I’ve never been a terribly confident person. Now, sure, if my close friends ask me for the millionth time to do my tried and true Alanis Morissette impression, I’m not going to waiver. Compare that, however, to getting up on a stage and performing, or introducing myself to a classroom full of strangers, or co-anchoring an entire election night’s worth of coverage, and you’ve got a situation that’ll leave my hands shaking. Despite all this, I actually somehow put myself in that last position. On real, live radio, I signed up to co-host five hours’ worth of impromptu discussions, candid interviews, and–oh God, the horror–ad libbing. In my mind, I’d be facing my worst fears–or so I thought.
Okay, so everyone has an opinion, or at least most of us do. I am particularly noted as commonly having strong ones. However, I worked hard the night of the election to remain unbiased. I tried not to code my language or reveal something in the tone of my voice, and in the early stages of the night, I thought I was doing a pretty good job. It wasn’t like the candidate I truly and honestly feared, was going to win… right?
I learned a lot more than I had expected whilst covering this election. And one of those things is sometimes, if what you’re covering is going to make you lose your cool, you simply have to go to the bathroom on one of your fleeting breaks, have a three minute cry, and then get back to work. This was a valuable lesson for me, and one I plan to hold on to. After a half hour, my nerves were overcome, but my emotions were another story altogether. What I took away from this experience that night is that, if I can just hold it for a little while (and keep holding, and keep holding even longer if I must), there’s nothing wrong with an emotional release–as long as I still get the job done.
I had always thought it would be exciting to live in a swing state, to have the whole country look to your state on the night of the election. I thought it would thrilling to know that your vote, every vote, matters in this race. But what I learned in this election is that it isn’t fun to be from a swing state. It’s actually the most terrifying thing in the world.
I grew up in Michigan, a state that in my memory has always voted blue. I thought I knew my state. I thought that there was no way a Republican candidate could win our 16 electoral votes. I laughed at anyone who predicted that Michigan would be a state to watch on election night. But as I write this, President-elect Donald Trump has just been declared the winner of our state. A whole 20 days after election night, the votes have finally been counted.
I view my state differently now. I question who I know that might have voted for Donald Trump. I wonder what drew so many people, people who had similar experiences to me, to this candidate. My whole life, I’ve always seen Republican states as a faraway places; but now I am living in one. It’s a fact I couldn’t believe on election night. As the numbers came in, I kept telling myself, “They haven’t counted Wayne county, Washtenaw county is only 30% in, and Oakland county is always late.” Michigan wasn’t officially declared on November 8th, so I was able to convince myself that Trump didn’t win my home state. But he did. On November 28th, Donald Trump was declared the winner of Michigan with a 10,704 vote margin.
Now I know my wishes for being in a swing state were misguided. There is nothing exciting about living in uncertainty. There is no glamour in not knowing what your next-door neighbor is truly thinking. I would gladly give up any excitement of being in a swing state to get my boring true-blue state back.