My First Presidential Election as a U.S. Citizen & How I’m Moving Forward

It’s coming up on my four-year anniversary as a U.S. citizen. Becoming an American citizen was not an easy choice, but the rewards have been worthwhile, in particular the right to vote and opportunity to serve on a jury. I made a pact to vote in every election, and it wasn’t until this last election that I was finally able to vote for a United States president.

For me, the presidential choice was an easy one. I was with her, especially considering whom she was running against. On Election Day, I was proud to cast my vote for Hillary and optimistic about the future. However, I was stunned and unprepared to see how quickly my optimism dwindled and left me feeling gutted. It wasn’t long after we began watching the election returns that dread and disbelief entered my consciousness, and I couldn’t shake it. I didn’t realize I was so personally invested in the results.

The next day, when I woke up to what our new world would be, I felt like I was in an alternate reality. I couldn’t even look at our newspaper. I was embarrassed and shocked that we had such a man as Trump as our new head of state. In social media and in real life, I saw so many other people’s disbelief and anger at the results as well. It didn’t help me feel any better.

Staying angry, depressed, and full of despair and saying that Trump is not my president doesn’t help me going forward. Hillary won the popular vote. Most of our country supported her. However, he is our country’s new president and we need to do what we can to make sure America doesn’t fail miserably and is better prepared for the next presidential election.

I have never really been extremely interested in politics nor actively involved in it. Maybe it’s because I’ve had no say in the outcomes. This election made me realize that just voting isn’t always enough; it’s equally important to actively participate in the democratic process as it is to vote.

Going forward, I vow to do the following:

  • I will not tune out politics, but instead I will stay informed and follow political issues. I will seek out sources of respected, high-quality media. I will also look for new sources that help me exit the echo chamber. I want to hear other people’s points of view. If you’re looking for a new source, consider a new favorite podcast of mine, Pantsuit Politics, where two women, one from the left and one from the right, discuss politics in a fresh and nuanced way. Similarly, I will not let inaccurate, incomplete, fake news, or my new favorite phrase, “alternative facts” pass me by without commenting.
  • I will make a conscious effort to read books outside my normal tendency and comfort zone – more books by diverse authors and about issues or experiences new or unfamiliar to me. To start with, I’m adding these books to my to-be-read list (and I welcome suggestions):
  • Similarly, I will make sure to continue to provide opportunities to strengthen my kids’ understanding, empathy, and compassion for people unlike themselves both at home and abroad, and books is a great place to do so. I’m lucky and grateful both my boys are avid and voracious readers and generally accept the book recommendations I pass along. I’ve sought out books to help them understand and appreciate their Norwegian heritage. Now I’ll make a conscious effort to suggest and offer books that will help them understand the experiences of marginalized groups and causes affected by our political discussions. I’ve got a list in progress and welcome suggestions.
  • I will take action and let my elected officials hear my voice. This has always been a big unknown for me. Who exactly do I call and what do I say? But now I’ve been motivated to find out the details. There’s been lots of help floating around the internet these past couple of months. To begin with, I’ve confirmed who all my elected officials are in Congress (representatives here and senators here). Next I’ve found sources that address issues of concern. The 65 (referring to the more than 65 million Americans who rejected Trump on Election Day) is a website dedicated to Weekly Calls to Action. They provide scripts for a long list of issues along with contact info for party leadership and tips and strategies. Another site is Women’s March: 10 Actions/100 Days. It’s a campaign aimed at mobilizing the energy from the Women’s Marches of January 21, 2017, across the country and the world and encouraging everyone to take action on issues we all care about.

These action items might not seem like much to some, but for me they are a good place to start. What are you doing in the aftermath of this election?

11 thoughts on “My First Presidential Election as a U.S. Citizen & How I’m Moving Forward

  1. This is probably the best and most comprehensive response I’ve read yet. (Too many people–editorial writers and others–are just wringing their hands in despair.) Congratulations on your first vote and for being so deeply involved in the process. I’ll just mention that I have childhood memories of Nixon, not to mention Reagan and the Bushes; I remember the night in 1994 when the Republicans won the Senate in an apparently surprise victory. I worked in Democratic politics at the time and I still recall the stunned faces of young volunteers who thought the world was changing on their (our) agenda. So, it’s quite common to feel that the government is something that needs to be opposed and that common decency and legal rights need to be defended, rather than just accepted, I’m bookmarking your post as something to forward to others, and as a resource for further action. Thanks!

  2. Great post and great list! I haven’t figured out exactly what I’m going to do yet but I’m going to borrow many of your action items.

  3. Love this. I too commit to becoming more proactive. I am considering several venues right now. I will however be active in whatever I ultimately decide to do. What I do wIll vary but I agree we have to be active. I, however, continue to struggle with the legitimacy of the election and plan to support and stay informed in anyway I can on that front.

    Two areas for sure I want to get more involved in: 1. Voters rights (in particular registration and making voting more accessible for all and gerrymandering 2. The electoral college – it is an antiquated system that was created to support equal say for slave states (it has to be reformed or go completely) – it makes no sense that HRC won the pop vote at such a margin and we have to live with the opposite of the will of the people- the will of the people is at the heart of the values of this country and in 2000 and now again in 2016 that Will was not represented ultimately. That has to change.

    Thank you for this. I commit to these two things for sure and am considering more.

    Congratulations on your first time voting in the US Election and I appreciate the richness your perspective brings to our country and embrace the growth your citizenship will enable as our country continues to grow into the greatness it promises for ALL.

  4. You felt exactly as I felt. The march of women, men, politicians, and celebrities give me hope. I too at almost 78 will do what I can, some of the things are on your list. Keeping hope alive.

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