On Monday night, I stood in the middle of a sea of thousands of people and listened to my President, Barack Obama speak about hope. It wasn’t ironic at the time but looking back now, it sure feels that way. I rallied in one of the most impactful cities in front of Independence Hall as some of the most progressive leaders this country has seen, spoke about the movements that we needed to protect. I was enthused to go out and participate in my first real election as a millennial. I was captivated while listening to Michelle Obama remind me to always “Go high when they go low.” My adrenaline grew as two presidents and a presidential candidate reminded me about why fighting was so important. I was inspired and I was hopeful.
I’ve spent the last 10 months of my life campaigning hard for the Democratic Party. My internships have taught me what being a fighter is really about. I knocked on doors, answered phones, made desperate pleas to strangers for donations and contributions, canvased, photographed, wrote, rallied and persevered. I used every skill set that I had and valued to make sure that my voice would play a role in who my next leaders would be. But it wasn’t enough and I never imagined the amount of myself that would become invested in such a public and cutthroat event.
Politics are hard and campaigns are brutal. I have never been around a job that literally required blood, sweat and tears. What makes political campaigns so unique is that everything is personal. But they have to be or else we wouldn’t work so hard. I took all the hits throughout my time at the campaign offices. I delt with early mornings, late nights, screaming oppositions and strenuous communication. I did all of this, not because I always wanted to but because I felt like I owed it to my country to protect the rights of people and defend the values necessary for a better tomorrow. Unfortunately, Wednesday morning came followed by the stunning realization that half of my country did not hold those same values. And that was personal.
In Campaigns, you are always preparing for the worst. Any outcome can be flipped in a minute and you have to be prepared to handle the given situation. But my switch never got turned on. When I cast my ballot on Tuesday morning, I genuinely thought I knew what the future held. I was ill prepared and vulnerable to what actually awaited me Wednesday morning.
I was surprised by how this genuinely affected my mental stability, positivity, and hope. I feared everything that I loved and respected was now in jeopardy. I felt confused and angry as a millennial women and journalist. I became engulfed in the pain of everyone that felt as though they had just lost something historic and important.
I wish I could depict to you the amount of tears I shed yesterday. I woke up for work at 4:35am, turned on CNN and angry cried as I laced up my boots. I went to work attempting to force a facade. I chocked back tears multiple times as I poured coffee for customers that looked defeated by this day. I made it all the way to the subway station when this song started to play.
I sat in the corner of the subway train and I cried for the entire ride home. I cried for myself, my city and my country. And for the first time, the subway felt quiet. And people looked at me and they knew why I was crying and I knew why they were quiet. And I felt myself break into a million pieces on that walk home. I realized that America had just broken my heart in a way that no boy ever could. I was scared and I was definitely not hopeful.
The main reason as to why I wanted to write this blog was because I wanted to address a very specific aspect of my pain. Yes, I fought hard in this election. I didn’t just cast a vote, I worked my ass off. I value Hillary Clintons qualifications and intentions. I realize that she is a flawed candidate but I genuinely thought she was the better candidate for the job. But that is not why I fought so hard. It is important that people understand this.
I used all the blood, sweat and tears I had to protect the legacy of two leaders that have changed, shaped and improved my life. I didn’t fight this fight for a “Madame President,” I fought this fight for Barack & Michelle Obama.
In 2008, I was 12 years old. I didn’t know much about anything but I understood what hope meant and knew it was something I wanted in a leader. In November of 2008, I stood in line for the polls with my father and I cast his vote for Barack Obama. Now that didn’t mean much to me then but fast forward 8 years later and look at how invested I am now. My parents allowed me to play a small but meaningful role in electing our first african american president and that is a privilege that I don’t take lightly.
Through the next 8 years, I grew up with two incredible leaders who taught me about standing up for what’s right, protecting those who can’t protect themselves and working hard for better outcomes. All while still remaining the positive and impactful people that we see today.
The legacy of Barack Obama is something that is very personal to me and it hits the core of the 12 year old within me. This election has compromised that legacy and that hurts me. This vote was a slap in the face for the most influential leaders of my young life and that offends me. And I now fear that change isn’t something that we actually want but rather something we fear. Because I have felt the change that this administration has left on me and our country and I think this election is an attempt to erase all of that.
I will surpass the anger but never the disappointment knowing that Donald Trump now believes he is on a comparative level with Barack Obama. Trump may turn out to be a great leader but he has shown that he does not possess the ability to be as eloquent and genuine of a leader.
I feel the pain of this administration, my party and my loved ones. I can except the outcome but I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m unsure where one goes from here. How hard can I fight and how hard am I willing to fight to come back from such a groundbreaking defeat is my question.
All I know is that I will always be invested to protect what I know is true and right. Our presidency might change but the movements for better social & political reform are alive and well. I don’t need a great leader to ensure that I will be great. I have already had 8 years of greatness instilled in me and I don’t fear lighting my own path for awhile. So as of now, I’ve continued to attempt to ingrain Obama’s recent speech into my brain and begin the process that is necessary to patch up these bruises.