I cannot believe this is our second election cycle since moving to the US. Clearly, we’ve been here too long!! I didn’t really want this post to be about the election, as a) I’m so stressed, exhausted and sick to death of it all, and b) everything that could possibly be said about the whole thing has been said, but of course, it’s unavoidable. And so here you are. In just over 24 hours, it’ll all be over. Or rather, it will be the beginning of something new, something dangerous, something scary, whatever the results. It’s a strange feeling, living here while not being able to vote, trying to understand how this country got to this point. Witnessing how families are affected by the polarizing forces of this election, how grandkids no longer see their grandparents because of the huge clash of opinions, has been eye-opening. This is not your usual election.
Moving from a blue state to a red state mid-election cycle has obviously been interesting, but on a personal level, on a daily basis, things aren’t that different here in Austin. People we surround ourselves with here are mostly the same type we have always surrounded ourselves with, whether American, German or British, and there’s the same degree of baffled disbelief across the board. But Texas is a huge state, and the people of Austin are by no means a representation of the average Texan. Still, being here, right here where it’s all going on feels quite different to, say, sitting in Munich and reading about Trump’s antics, in a kind of detached way, shaking your head and looking at pictures and videos with disgusted fascination. Very different to walking out of your house to encounter a “Trump/Pence” sign on your neighbour’s lawn.
I spend a good two hours each day roaming the hills around our house with the dog, and so I see and notice a lot. Including the fact that while this area has been staunchly dotted with “I’m with Her” lawn signs (some of which used to be Bernie signs but made a pretty smooth transition once he was out), I have noticed a definite increase in Trump signs just those last couple of weeks (I’m still trying to get the dog to do his business right next to said sign, but 5 metres is as close as we’ve managed). So yes, it’s REAL. There are people here who support this man, and they drive their car past you, and they smile and wave at you. And you know they will never change their minds. The other day, E and her friend spotted a lone Trump sign on a solidly Hillary street, walked up to the front door, making up a school project regarding the election, so that they could sneak a peek at a Trump supporter. They said it was a very old (white) lady, and all she said was she wanted someone to give her the old America back. This kind of argumentation sounds all too familiar. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of phrasing we heard from the (overwhelmingly older) Brexit voters in the UK earlier this year. There is simply no amount of information that will change their minds. They are unaware that they need to educate themselves more, and will not be told.
But that kind of voter is old, and while I don’t want to use age as an excuse, it doesn’t bother me as much as the voter who is my age and younger, who really should know better.
Just as I was talking to F about the candidates, and about how it is incomprehensible that any woman could vote for Trump, we pulled up to a Trump bumper sticker on a family SUV at a red light. And when I looked over, curious to see what such a person might look like, I saw it was a woman younger than me with two small kids in the back. That’s who I really want to scream at and force to get educated. And I know I never can, and they never will.
And so America is bracing herself against a storm, a storm that’s coming, even if Hillary closes the deal, a storm that’s only just beginning.