It’s November 9th, 2016. I sit on my laptop.
244. 257. 276. 288.
I cannot believe what is happening. I cannot understand why I will have to support a mad man. This is the first thing they don’t really tell you about adulthood – this stoop of submission, this birthright of sheep. I’m here, thinking, I never agreed to this!
Growing up overseas, I’ve always had a strained relationship with “the motherland.” I only really experienced “America” through five outlets: the Americans I met in Kenya, their respective work, what my parents had to say about the USA, brief stays in either Kansas or Mississippi, and almost everything I saw on the media.
In my early teenage years, my mind turned ungracefully outward to mimic the political trappings I saw around me. Like a first crush, I doggedly professed a cloying and barely understood love for my parents’ country. Soon, however, you could say that my early and awkward patriotic streak was brandished and sterilized due to the pressures of attending a British school. Under heightened awareness, aided by the bullying of my anti-American peers, Disney quickly evolved into the crimes of the War on Terror. In a dark state of mind, I attempted to stamp out all ties I had with the USA, embracing ignorance in regards to the going-ons of my passport country.
A few years later, with brief flashes of conscious Americanism, the 2016 elections race began. Seventeen and struggling with the progression of my life in Kenya, I was reignited by this idealistic and revolutionary campaign trail. I was particularly enamored with the miles put down by the modern American explorer, Bernie Sanders. Muddled up by college applications and the imminent plans of leaving my birth home, I realized that America will have to be a huge part of my personal journey. Pushed on by academic emphasis on political, economic, and humanitarian issues, the American Dream swaggered into my life not as childish puppy-love, but as a dashing romantic promising global empowerment and new age policies. I too, with all my cultural convolutions, had a place to belong in this larger-than-life possibility. My idea of being American was redefined.
Yet there’s not exactly a happy ending to my love affair with the USA. A week before my eighteenth birthday, when Bernie left the race, the American Dream turned from enticing lover to Hollywood melodrama, another product of plastic sensuality. And then, things just fell apart.
Donald Trump proved his blatant sexism in the same year that Brock Turner was released after only three months for raping an unconscious woman. As a girl about to attend university in the USA, what am I supposed to think if my future president smirks about an atmosphere of humiliating “locker room talk?” In a country where women have a one in five chance of being sexually assaulted on a college campus, how can we choose a figurehead who painfully alludes to grabbing us as if we are inflatable?
In a time of racial injustice, how can it be our decision to elect someone who divides Americans like a predator singling off individuals from the herd? As minorities continually face the frontline of a broken system, how can we elect a leader who failed to reject the support of a Grand Wizard of the KKK? If someone was drowning, how could we not only look away, but stampede in the opposite direction?
As we wreak irreversible damage onto the Earth, how can we choose a world leader who doesn’t believe in climate change? As countries around the globe face the starvation and disaster of our decisions, how can we, over and over again, choose the paradigm of money, of luxury, of materialism? We could empower the world; instead, we choose to close our eyes, count to three, and only hope that we fall off the cliff last.
There are countless of things that feel wrong about Donald Trump and the opinions he represents. Out of the tangle of narcissism, ignorance, and hypocrisy of this election, one thing is now horribly clear: We are selfish.
Before I say anything else, let me state that I am immensely grateful for the security the USA provides me. I am thankful for my passport and the opportunities it gives me. I am humbled by the prospect that American armed forces would most likely rescue me if I ever found myself in danger. Yet, though I undoubtedly have privileges, I’m angry because of the ignorance, divisiveness, and selfishness it took to choose Trump.
The USA finally had a chance to redefine itself. As the opportunists we claim to be, we had a possibility to reimagine our legacy. We had the choice of a woman of Washington, who is, granted, a part of the current system, or a wolf in golden sheep’s skin. The answer seemed so obvious; Clinton detailed policies for the future, while Trump canonized agendas of the past.
At least we were free to choose, and that became the hope in the situation. Or so I thought, until my American Dream was shot out of the sky.
I could not vote.
For those of us born abroad, some states have restrictive laws in regards to who exactly can vote. Unfortunately, I would have had to cast my ballot in the name of one of those states. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, and without proof of residence, the state of Mississippi chooses to leave you on the sidelines. In my case, the elections drained a year of political passion out of my veins, labeled it, and carted it down the hall to the middle of nowhere.
I guess I’m already just too much of an outsider, never mind the fact that every decision the USA collectively makes will affect the planet in one way or another. Buying another car, starting a new business, sharing something on social media – I wonder how the 7 billion people of Earth would have voted on Tuesday?
Now, it’s November 9th. Donald Trump will be president of the United States of America. We are sheep, given the freedom of greener pastures. I am a sheep, given the birthright to follow, and follow, and follow.
May we dream until we leap off the cliff.