Last night, I cried myself to sleep.
I cried until my eyes were swollen and my tongue was dry. I wailed and punched my pillow until I closed my eyes and hoped that this was a nightmare that I would soon wake up from. I hoped that I would never wake up.
It was the third time I cried that evening. I had already prepared myself for the disappointing results of the local Puerto Rican elections, in which conservative leaders took back control of an already right-leaning government. I turned the channel to CNN, hoping to finally see a woman–my candidate, my champion, Secretary Hillary Clinton–become the 45th President of the United States.
Then Trump won Kentucky. “All right,” I told myself, “this was to be expected.” Then he won West Virginia. Then he was leading in Ohio. He had 27 electoral votes to Clinton’s three. I began to panic, and let a few fearful tears flow. Suddenly, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were neck-and-neck in one of the most devastating political events I’ve ever seen unfold on live television. I stayed up until after Hillary won the west coast states, but decided to pack it up and go to sleep when Trump reached 244 electoral votes. The New York Times declared he had a 95% chance of winning. I went to my room with the intention of going to sleep; I called my boyfriend–who took the lead on many Americans and moved to Canada on an exchange program in September–and cried until I fell asleep, terrified of the country I would be waking up to.
Hillary Clinton’s loss is deeply personal to me, and for plenty of women like me. As a woman, I’m disappointed we were tragically close to having a female president; and as a person, I’m disgusted by whom that almost-president lost to. Like most young girls, I’ve dreamt of seeing a female president in my lifetime, and I wanted Hillary Clinton to be that person. I truly believe in her message that we are stronger together and that she would be a fitting heir to President Obama’s legacy, one which has fought for victims of domestic and sexual violence, for queer women, trans women, women of color, and women with disabilities. Today, I’m disgusted the electoral colleges chose Trump as President, and a Vice President who believes electroshock therapy can “cure” homosexuality and that conversion therapy works, that women should be punished for miscarriages, and who believes both Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood must be shot down.
As a Puerto Rican, I’m disgusted to bear the burden of a citizenship that is now under the jurisdiction of a racist, xenophobic monster. I am disgusted by our colonial status in which decisions are made for us. I share the humiliating pain that the citizens of the US’s fifteen other island territories must feel. If Puerto Ricans had a right to vote in the general election, or if we were a state, we could have cast around one million votes for this election, eight electoral votes, and be entitled to six House seats. If we were independent, we wouldn’t have to worry about being under the jurisdiction of a xenophobe in the first place. I feel betrayed by a country that voted against people like me.
As a Latina, I’m terrified of Donald Trump’s policies and thoughts towards the Hispanic community and the white supremacy he has awakened. Throughout my undergradute career, I’ve planned to move to the United States to pursue graduate studies in journalism. Now, that all seems uncertain. Simply put, the United States is now hostile territory for hispanic women, and it is much more hostile for women who aren’t white-passing like myself. To top it off, the idea of being a journalist in the era of Trump, whose supporters call for lynching journalists and whose administration would put a gag on press freedom, shakes me to my core. All that I’ve been working towards for the past 22 years is gone: my dreams of being a political and investigative reporter, my dreams of a female president, vanished. I feel lost, hopeless and afraid.
Hillary Clinton was not a perfect candidate. She ran a weak campaign that focused too much on Donald Trump’s sexist and racists quips, all of which cemented his supporters’ devotion. She ran a campaign that didn’t do enough to attract voters who weren’t already convinced to vote for her, and didn’t do enough to own up to her introverted, calculated image. Both of these points made her an unattractive candidate for people who were infatuated with Bernie Sanders and his progressive ideas, and made her seem disingenuous when she–rightfully–adopted them into her campaign. Top it all off with an email scandal whose flames were ignited by the far-right and fanned into the left, and you have an enormous problem.
But Hillary Clinton ran against Donald Trump, a man who’s made a living out of scamming people and stealing their money; a man who boasted about grabbing women “by the pussy,” made fun of the disabled, calls for banning muslims from entering the US, and calls for deporting all Mexican immigrants. I’m not Mexican, and I have American citizenship by birth, but Spanish is my first language. I’m white-passing, but as soon as I open my mouth, I’m a spic. I know that when he refers to Mexicans, he is also talking about me. Meanwhile, Hillary served as an exemplary public servant for foster children, children with disabilities and, yes, women. She proposed universal health care reform as First Lady of the United States but was shot down. She served a term for Senator of New York and functioned as Secretary of State. She counts with the loyalty of average citizens, congressmen and women, as well as federal officials. Simply put, she knew what it would take to get the job done and continue Obama’s legacy. However, decades of experience and a majority of the popular vote was not enough to make her President. We failed her and we failed this country.
My anger and devastation will hopefully pass in due time, but for the time being I am allowing myself space to mourn, discuss, reflect, and unite in camaraderie with fellow disgusted citizens–women and latinos alike. My heart goes out to the weeping WOC at Clinton’s rally last night, and the little girl who went to sleep last night with her Hillary Clinton action figure, unaware that she would wake up to a country much worse than the one that existed when she closed her eyes.
The image of the five-year-old girl was shared extensively on Twitter and other social media.
In her concession speech, Secretary Clinton addressed “little girls” everywhere when she told them to “never doubt that [they] are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” I’m no longer a little girl, but her message reached out to me. Hillary Clinton is not the 45 President, and likely won’t be the 46th or 47th, but she is still my champion. I cry once again as I type this and think about the little girl I’ll hopefully have someday, and how I’ll fight for her to have a champion of her own.
A champion she deserves.