“I’m Sorry”

Pavel Rozman describes the atmosphere of disbelief and disillusionment following the American Presidential Election

Credit: Gage Skidmore; Wikipedia


“ People simply ask how I am – we don’t say the word election but we both know what we’re talking about.”

I wrote a piece on these pages about the US election a while ago and I’d like to say something before all else: I was wrong.

There is a laundry list of explanations people will give for the election’s outcome:  “DNC should have had Bernie run”, “Third party voters split the electorate”, “African-Americans didn’t turn out enough”, “Comey meddled with the election too late”, “Union laborers in Erie lied to the pollsters”, “Non-college educated baby boomers sought to redo 50 years of progress”, “Low income voters didn’t go for the Democrats like they did in 08”, “Biden could have won the rust belt states”, “The people who lost jobs didn’t trust an establishment and wanted to send a message.”, “America wasn’t ready for a female president.”, “She had an enthusiasm gap amongst the electorate”, “He was underestimated.”

In the aftermath of a disaster, we look at the scene for clues in order to establish what happened. Yet is there any good in pointing fingers?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me personally. People simply ask how I am – we don’t say the word election but we both know what we’re talking about. I’ve had external kindness reaffirmed when scores of people messaged me out of the blue just to say, “I hope you’re okay”. One classmate of mine asked the morning after how I was; still numb I just closed my eyes and shook my head. I’ve had calls from friends, family. A reporter in New York put it starkly, “people are walking around with thousand yard stares,” as if to silently ask what have we done?

Regardless of what side you’re on, the outcome was shocking. I spent time immediately after thinking about my career plans and how this might affect them. If anything, a Trump administration would make much more work for lawyers. I thought about how my day to day life would be affected. The conclusion I came to broadly was that most things wouldn’t change. But the only reason I can count myself lucky is because I have immense privilege. I was born in the United States. I’m a white, cisgender, straight male. My family is upper middle class; in other words, I’ll be okay. There are many others though who won’t, and I fear for them. I know my task is to protect their liberties and defend them from prejudice to the best of my ability: to speak out for those who can’t.