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Published: November 9th 2016
Despite how the election developed, we knew it would be interesting to be overseas during the American election. In full disclosure, we were happy to be away from the whole messy process. We thought it would be peaceful to miss Election Day, changing the clocks and Halloween. Win. Win. Win.
Obviously, win is not exactly the best description. Maybe eye-opening is a better discription.
I mentioned earlier that the first question we faced at immigration in the Delhi airport was who we liked in the election. That was surprising. As we met Americans along our journey, it was clear no one wanted to discuss politics. We all avoided it like the plague. When we met Brits and Aussies, they could not wait even seconds to discuss the election that seemed to fascinate them.
We read the Indian newspapers and that is where we got most of our coverage of the early polls and predictions. Seeing America through the eyes of Indian newspapers was interesting. They described Trump supporters matter-of-factly as "white, uneducated males" and they made strong predictions that Latinos and women would carry the vote in favor of Hillary. Nearly everything we read suggested Hillary was winning. The editorials laughed at us, said we would get what we deserved and professed that maybe Americans were not as sharp as once thought.
In our past travels, whenever someone asks where we are from, we get a similar reaction. A smile. Respect. Intrigue. Even deference. Despite what American may believe, many other countries are fascinated with and like America. They like the glitz, the drama, the pop-cuture, the prosperity, the history and everything else that is America. They all want to travel to America. They want to see Washington, New York, and Las Vegas. They embrace the idea of the American Dream.
Today has been different. We are in a very remote part of India without encountering another American. We were the first in our area to know of the results of the election because we worked hard to seek them out. Today, when we had to tell people where we are from we were not granted respect. We were not considered the bad asses of the group.
The young Indians who learned of the election results looked at us with pity. We were the victims of the group. They wanted to save us or take care of us. An Indian women said, "we are devasted for you." The Brits who learned of the American election results reported feeling suddenly less worried about Brexit and more concerned about the already falling Asian markets caused by early rumblings of the election. They asked us what we could do about the results and we politely explained nothing.
I come from a long line of tough, proud, caring women--nothing to do with their political leanings, simply their gentics. My great-grandmother took my grandmother door-to-door helping women in the Attica, KS community sign up to vote for the first election that deemed women astute enough to vote. My grandmother was a young girl who remembered her mom explaining to her that some women would not sign up and some women's husbands would not approve of them voting.
No matter how my great-grandmother would have voted in our most recent election, she would have been amazed and proud that the women of America joined together to deem a woman astute enough to lead our country. Our plan was to post a Hillary sign in the cemetary where Nellie Ratliff Hunt is buried in her honor of advocating for women. That plan is no longer. I am glad she is not alive to see this day were millions of women chose not to vote or chose not to elect a woman president.
I knew Americans were scared of a black man running our country which brought about a great deal of hatred. I routinely told my husband, "the only thing that scares Americans more than a black man, is a smart woman." Rarely, do I wish I were wrong, but today is one of those days.
My dad is not doing well today. He suggested we go home because he is feeling clouded by depression and anger, but I refused to change the itinerary. I know that I would rather be here than at home, even if we are being pitied by everyone who discovers our nationality. Dad has removed himself off social media as part of his therapy and I suspect he will continue to be more reclusive when we return to the states.
Kyle is trying to enjoy India, but continues to worry about the impact this will have on the people who could not vote...the poor Americans, the undocumented Americans, the Syrians seeking safety.
We will return to our typical style of travel blogs tomorrow and I will return to keeping things apolitical, but I wanted to share the unique perspective we have experienced.
As Americans hang their heads in shame or bow their head in sorrow over the loss of their dignity and intellectual prowess, just know the world mourns with you. The snickering or jokes about America have turned to sincere sadness and empathetic concern.
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