It could NEVER happen: a cautionary tale by Metrice Harris-Weedman

US elections a cautionary taleNever in a million years did I think I would wake up to a victorious Trump on the 9th of November. I stayed up as long as my droopy eyes would allow, and when I turned out the light, I felt not only confident Hillary would prevail but somewhat smug about the polls listing her with an over 70% chance of being the next American president. I even contacted a cousin and close friends to make sure my daughter got some of the campaign loot to mark this important moment in women’s history. Despite my supposed over confidence, something kept waking me at regular intervals throughout the night. Each time, I would blindly reach out for my device and quickly look up the election progress. Each time, I would see Trump’s numbers increase, and Hillary’s big lead gradually erode. Bleary eyed, by the time the morning alarm woke my husband, I was in a state of shock. With two States left to count, Trump was the almost guaranteed the presidency. By mid-morning, the election was called and, dare I say it, Trump became the President-elect.


The impossible happened! All throughout the campaign, I was asked about the election and if I thought Trump could win. Each time I would laugh, sometimes smirk and then calmly explain how the political system was made to prevent such a thing from happen. Besides, this wasn’t a REAL contest. Secretly, I thought the Clintons hatched some conspiracy with Trump to take down the Republican party. Somehow, that seemed more likely to me than Trump actually winning the election.


Three close family members died this year, and I can honestly say, I received the news of Trumps win in the same way I dealt with the news of their deaths. Disbelief, shock, numbness, lethargy, anger, all emotions associated with grief. I’m currently in the bargaining stage as I’m hoping the electoral college will use its magical powers to provide the checks and balance for which it was designed. The American founding fathers made provisions to protect the process from the masses. After all, sometimes what is popular isn’t necessary in the best interest of the common good.


A week and a half later, the shock has barely worn off. Today I was greeted at my daughter’s school with a sarcastic congratulatory handshake by the principal. He shook his head and told me he didn’t know what the Americans were thinking. What could I say but agree? However, is a Left leaning France all that immune?


Trust me when I tell you, France has some soul-searching to do. I’ve seen and experienced the changes as a visual minority who is often confused with being a "dreaded immigrant". I’ve been harassed on the TGV and followed in stores. While signing with my husband for the joint purchase of our home, I also sat in a room where I was completely ignored. Our new neighbors, while being friendly and inviting, have already prepared us for a less than warm reception from some who may not be as open to people of color. There is a reason the FN has advanced in some of our coastal towns and we would do well to look around us and ask some of the hard questions we may not be too comfortable with answering.


The ONLY good thing I can see from the most recent events is that it is an opportunity. An opportunity to really confront old wounds. An opportunity for some countries to redefine their core values and recalibrate their identities. It’s an opportunity for us all to examine what it really means to be a part of a global whole. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to fight for the things that truly matter to us and connects us to each other.