I went to bed last night with a headache from grinding my teeth and keeping the tears at bay. I’d already cried a little when my state’s election results were posted earlier in the evening. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. My state has almost always gone to the Republican party. Still, I had hoped my voice was heard a little. (It had been heard in local elections, but again, that wasn’t a surprise. The city I live in is a tiny blue dot amidst a sea of red.)

This morning, I woke up with a stomachache and more news that the Republican nominee for president won. I have been since trying to keep more tears at bay. This blog being my safe space on the Internet, I felt it was the best place for me to purge some of my fear and doubt.

Mostly, I want to make something clear.

There are people close to me who wanted change, and they believe the person who will be our next president will give it to them. I grew up in a small, blue collar, predominantly white, conservative town in the middle of a mostly blue collar, conservative state. I understand where my close family members and friends are coming from. Life has been tough for them recently. The economy has failed them. They are done with career politicians and the Washington elite and the status quo. They want change. Again, I understand where they’re coming from. So, why am I so disheartened this morning?

Because the candidate they believe will bring that change ran on a campaign full of hateful rhetoric and bigoted speech. A candidate who demeaned women to their faces, who promoted sexual assault with his very words, who disrespected People of Color and Muslims and Jews and members of the LBGT+ community and people with disabilities. He brought out the worst in our country. And (dare I say it?) the worst in some of my loved ones.

Maybe they don’t feel the same way as their soon-to-be president. Or maybe they don’t believe everything he said during his long campaign run. Maybe they only voted for him because they thought he was being funny or that it was all just talk. That he couldn’t be serious. They’re only words, after all. When he becomes president he won’t do any of that, but he will Make America Great Again. Maybe that’s what they believe.

But those words of his, they’re words that hurt. They are words that cause pain. They are words that hold promise, just has much as the promises he made to bring more jobs to the country and make the middle class stronger.

I woke up this morning frightened for my friends of color and in the LGBT+ community. And (dare I say it? Me, a white, cis, upper middle class woman?) I am frightened for myself and my family. I am frightened that he has normalized bullying and sexual assault. He has normalized hate speech. He has normalized hatred for diversity.

My husband is an OB/Gyn. It wasn’t so long ago that physicians in his field were being shot and bombed because they were just trying to give their patients the care they wanted or needed. Not so long ago, one of my husband’s former coworkers would wear a bulletproof vest into the clinic where he worked sometimes. Things have changed a little since then, but not by much in the state we live in. With this new normalization of bullying and hatred, there may come a point in time when my husband and his coworkers must choose to wear a bulletproof vest when going to work. When they must kowtow to laws that strip women of their reproductive rights. When they must make the choice between giving up their Hippocratic Oath to do no harm or putting their patients’ lives and health above their own.

You may think I’m joking. I can’t possibly be serious, you say. That can’t possibly happen in 2016. But it did happen in the not so distant past. And in the more recent past, when certain laws were being bandied about the state capitol building, it almost happened again, which means it may very well happen in the near future given our current climate.

So, to my friends and family who are hoping for change: I hope you’re right. I’m going to try to give your president a chance. I love you, and I hope real change comes of this election for you. Real, positive change.

I just hope it doesn’t come to the detriment and expense of the rest of us.

Thanks for reading, and remember: Have courage, and be kind.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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