I will admit that I’ve been somewhat obsessively reading article after article on the US election. I even regularly check Trump’s Twitter account to see what on earth he could up to, berating people for actions that he himself had committed only so recently – read: Hamilton’s message to Mike Pence, and how he accused them of bullying when Trump had bullied SO many people.

It all just makes so little sense to my rational brain, and yet, I also rationally understand how we’ve arrived here.

I recently read this article from The New Yorker.  It’s long, but it’s worth it.  Well written, well considered.

Presented through David Remnick’s campaign-long interview of Barack Obama.  And his piece, in my opinion, speaks to the importance of media now more than ever.

Remnick says of the President-elect, “Trump understands the new ecosystem, in which facts and truth don’t matter. You attract attention, rouse emotions, and then move on” – today’s New Yorker cartoon depicted just that.

So this is where we are in North America.  The post-truth society?  Eek.  History will always be full of surprises, and lessons and this is just another of those.

I hope Remnick’s analysis of Obama speaks a larger truth about the future: ‘there is no denying the depths of Obama’s humbling. He fully grasps the nature of the bigotry and the nihilism that Trump has espoused in the name of working-class empowerment. Obama’s way is to keep cool while insisting on, and embodying, a faith in institutions’.

The complexity of Marie Henein

I admit it, I loved Marie Henein’s column in this past Thursday’s Globe and Mail.  It was so timely, so well-articulated, so powerful.

I loved her statement, ‘Donald Trump isn’t the first demagogue to be carried to power – and carried he was’.

Demagogue, as defined by Wikipedia: ‘a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument’.  Sounds about right.

I also have to say that I had to gut-check myself when I admitted that I was loving a feminist article written by the lawyer who defended Jian Ghomeshi.

During the Ghomeshi trial, I wondered what Marie Henein’s motivations were.  She’s clearly a strong, motivated and accomplished person.

And then I landed on my hypothesis: Henein believes in defending and improving the legal system that we have (seems pretty basic).  Maybe she chose to defend Mr. Ghomeshi because she believed in ensuring that the system protects people on both sides, and because this trial would be precedent-setting.  Because precedents are important.  Or maybe she was making a play for her firm.  Or maybe she wanted to show that a feminist could play on both sides of the equation.

The court of public opinion convicted Jian Ghomeshi as guilty.  I will admit that I’m in that camp.  I don’t have any strong beliefs that he was guilty of the specific charges brought forth in the trial.  I do, however, know that there is a lot of narratives indicating that he had a deep-seated belief of being, in some way, superior to women – or that women owed him something.  Which is a terrifying.

Marie Henein is complex.  And I love that.  I’ll go with what she said about the matter of defending Mr. Ghomeshi: “I am not conflicted about being a strong feminist and what I do in court. I just don’t feel a need to justify what I do or explain myself.”

I don’t know her, and chances are that I will never meet her.  I’ll likely never know the specific reasons she chose to defend Mr. Ghomeshi.  But I admire her complexity.

The question I’m left with

Like many others, I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on the election in the USA – talking to people, reading stories and articles, watching interviews and just reflecting on what it all means to me.

I was lucky to spend the days before, during and after the election in Washington, DC, surrounded by the history, beauty, and hope that place radiates.

In preparing for my work trip to DC, I was telling many of my friends in Canada that I would be there for the election and that I was nervous.  They re-assured me that Mr. Trump couldn’t possibly win – how could someone win when they acted so unprofessionally, so hateful, so… unhinged?  I hoped they were right.  I still felt unsettled.

I’ve continued to feel unsettled since Tuesday night as the results rolled in.  I’ve felt sad and also afraid.  I’ve been working through so many thoughts and haven’t yet had the courage to write any down because I’ve honestly been afraid of speaking publicly about my thoughts.

I know, it sounds irrational, right?  But that’s what fear is.  It’s driven by that dark, most basic part of our brain.  Fear can be all-consuming.

I’m an introvert so I need time by myself to really get deep in my thinking.  I just flew into Denver from Washington, and had some solo-reflection time.  On the flight, I finished reading ‘Getting Naked’ by Patrick Lencioni.  It’s a beautiful business fable – really, if you don’t think business fables can be beautiful, check this one out.  Lencioni used his fable to discuss courage in business, and all of sudden I realized that by not speaking my mind, I wasn’t living my values of being courageous and taking risks.

I’ve been sad and afraid after the election because fear and protectionism won.  So many people – this small-town Canadian included – hoped to see the US believe that a woman could lead this country.  Not just because she was a woman, but because she was an imperfect (yes, we all are), deeply experienced, hard working professional and carried herself with infinitely more grace than her opponent did during the campaign.

And yet, once again, we ran into the glass ceiling.

Or was it the glass ceiling?  The rationale I’ve heard most often for why she lost is that Hillary lies.  The e-mails, oh, those e-mails.  So here’s the thing – why has Mr. Trump been confirmed of over 500 lies during his campaign, and not held to the same scrutiny?  All of the arguments I’ve heard against her were applicable to her opponent, and yet, she faced increased scrutiny about every aspect of her behaviour.  So yes, I believe the glass ceiling was at play here.

As a woman, I’m worried.  The photograph I saw of President-elect Trump looking over the polling station to see how Melania was voting was scary.  Although I wasn’t there, I’m about 99.9% certain President Obama or Prime Minister Trudeau never wondered if their spouse – their chosen life partner – would vote for them.  Maybe there was another motivation behind this behaviour of President-elect Trump?  I guess we’ll never know.

This election wasn’t about specific policies.  I agree that policy discussion was woefully absent.  And I also agree that ‘I’m with her’ wasn’t a great campaign tag line.  Reform is needed.  There’s unrest. People bought protectionism, and the hope that their lives would improve – I get that.  What I don’t get is why they couldn’t identify with a woman leading them to that better place.  They bought the narrative that a woman isn’t subject to extra scrutiny and hatred when she seeks a position of influence.

So many people I know have said, ‘if only Bernie had the nomination, he would have won’.  Saying this negates the fact that he conceded gracefully and then put his support behind his former opponent, Hillary.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Bernie is great and a person of deep integrity.  But it doesn’t get at the root of the deep-seated fear of a woman holding an office of such significant influence.

We all have bias.  I write this from my own bias, and you read it from yours.  I watched the ’60 Minutes’ interview from Sunday with President-elect Trump and his family, and it gave me hope that he wouldn’t govern totally by inciting fear and hate.  He carried himself with some grace and responsibility, as did his family. That’s a start.  And it shifted my bias.  Though he then made some rather scary appointments this morning.

It all leads me to the question: if you support Trump, or don’t support Hillary, my question for you is – who do you believe could lead the country that also happens to be a woman?