As a conservative Mormon woman who is staunchly Republican, 2016 was a sad year. That’s right America, Donald Trump will be your president come January 20th. Almost no one saw that one coming and many people – Republican, Democrat, or otherwise– aren't happy about it. I was so unhappy, in fact, that I went through all five stages of the grieving process just to get through this election year. But that’s 2016 for you, folks.
I was fully prepared to face one of two ultimate possibilities in this election: either the person I wanted would win or the person I didn’t want would win. I never thought that I wouldn’t want either candidate, and that I would have to make a decision, not based on how I thought my vote would help the country, but on how I thought it would do the least amount of damage. When we headed into the primaries I thought Donald Trump was only running for president as a joke or because he was a megalomaniac who had everything in the world except for this one position. Poor man, I thought, he’ll be so disappointed when he doesn’t even get any votes at all. But when he started winning primaries in different states I started to go into the first stage of grief: denial. I just kept thinking, This can’t be happening. Please tell me it’s all a dream, a prank, or even the apocalypse. Whatever it is, it’s definitely not actually happening though – right? But it was.
Then there was anger that he was actually beating out all the more qualified candidates. Who were these people who were voting for him, and why wouldn’t they just stop? He’s a narcissist! He’s not even conservative! Don’t vote for him! But they did.
Then began the bargaining. Maybe we can still put a stop to this nonsense. Maybe if one guy drops out then another guy will be able to beat Trump. Maybe if I use the #NeverTrump hashtag he will cease to exist. Maybe if I go to church and pray a lot our country won’t implode. Maybe we can still fix this. But we couldn’t.
During the months leading up to the election – and especially on election day itself – I was just plain depressed. I’d given up discussing politics with my friends and family. I’d stopped listening to my favorite political podcast. I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never have to vote at all. It’s lonely and depressing when very few of your friends agree with you on something as fundamental to your value system as the way you cast your vote. My social media walls were like the aftermath of a bloody battlefield, littered with false reports, hateful rhetoric, and threats to unfriend everyone.
About half of my friends are very liberal, which doesn’t bother me much because we usually avoid political topics and just agree to disagree. But this past year I found myself in heated debates with fellow conservatives over everything from the electoral college, to the two-party system, to whether or not it’s moral to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” Some of my conservative friends thought Trump to be just the kind of brazen wild-card the country was in need of (which I didn’t agree with), others hated him and so voted for a third party candidate (I didn’t agree with that either), and still others decided not to vote at all (also no). It seemed that very few people felt the way that I did and hated Donald Trump but saw Hillary Clinton and/or the Democrats as a bigger problem, and so voted for Trump anyway. Obviously people did because almost half of Americans voted for him for one reason or another. Maybe they were just afraid to admit it. I don’t blame them.
It wasn’t easy to go against how I felt inside to do what I thought was right. I could have felt much more comfortable by not voting for the most audacious, offensive person I’ve ever heard speak at a podium. Ultimately though, I decided to do what I thought would damage the country the least. I headed to the polls with a Xanax in my pocket in case of a panic attack, ice cream in my freezer to reward myself for putting on my big girl panties and facing reality, and I voted for Donald Trump.
It took awhile, but I think I’ve finally reached the stage of grief known as acceptance. I’m numb and tired, but I can at least comprehend what has happened. 2016 gave me a lot of grief and I pray that Donald Trump doesn’t do anything next year to give me any more. 2017 had better be a relaxed and uneventful year for America. After what we’ve been through, we definitely deserve it.
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