Being in Israel for a presidential election that has this much influence on our future has been a very difficult experience. Starting with the voting process, citizens living abroad have additional paperwork than the traditional absentee voter paperwork. I filled mine out before I left for Israel, and had my parents send it in during my first week here. The ballots are then not mailed, but either faxed or emailed to the voter. Near the end of September I got my email with directions on how to vote, my ballot, and a special signature sheet approving that I am who I say I am. The most nerve-wrecking part of voting for me was then having to snail-mail my ballot back to the US. It was either 30 NIS ($8) to regular mail it, or 80 NIS ($21) for express mail. Because I was sending it at the very beginning of October, with over a month until the election, I opted for the regular mail option. I checked my tracking number almost daily, and know that my ballot was received on October 17.
Throughout my entire time in Israel I have been asked by many people my opinion on the election. From other tourists I had met in hostels to the teachers I work with in my school, and they all have their own opinions. Many people from other countries honestly thought our election was a joke, many of them comparing it to Brexit, and they thought there was no chance Trump could win. Israelis, on the other hand, are split. Just like in the US, the liberals here preferred Clinton, and the right wing were huge fans of Trump, because he has shown more support and been a better ally to this country than Clinton.
On November 8, because of the time difference, we were unable to see any results before we went to bed, so the two other Americans in my apartment and I decided to go to bed earlier than usual, and we all woke up at 5 AM Israeli time (10 pm EST) to watch the results. We were able to pull up CNN, and plugged in a computer to our TV to see what was unfolding. I was honestly so sick to see that Michigan and Wisconsin had turned red (Pennsylvania was still blue at that point) I was shock to see how well Trump was doing, because all of the polls I had checked in the weeks leading up to the day showed Hillary in the lead. We stopped watching around 6:30 to start getting ready for school, and there was a silence in our apartment. No one knew what to say. I knew that it was going to be a difficult day at school. When my teacher picked me up, I saw she was wearing a Lovin USA shirt with a picture of a bald eagle on it. Like most of Israel, my teachers were split over who likes Clinton and who likes Trump. The hardest part of the day was having teachers constantly asking me what I thought during the breaks. Even at the beginning of lessons, students bombarded me with questions. To them, I would just say I am not talking about the election.
I was on the verge of tears all day. I wanted to cry for my friends of color and friends of the Muslim faith who are now scared to even walk outside due to racist assholes attacking them. I wanted to cry for my LGBT friends who are scared they are no longer going to be able to openly and freely be who they are and live the lives they want to live. I wanted to cry for all of my friends who are immigrants who are now scared that they are going to be sent back to the country they came from. I wanted to cry myself and all the women I know who are now scared of the rights we are going to have stripped from us. But, I want everyone back home to remember, we as a country did not elect Donald Trump. Our rigged system elected him. Hillary won our country’s vote. We, that voted for her, need to stand together and support one another.
I woke up this morning still upset that our election system let us down. I was fortunate enough to have today off of school so I had time to myself to actually start processing everything that has gone on in the last few months. I wish I could be home to offer hugs and support to those who need it. This is going to be a rough patch in our history, but I can only pray that we overcome better than we were before.