants, despite the fact that immigration has stagnated in this country. That he has been charged with rape and sexual assault. That he has mocked the disabled. That he has made a career out of declaring bankruptcy. That he has ruined the lives of low and middle-class workers who made the mistake of working for Trump enterprises. That everyone knew that he was a bombastic liar, a thrice-married adulterer, a serial misogynist, a racist xenophobe, an erratic con man. That so many prominent Republicans declared him a dangerous threat to our nation’s stability. That he has been endorsed by the KKK.

I thought everyone knew.

Maybe everyone does know. Maybe my fears about the death of journalism and the rise of internet hoax and meme culture are only partially to blame.

Maybe everyone knows, and just doesn’t care. And that’s the one that I don’t know how to fight.

I should have written more. That’s what I repeated to myself, as I curled in my bed last night, whispered to my partner who tried to tell me that this is bigger than any of us, which of course is true, but doesn’t help me. Doesn’t help me know what to do now. I should have done more. I should have spoken up more. I should have tried harder. I’m sorry.

America, I am sorry. To the world, I am sorry. To everyone who is afraid alongside me this morning, I am sorry that I did not do enough to stop this man. I am sorry that my voice was silenced by those who should have had to work harder to shut me up. I am sorry that I did not say, again and again and again and again and again, until my throat was horse from the shouting of it, that there was a candidate in this race who could keep us safe, who could keep us free, and whose imperfections so obviously paled in comparison to her opponents that to suggest otherwise was laughable.

America, I am sorry.

America, I threw up twice last night. I slept fitfully for about three hours. I have not stopped crying.

America, my white body is protected in a way that my friends’ bodies are not. I will shield your bodies of color as best as I can.
America, my love for a man is protected in a way that my gay friends’ love is not. I will treasure your love and fight to keep it safe in whatever way that I can.
America, our children are watching everything that we do. I do not know what that means yet. I do not know what that means. I will teach love as long as I live, even on days like today when I cannot believe in it with the same fervor.

America, I am so afraid of what is to come.

America, I wanted a nation of little girls to believe that they could be the president. I wanted that so fucking badly.

America, our president has said “Grab ’em by the pussy.” He said that you get away with it. He was right. America, our president has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and America, 59 million of you didn’t care.

Mark my words. In sixty years, those red Trump baseball caps will look to us like swastikas. They will look to us like armbands. Our grandchildren will look at the photos taken last night and wonder at how something like this could have happened. They will read books written about right now and wonder, if they were alive, if they would have done things differently. If they would have done more.

I can’t stop asking the same question.

America, I cannot stop shaking.
America, I cannot stop crying.
America, I do not know what to do next. Please help me.
America, I am so sorry.

 

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39 thoughts on “America, failure.

  1. In the words of Adrienne Rich: “Some of the suffering are: it is hard to tell the truth; this is America; I cannot touch you now. In America we have only the present tense. I am in danger. You are in danger. The burning of a book arouses no sensation in me. I know it hurts to burn. There are flames of napalm in Catonsville, Maryland. I know it hurts to burn. The typewriter is overheated, my mouth is burning. I cannot touch you and this is the oppressor’s language.”

  2. Yeah it’s shitty. But don’t stop! You are contributing to important conversations. More of us need to join you!

  3. Totally shocked waking up to the Election result here in the UK. I had an American friend actually return home to vote in order to keep Trump out, she felt that strongly. Can’t believe that people would prefer a bigoted, racist, sexiest, liar become the leader of the so called free world. The world will be watching with great interest and horror!

  4. Well done you! It’s not all on you. I just had a debate with a woman who thinks that Hillary wasn’t a suitable candidate because she is Pro-choice. I think the rest of the world think that Americans are quite far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of tolerance, human rights etc, but elections like this show how very deeply conservative (in the backward way) they really are.
    X

  5. Yesterday’s canvassing felt so good. People answered the door enthusiastically to say they’d voted for HER! They talked to us about the need to stop Trump. I came away thinking we could really do this thing. I really didn’t expect this and it is so strange how my body is physically reacting, not just with tears, but my whole body, shaking, and sick in my gut. My husband drove himself to the train today because he was worried I’d throw up at the wheel.

  6. Read this and take comfort: https://medium.com/@alishamslau/i-am-a-pragmatic-liberal-and-i-hope-that-clinton-loses-heres-why-59fed422a617#.xg94crpv4

    Even had Trump lost, his “fan base” would still be out there. THAT is the problem, not Trump. Trump is a symptom of a far greater disease.

    But Hillary was not the answer. A candidate for whom the party conspired to rig the primaries could never represent Democracy. Wikileaks has been pretty consistent in producing accurate information, regardless of how they have obtained that information.

    Let’s all hope that this election will lead to better things in the near future.

  7. Get over it. There have been ruthless Kings, Queens, Presidents… through history. We all have to work together and listen (not just talk, blog…). We used to meet people and have a face to face, that wasn’t as easy as posting… and walking away. That’s what we are missing, worst spoken in front of one another.

  8. Trying to channel the spirit of Molly Ivins this morning….remembering to keep up the good fight and have fun doing it. For my Christian friends, fight like hell for the kingdom of heaven on earth. Be thankful for many things, not least that you will not be running out of faithful, brave, challenging, creative work to do in your lifetime.

    Don’t despair. The louder the voices of hate grow, the sweeter the voices of hope will be. The darker the times, the more we need the light.

    Also trying to channel Bob Marley, adding a couple of words before the ones we know: “Throw up, clean up, get up, stand up for your rights!”

    • Amen, brother! Always look on the bright side, though it may be from the cross you’ve chosen to bear – for the human race.

  9. “Although she did not win, she did not fail, she simply lost the election. Like her or hate her, she fought for the presidency as an equal to Donald Trump. DO NOT put your cards on the table and fold. Do NOT give her that much power. You can achieve many things one day, when you are dedicated enough to run for president we will be waiting for you.”

    Katherine 2020.

    • This posting needs to be reposted in a few days to give us faith. Right now grieving is too heavy, too deep.

  10. I agree with everything you wrote. I also am just in shock today at how so many people could possibly vote for Trump despite all the reasons you listed! I am so disappointed for Hillary who would have made a great president.

  11. My heart breaks. All we can do now is support our friends who don’t have privilege, whose rights might be taken away, who are marginalized and abused and will become more so in the next 4 years, and fight the good fight. Continue to hope, continue to speak out, and work hard to make sure that 4 years don’t become 8. We cannot rest, we cannot let these people win. Our fight is now more important than ever.

  12. Katherine – You are a light in the world. You will always be. We will just have to fight for right, as we always have. I can hardly breathe. And yet, I am still mentally preparing for that fight.

  13. I am sorry as well. I did what I was supposed to do. I thought others would as well. We, as women, have just taken a giant step backwards, into the ice age, where the Caucasian male runs women into the ground. We as women, need to take a stand against the horrors that will be coming our way. Please ladies, please. Let’s get ourselves back on track and send this man back to the cave he crawled out of.

  14. The trumpets will sound “Trump”, he will fool many, many will come to love him. There will be great feasting before the famine. Take care all of us who used our vote wisely…a vote against Hilary was a vote for Trump; take care to remember who this man truly is…take care not to fall in behind him.

  15. I think that you are very brave for how you put yourself and your thinking out there for all to see. I’ve only been reading you for a little while and i am impressed by your thoughtfulness and honesty – as well, you are a darn good writer! I do not think you have failed. I don’t think any of us have failed. We live in a country with wonderful principles in our constitution and it has appalling errors written into it that since the beginning people have worked to address and change. It is better now. It is not good enough. But people of good faith who work hard never stop doing what they can to keep us going in the direction of more freedom and more justice. It’s appropriate to grieve. Things are messy and hurtful and have just gotten messier. When you’re ready – when any of us who are so saddened, frustrated, angry, disturbed are ready – get back in the fight. We all need to do what we can in our families first, then in our communities to make things better where we live. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” (Rev. King) The work is not done, and nothing important is easily achieved. There is pain on both sides. If we are willing to not be so polarized in our thinking, are willing to listen to those we disagree with without prejudgment and speak our truths without belittling others, we can build common ground. We may not see the results we want and believe in right away (or ever :-() but we never need to stop working for them. Keep up your good work! You are a blessing in our hurting world.

  16. Exactly how I’m feeling, every word. Are you in the Pantsuit Nation group on Facebook? It has been the biggest source of hope to me as I walk around feeling like my entire world is upside down. I don’t know what to do yet, but I’m damn sure going to do something.

  17. I love you Catherine. I love every piece of writing you make. You are my inspiration as a young artist and I hope someday I will be as good as you. I am mourning with you.

  18. It’s a tough day for sure. Like you I was excited about a female candidate and voted for Hillary proudly. Last night I too turned to my partner in bed and asked “are you as frightened as I am?” He was. But I kept watching, I listened to Trump’s acceptance speech. I was amazed at how calm and mature he sounded compared to his tone during the campaign. He even had glowing things to say about Hillary. My first thought was “he hired a good speech writer” but then it occurred to me, his tone has changed because the fight to the presidency is over. I am worried, but encouraged at the potential of a candidate that seems to have calmed down so quickly once the victor was declared. Let’s hope he continues to approach even-headedness and unity with time. It will be hard for all of us to believe without seeing it, and even then, harder to trust, but many corrupt leaders have taken to the white house before – slave owners, misogynists, racists, and America has survived. We must respect the process of a free election, and hope for the best from our nation even when the person we didn’t pick is the person that won.

  19. You did not fail. This election showed that there is a lot of anger and fear within America. It is forcing us to the breaking point where we, as an entire country, need to decide who and what we want to be. You help us all by continuing to be part of that conversation.

    Do not beat yourself up. Today, I am snuggling my cat and ate two doughnuts and a big bowl of serial. Tomorrow, I return to my GED classroom and teach math. We all can only do what we can – but the failure is to stop doing what we can.

  20. Dear, dear Katherine – you did NOT fail. What was lost yesterday was only the illusion that our world’s fight for an egalitarian society was done. It’s not.

    Weep. Rest. Then get back on your feet. We all need to keep going – we need a voice like yours to hold back the darkness.

  21. You, Dear Fritzy, have NOTHING to be sorry about. You are a Blessing, as many folks have said. You make a difference. MUCH LOVE and Respect. Hugs, baw

  22. Pingback: America, failure. — I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog – callmemare

  23. You wrote what you thought and felt. You did your part. Nothing to be sorry about. We need to work and come together, or we really will be a broken nation. I hope civility will prevail.

  24. I am not American nor a girl, but I seriously do know how you felt and how important this presidential election was for you. You have done everything you could possibly do, that’s fantastic, and you have got absolutely nothing to be sorry about.
    Many folks from world wide were shocked about this news too.

    Take good care of yourself. Tonnes of love and respect.

  25. I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself. The people who voted for Trump knew all the same things you did; they simply didn’t care. The reasons for Trump’s election and Hillary’s defeat are numerous and complicated and you did all you could. All I can say is it’s time to stay informed, rise up and take action. Just don’t give up. Hugs to you.

  26. I am trying hard to believe that there is more to most Trump voters than “didn’t know” or “knew, but didn’t care.” I have to believe it. It’s the only thing keeping me together at this point.

    “Didn’t know” is another way of saying “ignorant,” and “knew, but didn’t care” is another way of saying “racist/sexist/homophobic,” and painting Trump voters en masse with that brush is only going to further the divisions that led to Trump’s election.

    We can absolutely say Donald Trump himself is all those awful things—he has shown himself to be those things—but we cannot assume that every individual who cast a vote for him did so out of pure ignorance and/or hate.

    This article on why some women were willing to vote for Trump despite his proven misogyny was particularly illuminating for me: http://www.vox.com/conversations/2016/10/25/13384528/donald-trump-women-stephanie-coontz

    We have to try to understand why millions of people chose Trump. It can’t be exclusively hate, because I have to believe most people are mostly good, because if not, why even go on? And while we’re trying to understand, we have to help people who are struggling, who are likely to have it even worse when Trump takes office. I personally should have been doing more helping and caring all along. If anything good comes out of this election, I hope that it is more people like me—who purported to want the best for everyone but didn’t turn those thoughts into actions—come out of the woodwork to help their fellow Americans.

  27. I have been feeling the same way as you. I have been told by Trump supporters that I am a stupid little millennial and I need to sit down, shut up, get a job, and accept the fact that this is our reality…and by the way “nice tits, bitch.” Literally, someone screamed that at me last night while I was walking down the street.

    You’re right. We don’t know what is going to happen next. But what we can affect right now is our interpersonal relations. We can stand up for those who are being bullied and harassed. If we see someone getting beaten or cat called or being threatened in any way, we can do something in that moment to make it stop, and that will not be changing the minds of the oppressors. It will be by making whomever they are oppressing feel safe.

    A friend of mine told me that 2.1 million more people voted for Hillary than for Trump. They just happened to vote in blue states, so…here we are. But people care! MORE people care than what you would think, it’s just the terrible hateful people who are louder.

    Please do not put this on you. You are fierce. Keep fighting the good fight 🤘🏻

  28. I’m sorry, too. Sad, scared, and incredulous as well.

    The last few days, I felt as though women’s voices had no value in this new America so unlike the one I thought I knew. I felt ashamed. How can we, as white people, claim any authority on anything, when half the people who look like us just handed the most powerful job in the world to a crazy person?

    At best, he’s a charlatan who will betray the ones who put their hopes in him. What will those angry mobs do then? Those who are driven by fear, desperation, and hate…what will they do then? Who will bear the brunt of their frustration?

    I fear it will be women, people of color, immigrants, or anyone deemed “different.”

    We can only stay so long in our sadness and regret. The world needs whatever goodness we have to give it – now more than ever.

    I can think of no better reason to keep writing, to keep creating, to keep pushing forward. Our voices, our words, and our actions may be more powerful in this new landscape than we can imagine at present.

    What if the election of Trump mobilized enough of us to create our own revolution? What if this election ushered in an era of great strides and new opportunities for women and girls?

    What if we seized this moment and took our future into our own hands? What if we said, “To hell with that moron. He’s not going to silence us. We will not allow him to.” ?

    How powerful will our voices be? What can achieve together, despite the obstacles in our way?

    I don’t know about you, but I want to find out.

  29. Thank you for writing this piece, and for being who you are. The election outcome was not at all your fault. Please keep writing. Don’t stop — you have so much to offer. I wrote a piece back in August to warn people that Trump appears to be an undiagnosed sociopath. Since then, I’ve seen nothing more than additional evidence. I woke up shell-shocked the day after the election, saddened, angered, confused, and disappointed. I never thought Trump would win, for all the same reasons you mentioned, plus because he is mentally unfit. Now it is more important than ever for us with a media soapbox to continue to speak out. B. Ashley

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