Yesterday, I awoke with fear clutching my heart, tears welling in my eyes. As I pushed myself to get out of bed, tears began to stream down my cheeks and sobs caught in my throat. It felt as though I was waking into a nightmare. Yet, as the sun began to rise and the brisk air hit my face, I knew that this was no dream, this is real. Donald Trump won the presidency.
I spent the rest of the day alternating between dissociative numbness and episodes of sobbing and panic attacks. Part of me couldn’t accept that this is real while the rest of me knew that the nightmare had become reality. What I had dreaded and fought against had come to pass.
While there are too many reasons to list as to why a Trump presidency is bad for this country, my fears and dismay centered around a key aspect of my identity- my status as a disabled person. Trump has already vowed to destroy Obamacare and with it mine and my husband’s access to (somewhat) affordable healthcare.
Prior to Obamacare, people could be turned down for insurance due to a pre-existing condition (like my endometriosis and my husband’s MS). In other words, insurance companies were legally allowed to discriminate against those who most needed their help, those whose lives depend on access to healthcare. Disabled people already face disproportionate levels of poverty, which is made worse by policies surrounding disability payments which prevent disabled people from having savings or finding their way out of poverty. For the many disabled people who live in poverty or struggle to make ends meet, affordable health insurance can mean the difference between a manageable condition and a life of pain and misery or even death.
The US disability community has watched as policy changes in the UK have led to thousands of deaths of the disabled. We have seen the fear and pain and misery that has ensued from their governmental changes. We have watched in horror hoping that we would not find ourselves in the same situation, hoping that love and hope would win over hatred and fear. Yet, today we find ourselves in a country that has voted an ableist, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, hateful man into the most powerful office in the land. A man who, fresh out of winning the election, laid out his plans to dismantle Obamacare (as well as increase policing, build a wall along the Mexico border, and much more).
In my online communities, I have seen great deal of fear from the disabled. Many are so fearful and hopeless that they have considered ending their own lives. Many crisis hotlines saw an increase in call/text volume following the election, some as much as doubling compared to average. Aside from disabled people, many others with marginalized identities are afraid right now. LGBTQIA+ communities, people of color, immigrants, those of non-Christian religions, and many more are full of fear following the results, particularly those whose identities are multiply marginalized.
Fear is what led to Trump’s election. People’s (mainly white people’s) fears of outsiders, fears of those different from themselves, fears of a changing world, fears of financial situations, and more led people to stand behind a bigot and elect him president.
It is ok that we are fearful right now. It is understandable to be afraid in the face of unknowable horror. I can’t offer assurances that things will be ok or that we will come out of this unscathed. In all likelihood, there will be damage and destruction in our futures. However, we cannot let fear control us. We cannot let fear dictate our actions as it did for those who voted the wilted orange into office.
Let us feel our fear now. Let us feel our pain and horror and lick our wounds. But then we need to rise up. We must come together to support each other. We must work together to resist the man we will not accept as president. We must fight for hope and change in the face of evil.
It’s ok to be afraid right now, but when he takes office, we must join together to fight and support each other.