The other day I made the mistake of looking at what I wrote in my diary on Nov. 7, 2016, the day before the last presidential election. As you can imagine it’s very embarrassing, but luckily, the entry is also brief.
Like so many other people, I’d felt certain that there was only one possible outcome for the 2016 election. “Hopefully, by this time tomorrow we’ll be well on our way to electing the first woman president,” reads the first sentence of the entry. “If we don’t—well I can’t think of that.”
I didn’t write again until mid-December.
Traumatized by our own certainty, most of us haven’t allowed ourselves to fully indulge the idea that Trump might lose. But imagining that he will doesn’t bring much comfort either: The president has suggested that he may claim a premature victory tonight, and that he may not accept the results at all if they don’t favor his re-election. The specter of impending violence looms over major cities, where some businesses are boarding up their storefronts in anticipation of mass protest. Despite encouraging violence among his supporters, Trump is following suit with a fence around the White House. There’s an uptick in gun sales, with some people on the left buying firearms for the first time out of fear of what the election results will bring.
I can’t bring myself to imagine any of these scenarios either, and instead have spent the last 48 hours or so almost completely numb. I’m mostly thinking of the last four years, and how they were in some ways so much worse (and often so weird, and dumb, and banal) than I’d expected when I learned Trump had won the election in the early hours of Nov. 9, because I did not yet know their exact shape.
And I’m scared of what I can’t expect and anticipate right now—and what a future self will know when she reads my diary entry from today.
But, really, haha, everything is fine. It’s just another totally normal fall morning, right?