As a millennial woman, this is what I have to lose if Trump becomes our president.
“We are going to make America great again!” Trump spits from my screen.
Thousands cheer; millions tremble. Most of us watch, horrified, elated, transfixed.
“He won’t win,” my roommate assures me. “And even if he does, he won’t be able to do all the things he wants to do. There are enough good people… They won’t let him get away with it.”
I nod, and we fall silent.
For some of us, it’s easy to distance ourselves from this election because it feels so absurd and surreal … like a nightmare unfolding in the palms of our hands.
As long as there’s a screen between us and the fear, as long as presidential debates feel more science fiction than "Black Mirror," we can hide behind sassy sound bites and meticulously manufactured indifference without ever pausing to ask ourselves that terrifying question:
What if Trump actually wins?
But for others of us, this election holds a lot of evident risk.
This August, Trump asked Americans of color what they have to lose if they vote for him. Upworthy staff writer Erin Canty posted a powerful response. And when I read what she had to say, the screen cracked. For the first time, I thoroughly considered the consequences — the true consequences — of a Trump presidency.
As a cisgendered middle-class white woman, I’d never really had to think about it. In this election, my privilege is evident. Trump’s America would be kinder to me than it would to almost any other demographic and that security can make it easy to become complacent.
When I finally set aside the blinders of my privilege, though, I remembered two very important things:
First, I remembered that being an intersectional feminist means concerning myself with the difficulties that all men and women face — and not just those that directly affect me. This is easy to forget and important to remember. There is much at stake in this election, especially for the minority members of our communities.
Second, I am reminded that there are certain losses from which checks and balances cannot protect us. These are losses of a less literal nature that require no legislation, that we would all suffer the second the results of the election reveal my worst fear.
It turns out, in Trump’s America, there’s actually a lot both you and I stand to lose, the least of which has to do with one important idea: hope.
1. As a woman, I would lose my self-worth and sense of security.
When you look at his words and actions, Trump’s misogyny paints in vivid detail what life as a woman would look like in his America. It involves women figuratively dropping to their knees, and no, it’s not a "pretty picture."
Trump’s America isn’t one that respects its women. Trump’s America is an America that values us based on the appearance of bodies we aren’t legally allowed to control. It’s an America of legislators that would pass more regulations on my uterus than on a corporation, that would punish women in back alleys but pardon men in locker rooms. It’s an America where you get six months for being a rapist and 16 years for exposing one.
Trump’s America is an America where men have more rights to my body than I do. I can’t feel valued; I can’t feel safe in an America like that.
2. As an American, I would lose my national pride.
America is a flawed country with so much work to do. But when I look back at how far we’ve come, I’m so proud to belong to a nation that always strives to become better than we were.
But how can I be proud of an America that won’t acknowledge its mistakes? An America that condemns the audacity of the first lady reminding us that our nation was built by slaves, yet refuses to see the problem with a country whose government only took one year to kill 102 unarmed black men but 232 years to elect one.
I can’t be proud of an America where guns have more protections than the people who die by them, an America that’s horrified by a transgendered person in the “wrong” bathroom but numb to the news of yet another mass shooting. I can’t be proud of an America of nearly 4 million square miles that only has room for Native Americans on its sports jerseys.
I can’t be proud of Donald Trump’s America, an America that refuses to change.
3. As a human, I would lose some faith in our future.
Progress is never perfect. There’s no civilization in this world that has only just moved forward. Every now and then, we falter, take a step back, and then find our footing again.
But we can’t afford to fall this far. America needs to keep moving. If we backtrack now, I don’t know how we’ll recover. If we let our fear paralyze us, or turn us on each other, hate will divide us.
At the end of the day, no matter who you’re voting for, one thing is true: We all want America to be great.
I don’t believe in Trump, but I believe in that.
From now on, I'm making a promise to stop pointing fingers at the “bad people” who made this mess and the “good people” who will fix it. It’s time to take responsibility for my country, to turn my disillusionment into determination and my inaction into incentive.
It’s time to ask ourselves what we can do to make this America one we can believe in.
Let’s get to work.
What the hell do you have to lose?