My Election Postmortem: A Tearful Elegy for Hillary Clinton


Author’s Note: I have attempted to write this story on multiple occasions since the election, but a combination of denial and overwhelming sadness prevented its composition. Only now – a month after the election – could I really communicate my emotions.

On Nov. 8, my father shouted upstairs at 5:57 p.m. that the first polls would arrive in the next few minutes, and I immediately rushed down the stairs, abound with optimism and excitement.  

Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer of CNN then announced the results of three states – two for Trump and one for Clinton. While my optimism faltered for a mere second, I reassured myself that it was still early and that we would have never won North Carolina.

I proceeded back to my room where I vainly attempted to continue my homework while still periodically checking New York Times for any updates.

As the night progressed, my excitement fluctuated, ranging from assured statements of a Clinton victory to pessimistic doubts that I feared to indulge.

However, by 8:30 p.m., CNN began to discuss Trump’s likely victory in Wisconsin, a state bluer than the Caribbean seas, and I could no longer deny the possibility of a Trump White House. I broke down crying, shouting incomprehensible statements. In that moment, I was reduced to a screaming infant, helpless and scared.

My parents hopelessly watched my tears stream down my face, searching for any morsel of support they could give. My mother began to choke up.

All I could think about was my 13-year-old brother, Peter. Oh, little Pete. He will grow up in a country that seems complacent towards sexual assault, racism, xenophobia and the lives of anyone who is not white, Protestant and male. Will he become inured to this discrimination? Will he adopt these horrible viewpoints, having never really known anything else?

I couldn’t stop crying for Pete.

Then, I thought about my grandma. She had campaigned for Clinton, made phone calls to local Houstonians, donated to Hillary for America, sent me bumper stickers and T-shirts and article clippings denouncing Trump. She had been so excited to see the first female president, to see the years of her hard-work campaigning for the rights of women materialize.

How must she feel? To be honest, I did not want to imagine the pain and sorrow she must have felt. It was too much to bear.

I went to bed that night before they had called Ohio and Pennsylvania. I told my parents and friends it was because I had a long day at school, but truly I was a coward. I have long praised the benefits of a participatory democracy, yet even I could not accept the will of the people.

I showed up the next morning at school to find my peers sitting in circles, eulogizing President Obama while tearfully mourning Clinton’s loss. The election reinforced that these bright, ambitious and wonderful women were second-class citizens. America didn’t care if their president called these women pigs or groped them or denied their reproductive rights.

Hockaday has instilled in each of us that we matter, that our voices need to be heard, that we could make real change in the world. But America just spat on us and our ignorant idealism.

I couldn’t help but wonder whether the school sheltered us from the harsh reality. Would my peers and I graduate from this school in a year to find that everything we knew about equality and justice had been lies? Would men in college disregard our rejections of sexual advances, and would they call us derogatory terms and fail to respect us as intellectual equals?

I reject the assumption that Hockaday prevented us from recognizing the barriers that we will all face as we enter into the “real world.” Instead, they armed us with the knowledge that we deserve equal treatment, the courage to stand up for ourselves and the strong voices to advocate for our peers.  

Now, everytime I see a photo of Clinton – barefaced, distraught and defeated – I remind myself that I need to fight for her and for her message. Clinton broke barriers that my generation will benefit from for the rest of our lives. She suffered the immense cruelty of men and women who degraded her based on her gender. We cannot let her work die in vain.

I will never be able to fully thank Clinton for her bravery and ceaseless determination.

– Mary Orsak – Asst. News Editor –