I’m irate. So, I’m going to write.
I am still in absolute shock.
This doesn’t feel real.
I cannot make sense of the results of this election. I’m feeling so many mixed-up, irrational things – all of which are all valid. I can’t find peace.
The morning after the election, everything felt surreal and quiet, but also so loud it was inescapable. I watched the sunrise after a night of barely any sleep, and I thought, “how can the sun even rise after all of this?” I felt hopeless.
I can recover from losing one night of sleep; the implications of November 8, 2016 are permanent.
I am devastated, and afraid. I’m afraid as a Jew, a woman, as someone who identifies with the LGBTQIA+ community. I’m sad. I’m just so sad.
Now, not even 48 hours after the election, I’m somewhere between wondering how we’re supposed to just go about our normal business, and thinking that we have to keep moving forward. I’m somewhere between wanting to check-in with my friends and loved ones who are clearly hurting too, and being so exhausted by even just the premise of one more conversation about this damn election. For three days, I’ve been vacillating between all the feels, and sometimes experiencing them all at once – sadness, rage, and fear, panic, numbness, resentment, and disbelief. I’m trying to decide what our “new normal” will look like, and how it’s possible that this can all be okay. Everything feels unfulfilling, and subdued.
The way I see it, the whole election season can be likened to a story plot:
- Exposition and Inciting Incident – Primary Elections
- Rising Action – Debate Season, and the Campaigns
- Climax – Election Day
- Falling Action – The Immediate Aftermath
- Resolution – The Future (if we’re being hopeful)
Election seasons retell and predict the ongoing story of our country, and our democracy. We are forced, through this process, to remember what we’ve accomplished, set grandiose goals and plans, and yearn for possibility, and the triumphs ahead. Living through this experience unscathed is practically impossible. Living through this story unaffected is unforgivable.
I’m not even going to try to write a monumental, millennial values inspired post about white supremacy, the patriarchy, and our not-so-post-racial America because I cannot process any of this coherently enough, yet, to write anything ineligible. All I want to say right now is, “No. Hell No.”
No – it’s not going to be okay. No – we can’t just preach about unity, and expect the country to come together. No – it’s doesn’t matter that he’s “just one man”. No – as long as racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc. are raging through our country’s veins it’s not going to be okay.
I don’t feel like listening to anyone’s remarks about giving him a chance, or how as a country we needed something radically different, and she wasn’t it. I don’t care about WHY it happened, whose votes we “missed”, and who we didn’t “predict” would vote (Ahem… white people everywhere). I don’t care if it seems like I’m being immature. I just need a way to process this; I need to figure out how we move forward, and what to do next.
So, instead, right now, I’m going to turn my energy to music, and the voices and stories that have already so beautifully and precisely articulated many of the feelings I’m experiencing – Broadway musicals. I’m finding solace, validation, authenticity, and explanation in this music, and these plots. Both the lyrics and the musical composition intimately portray feelings such as excitement, disappointment, loss, dread, hope, and optimism. I’m searching for clarity in a space I have reliably found to be filled with love and truth. I need to warm my soul; I’ll use the energy and beauty of Broadway to illuminate a path forward.
Here’s my best attempting at processing, at mapping, my emotions throughout the trajectory of this election story in Broadway songs. [You can access the full playlist here]
Exposition and Inciting Incident:
- Politics and Poker – Fiorello – “Gentlemen, how about some names we can use?/ Some qualified Republican who’s willing to lose.”
- The Election of 18000 – Hamilton – “Can we get back to politics?… / the country is facing a difficult choice”
- Popular – Wicked – “It’s not about aptitude/ It’s the way you’re viewed / So it’s very shrewd to be/ Very very popular/ Like me!”
- Anything You Can Do – Annie Get Your Gun – Anything you can do, I can do better!/ I can do anything better than you!
[Frank:] No you can’t!
[Annie:] Yes, I can!
[Frank:] No, you can’t!
[Annie:] Yes, I can!
[Frank:] No, you can’t!
[Annie:] Yes, I can, Yes, I can!”
- Cue: In The Heights and West Side Story
- Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little – “And the worst thing/ Of course, I shouldn’t tell you this but-“
- The Corrupt Bargain – Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – “We need to find a scheme to keep the power in the hands of the chosen few.”
- Somebody’s Eyes – Footloose – “Somebody’s eyes are watching/ Somebody’s eyes will never close, never sleep/ Somebody’s after the secrets that you keep /Who’s got alibis/ From somebody’s eyes?”
- Take Me or Leave Me – RENT – “So be wise/ Cause this girl satisfies/ You’ve got a prize, so don’t compromise/ You’re one lucky baby”
Climax (in this particular order):
- It’s Gonna be Good – Next to Normal – “It’s gonna be great! It’s gonna be great!/ It’s gonna be great. Fucking great.”
- Maps – Fun Home – “Maps show you what is simple and true”
- Totally Fucked -Spring Awakening – “Totally Fucked”
- Edges of the World – Fun Home – “It’s a lot. It’s a lot to keep under control…/ Dear Al, I’m scared/ I had a life I thought I understood.”
- Tomorrow – Annie – “When I’m stuck in the day that’s grey and lonely/ I just stick up my chin and grin and say oh…/ The sun’ll come out tomorrow!”
- I Dreamed a Dream – Les Miserables – ” There was a time when love was blind/ And the world was a song/ And the song was exciting/ There was a time/Then it all went wrong”
- Memory – Cats – “Memory/All alone in the moonlight/ I can dream of the old days/ Life was beautiful then/ I remember the time/ I knew what happiness was/Let the memory live again”
- Without You – RENT – “The tears dry without you/ Life goes on but I’m gone”
- Quiet – Matilda – “And my heart is pounding/ And my eyes are burning/ And suddenly everything, everything is… Quiet/ Like silence, but not really silent.”
- All That’s Known – Spring Awakening – “Still, I know to trust my own true mind/ And to say ‘There’s a way through this'”
- No One is Alone – Into the Woods – “Hard to see the light now/ just don’t let it go/ things will come out right now/ we can make it so/ Someone is on your side/ No one is alone.”
- Solidarity – Billy Elliot – “Solidarity forever/ All for one and one for all”
- I’m Here – The Color Purple – “I’m gonna take a breath/ Gonna hold my head up/ Gonna put my shoulders back/ And look you straight in the eye…And I’m thankful for every day that I’m given/ Both the easy and hard ones I’m livin'”
- Light – Next to Normal – “Day after day (day after day)/ We’ll find the will to find our way/ Knowing that the darkest skies will someday see the sun.”
- Climb Ev’ry Mountain – The Sound of Music – Climb every mountain/ Ford every stream/ Follow every rainbow/ Till you find your dream”
The list could go on and on, and I could select other lyrics that evoke similar or different emotions from these same songs. The fact is, I cannot silence my feelings, and I won’t apologize for being melodramatic or overreacting. This is serious, and I don’t know how else to grieve. Thankfully, there’s music.
Want to share your thoughts? In the comments feel free to contribute to this list! Which songs do you associate with the tumultuous journey we’re all on?
P.s. Also, don’t miss the The Crazy 2016 Campaign, in Song featured on The New Yorker Radio Hour 🙂