The election of one Donald J. Trump to the Presidency of these United States was a tragedy. Like an actual tragedy. One where people are seeing real bodily harm as a result to two years of his campaign saying “Bring in the Clowns!” (Wherein, Donald J. Trump—and to a lesser extent Kellyanne Conaway—invited the worst of people’s ids into the mainstream light, letting them wreak havoc on Obama’s idyllic America). But the election has also been a “tragedy,” in the lesser sense of the word. Sure you may not have seen any statistically significant changes to your life, but IT SURE DOESN’T FEEL GOOD. And to help you cope, I present to the the Five Stages of Grief in Trump’s America. Allow the Kubler-Ross model to give a framework to your discomfort.
The night was November 8th. The time roughly 7:30pm. You were watching CNN, MSNBC, Twitter like a three-headed Hydra. You rocked your “The Future is Female” t-shirt regardless of your gender. Pounding back your Manhattans and Cosmos—yeah we are the liberal elite, bitches! you screamed with your friends—life was but a dream.But something odd happened. That look on John King’s face. “Wolf, Trump is starting to pull away in Ohio,” he said. “Ok,” you reasoned silently, twisting together the end of a maraschino cherry, “Ohio isn’t that blue of a state.” But then John said it again. For Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and others. All these states were too close to call? But you had another Hillary celebration event you had to get to in two hours. You couldn’t be sitting around still watching CNN by 10?
But as the inevitable gave way. As Donald slowly took the Electoral College from Hillary’s small—though not smaller than his own— hands, your body entered into the first stage of grief.
“They miscounted the votes!”
“The voting machines broke down!”
“Nate Silver can’t be wrong!”
Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, having not done anything noteworthy until now, aside from costing Hillary the election, suddenly became the poster child for your denial. “We’ll recount the votes,” she said triumphantly. Suddenly she raised more cash than she ever had during her actual campaign. “All of the states!” she cried. “To the ends of the Earth!” It didn’t matter when people told her, and you, that the amount of votes needed to actually tip the Electoral College’s balance would be next to impossible to find. That’s not how this stage works after all.
Your subconscious denied it too. Each morning you woke up unable to say the words “President-Elect Trump,” like we were inside some Baz Luhrman film, and a chorus line of Trump’s Make America Great Again hats was literally dancing on top of our Cemetery of Dreams. It just didn’t feel right. Nothing this crazy could exist in the universe.
Slowly however you couldn’t deny the reality. More people actually voted for Trump (oh wait they didn’t) and he was on track to become president of the United States of America.
For their part, millennials got to this stage rather quick. (I personally got the month pass to Denial World, riding even the most pathetic of the rides at least a dozen times). The day following the election they took to the streets, making clever signs and disrupting traffic in the name of democracy.
But some of us showed it in our own way. “I can’t talk right now!” you said to your coworker, as she gently retreated and went on the daily Starbucks break alone. For a few weeks your Facebook posts drifted into the “too political” tone for your circle. Your tweets made veiled threats that, in under other circumstances, would have caught the attention of the FBI.
You needed to let off steam. And for good reason. You would soon be using all the energy for the stage coming up next.
Now was your chance to show the world who really was smartest. “Electoral College? Electoral Schmollage!” Maybe the Constitution had deemed Donald Trump the winner, but that wasn’t going to stop you from writing e-mails to your representatives. “I know you are bound by the popular vote of the state to vote for Trump,” you crafted under the weight of tears, “but you need to stand up for what’s right and stop the unbearable!” Only a handful of electors would need to change their vote, according to some analyses, then we could send the issue to the House of Representatives! Maybe we could convince enough Republicans to change their minds there too!
“I’ll read more Breitbart. I’ll understand the error of my ways. I’ll take a layover in fly-over America! Just please don’t vote for Donald J Trump!”
Democracy had become the Ghost of Christmas Future, and you the Scrooge watching beggars auction off your civil rights.
(I’m really visualizing the Muppets version for this one).
Maybe if you donated money to the cause, maybe if you became politically active for the first time, maybe if you launched an early impeachment campaign, (hell, maybe if you asked the voting center to accept the vote you never cast), then just maybe, just maybe, we could all overturn this tragedy and usher in the 2017 we all really wanted...
...but you know that’s not to be.
As the clock ticks down, as the electors convene to perform the single act they had been selected to perform, namely, carry out the will of the majority in their state, you know that enough Info Wars fanatics voted for Donald Trump eating taco salads in the oval office for the next four years.
So you don’t talk to your family over Christmas dinner when they ask “how are you doing?” You go to WebMD and see if your condition is clinically recognized. (It is). You look over the past year and see only the bad that happened, forgetting the moments of joy we all shared. Kimmy Schmidt Season Two. Zootopia. Watching Simone Biles take over the world. (Yes, that was really 2016) All that fades away like some other dimension. And all you can think about is your next prescription refill of Zoloft and why Samantha Bee only has one show a week.
But in time we’ll get past it. We’ll rock in 2017 with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. We’ll watch Donald Trump struggle through his presidency as other historical fuck ups like George W. Bush and Andrew Jackson. We’ll see people start to pay more attention. We’ll put an end to fake news sites. And come 2018 when we can vote in a new Democratic house and 2020 when our hindsight can deliver a new president, we’ll move on from these dark times like a painful act two, knowing the finale ends with us telling the Donald...
by Kevin Zimmerman