Yesterday I lost a friend.
Tuesday night - Election Night - was pretty terrible. It was shocking, and it was sad. For those who didn't vote for Donald Trump, that is. Obviously, for Trump supporters his upset victory was a triumph and a vindication. I'm not a Trump supporter in any way, shape, or form, so for me it was a long, stressful night.
I, like many people in America and around the world, pretty much took the result of the 2016 Presidential election for granted going into Tuesday evening. In my mind, there were two kinds of voters: Those who would select the qualified, experienced candidate who could continue to build upon the economic and social policies of the last eight years, and those who would do anything to avoid voting for that candidate, including casting a Hail Mary vote for an individual with no public service experience and a long record of outrageous and offensive behavior.
I believed a significant number of disaffected Americans who publicly championed Trump's over-the-top antics would ultimately choose Clinton in the peace and privacy of the voting booth. As a Clinton voter, that seemed to me to be the only logical, sane choice.
I found Donald Trump's rhetoric so inflammatory, his proposals so vague yet threatening, his fundamental ability to govern so lacking, that I felt confident not just in my vote for Clinton, but that a majority of Americans agreed with me and would cast their votes accordingly. As we all know now, I (and everybody else who felt that way) was wrong.
The Clinton camp had enormous faith in and devotion to her, matched only by their confidence that the final tally of votes would reflect the righteousness of their cause. They projected that confidence onto the crucial voting blocs that had to turn out for them and reflected back the numbers they wanted and needed to see. Those numbers assured Hillary Clinton of victory.
The problem is, the projections turned out to be willfully, woefully distorted. The blocs didn't turn out, the swing states didn't swing to the left, and Donald Trump got the votes he needed to secure the Presidency.
I know: He didn't get more votes. We all know that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a pretty impressive margin. But he got the votes he needed, in the places he needed, to carry the electoral college. Maybe it's the wrong way to choose a President - that's certainly not something I want to get into here - but since 1787, it's the level playing field on which every election has unfolded. The race isn't decided by the number of votes but by the number of electors, and that applies even if the sure-bet candidate doesn't pull it off.
But by the wee hours of Election Night, I wasn't thinking about any of this. I was stunned, I was mad, I was frankly terrified. I was also very, very drunk. And so I dashed off a series of posts on both my blog and IRL social media accounts. They were mostly incomprehensible, angry rants. They actually looked a lot like Trump's Twitter posts before his staff finally shut him down just before the election. SAD!
But on my IRL Facebook wall, I wrote what a lot of people wrote on their own walls that night and into the next day: basically, "If you voted for fucking Trump, unfriend me now."
Real mature on my part. Raw, naked emotion rarely lends itself to intelligent expression of ideas. Especially on Facebook. Especially when alcohol is involved.
Guys, I don't even remember typing the words. I was too far gone by that point. Not proud of it, but there it is. I didn't realize I had posted such a stupid thing until yesterday, when one of my Facebook friends - one of my favorite people - commented, "Done." And unfriended me.
And with that, my anger - at Trump, his supporters, and the entire election - evaporated. I can't really explain it, except to say that perspective hauled off and punched me in the face.
How much anger I had inside me. How long I had been carrying it around. How unhappy it was making me.
Over an election.
An election unlike any other, yes. An election with high stakes and potentially deep consequences for America and the world. One that for months had dredged up dark, ugly feelings and unleashed them in messy, angry public conversations unchecked by any sense of civility or mutual respect.
For all that my frustration about this election felt justified and necessary, I lost a friend over it.
A smart, funny, talented, good-natured man whose posts made me happy on a regular basis. I knew he and I had differing political views because of things we each put up on Facebook, but we had never clashed or even engaged over our differences. Because he's a good person who looks deeper in people than that.
And until yesterday, I thought I was, too.
This election has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and that includes the Trump victory. If his administration ends up following the roadmap of his campaign bluster, I will oppose him and his ideas at every turn. Until he demonstrates that he is truly Presidential in more than title, I won't apologize for being part of the opposition.
But my distaste for the President-elect doesn't extend to the democratic process, nor to those who participated in it. And if I slung mud at anyone who didn't sling it at me first, I regret that. And I'm sorry.
You guys, we can't let fear turn to anger. We can't let anger fester in our hearts and certainly not in our brains. Or, I don't know, maybe you can. I can't. And from this point forward, I won't.
George the Bass Player...I know you probably won't see this. But on the off chance you do: I'm going to miss being your friend.