Last night a candidate for the presidency of the United States said to millions of people in and across the world that if he was not elected that he would not concede to the decisions of the polity. Literally stated “I will look at it at the time.” A week prior, the same person encouraged a number of his followers to arm themselves while going to the polls to vote. He has in the past illicit violence from his followers, including telling them to attack protestors.
For some reading this it seems comical that someone running for political office in the 21st century, where we have hover-boards and Frank Ocean, could possibly be using Fascist language so flippant. And yet, the truth is stranger than fiction.
In the US Indigenous people’s, black and brown folks, queer and trans folks, people with disabilities, and other people living on the margins know Americans rise to the occasion when it comes to nationalistic and xenophobic waves.
Until last night when that man said he would ‘think about conceding’ I had resigned myself to deal with the news media, to keep my head down and to try to organize events that helped assuage some of my discomfort around this election.
For many displaced people’s, when a politician says they won’t accept the results of an election giant red flags go off. Statements such as those have very real and dangerous consequences that result in sanctions, states of emergency, and unrest.
For many US born people, the thought of the country erupting into unrest seems far-fetched, almost dystopic. But for some of us, for me, that thought makes me just a little more cautious. It makes me check when to vote early in the event supports of that politician actually bring guns to polling places. It makes me say I love you to my husband every day before I leave the house. It reminds me of how tenuous a life can be in the wake of political uncertainty.
When a politician says xenophobic things and is allowed to make gross inaccurate statements about refugees, immigrants and other foreign-born people with impunity it makes all of us a little more cautious. As an American, my civic duty was forged from the 15+ years of having to take days off from school to go to the immigration office, bio-metric tests, thousands of dollars in filing the paperwork, an immigration officer spelling my name incorrectly on my green card (even after I corrected them), studying 100 questions for a test (where I had to take off school), and eventual citizenship.
The time, energy, and money it took my family to gain citizenship in this country was a sacrifice. Having to leave our country of origin because of a 15 year civil war was a sacrifice. Not knowing if I would ever see my siblings again as they lived through and survived a brutal war between the government and rebel factions, was a sacrifice. So to hear a nominees for the presidency claim that immigrants are negatively impacting the US (as the US incites violence and conflict across the world) is disheartening. To later hear that same person encourage violence against anyone going to vote that ‘looks foreign born’ is infuriating. And to know what it took to be able to vote in this country as a black woman, as an immigrant, makes me despondent.
I get that this election has been strange for many, comical for some, but for a lot of us, for folks who have left places of conflict this election is terrifying. Having the right to vote in the US doesn’t make you special, it makes you responsible for the folks who can’t yet, or ever. So while everyone talks about ‘nasty women‘ and cackle about the fact that bigly isn’t a word, know that some of us are fearful that November 9th will come and we won’t get to see it.