Voting in Protest: How Could They?!

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The trusting, aging hippie in me believes that every bit of protest we can muster will be effective in the end. I just do not know what to say to the people who thought Trump would look after them and to the people who just wanted to send a message to Washington.

“This is no time for a protest vote!”

To think I actually said that. What the hell was I thinking?

I know exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking that my fellow aging hippies and the Bernie Sanders Millennials would protest the two central candidates to make their voices heard and decide that “she” wouldn’t win. But that is not what happened.

The very least likely voter of all to take the protest vote route just did – those who cast their ballots for Donald Trump. And they decided that Trump is now President-Elect. They wanted to send a message. They wanted to let folks in Washington know they wanted change. They wanted to say the system is rigged. And I firmly believe they did not all want him to govern them in January.

This is how white women, Latinos, African Americans – the very least likely to benefit from a Republican government – voted him into office.

I know in my heart of hearts that if Senator Sanders had loudly endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton early on, when it was clear she would be the party’s nominee, the vote difference would have put her over the top. I know that. And I can’t blame the third party candidates for wanting to be heard either. That’s a hallmark of our democracy.

But here’s the thing: the pollsters were asking the wrong question. Will you vote FOR one candidate or the other? It doesn’t allow for the answer this group of voters wanted to give. And they may have believed that by voting for him, they were in fact supporting her agenda. But throwing yourself off a cliff to let the local authorities know there should be a railing there does not really solve your problem.

I am exhausted from the anxiety this election has brought – unlike any other in my lifetime of voting. In fact, the trusting, aging hippie in me really believes that every bit of protest we can muster will be effective in the end. I just do not know what to say to the people who thought Trump would look after them and the people who just wanted to send a message to Washington.

My only consolation at this moment is twofold. I will wear a safety pin and I will keep writing. Everyone has their outlet for protest. These will be mine.

Anne Born is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus, (2014), Prayer Beads on the Train (2015), and Waiting on a Platform (2016). Her work has been published in the Newtown Literary Journal and in “Me, as a Child” and ”All About My Name” Series published by Silver Birch Press. She is the editor of These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology (2016), and her essay on Hillary Clinton’s religious faith was included in Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, edited by Joanne Bamberger. Her poetry has been featured in New York at Boundless Tales, Word Up Community Bookstore, and the Queens Council on the Arts. She has been a featured performer with Inspired Word New York City, the New York Transit Museum, and on Queens Public TV in The World of Arts. Anne divides her time between New York and Michigan, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Follow Anne Born at The Backpack Press, and on Twitter, Redbubble, Wattpad, and Instagram @nilesite. Listen to Born in the Bronx podcasts on Our Salon Radio.

Image via Flickr/Darron Birgenheier

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