It was supposed to be an upbeat story in Women’s Health magazine about how to take your anger and convert it into something useful. Like making lemonade from lemons. Unfortunately for the intended purpose, the article just comes off as just plain angry and the author just can’t get over her anger. No lemonade from her very angry lemons.
The story was written by former Hillary for America employee Amanda Litman who, despite her effort to make her anger constructive, obviously fails in that attempt. However, the fringe benefit of her story is the unintended humor it presents the readers in the form of a look into the Drama Queen mindset of an angry liberal on Election Night and the time since then. She puts on a sort of very unconvincing happy face in ‘I Wake Up And Go To Sleep Angry—And That’s A Good Thing’:
I didn’t cry right away on Election Night.
Instead, I made jokes. As an employee of Hillary for America, I spent that night in the staff room at the Javits Center with my coworkers, underneath a literal glass ceiling that we were planning to metaphorically crack upon our shared victory. We watched the results roll in on a projected TV, laptops out and phones plugged in, refreshing Twitter and expecting good news—and then, later that night, praying for a miracle.
When it became evident that things weren’t going our way, I perched myself on a table and asked my co-workers which Friends scenes they could recite by heart and whether they were Team Dean, Jess, or Logan from Gilmore Girls. Each time a pundit called another state for Trump, I focused on my singular goal of making people smile—or at least, distracting them.
Did you hear the joke about Hillary meeting two Russian uranium oligarchs in a bar and…?
So, on Election Night, I did what I did best and turned off my feelings. Even while everyone else around me was crying, hugging, and shaking, I couldn’t let more than a few silent tears slide down my cheeks, even though there was truly no shame in weeping. Especially in that place. Especially at that moment.
That lasted all of maybe two hours. Sometime before 1 a.m., I stepped into the hallway and saw the co-worker who knew me best, who’d seen me cry before, who often knew what I was thinking before I’d even said a word. We’d been fighting in the weeks leading up to Election Day, but in that moment, we put our skirmish aside as he looked me dead in the eyes, reached over, and put his arm around me. That’s when I broke down.
“All the little boys who are going to grow up thinking they can treat women horribly and still become president..,” I raged between ugly-cries. “All the little girls who are going to think they deserve it…” I sniffled again. “What was it all worth? What was the f-cking point of anything we just did? Two years of our lives, for what? For that racist to win?”
Sniff! Donald Trump ruined my life but I’m going to pretend that it had a positive impact on me even though I’m as shattered as that phony glass ceiling at Javits Center was supposed to be.
I didn’t recognize who I was anymore. Before the election, I was never a yeller, a crier, a feel-anything-all-er, and yet now, somehow, I’m all of those things.
I wake up and go to sleep angry.
Day after day. Every day. For all eternity unto the end of time.
Especially in those weeks after the election, every new headline about Trump’s administration felt like a gut punch. I couldn’t look at the New York Times push notifications on my phone without thinking about the alternate universe where Hillary was president and Trump was a joke. I wanted to apologize to every woman I met on the street for letting her down. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “This isn’t what was supposed to happen! It wasn’t supposed to feel this way!”
Would it help if I got you a VR helmet so you can experience the virtual reality of a Hillary presidency in an alternate universe?
But just feeling angry and upset and tired was unsustainable and unproductive. And as someone unaccustomed to feeling anything at all—let alone this all-encompassing rage—I couldn’t tolerate it. So I went with the only coping mechanism I know: work.
In the weeks after Election Day, I had been hearing from high school and college friends who wanted help running for office. They were angry, too. They wanted to do something, but they didn’t have anywhere to turn. I noodled on the big problems in the professional progressive ecosystem and why it was so hard for young, diverse people to get in the door in the first place. I questioned the entire idea of gatekeepers, of a party that prioritized the ability to get donors to write big checks over a candidate’s talent or hustle. I made call after call to learn as much as I could about why progressive institutions weren’t supporting younger candidates for office.
And then I spent hours with my friend, Ross Morales Rocketto, writing a strategic plan and dreaming up the outline of an organization that would recruit 100 people—100 doers!—who’d run for local office, where the real work gets done. I wanted to find people like me who wouldn’t be satisfied with just being angry. I wanted to find people who were ready to get to work.
Were you the one who recruited Jon “Victory for the Ages” Ossoff?
When Ross and I launched our organization Run for Something on Inauguration Day, I wasn’t sure what would happen but I immediately felt better for having tried at all. Ten months later, we’ve recruited nearly 12,000 young people who want to run for local office. We’re a staff of four, supported by a nationwide network of donors and volunteers with partners at nearly every political group in the country. As of this writing, we’ve endorsed candidates running in 19 states. At the same time, I wrote a book that represents the mission of our organization, aptly entitled Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide To Fixing The System Yourself, which came out from Atria Books in October. (With a foreword from my old boss Hillary about why it’s still worth it to run for office, even if you lose.)
A better title would be Run From Something. About running from your own anger that you can’t hide.
In so many ways, I feel better than I ever could have imagined when I dragged my tired body to that concession speech on November 9, 2016. I see Run for Something candidates taking on challenges, knocking on doors, and talking to voters about their own visions for what the future holds, and I can’t help but be hopeful.
That hope keeps me going. But even still, I wake up and go to sleep angry. Because in 2017, it is exhausting and frustrating to be a woman in America. Each day brings another indignity, another outrage—another story of a powerful man who’s built his career by literally and figuratively pushing women down and taking advantage of them.
You can’t help but be hopeful and yet you still wake up and go to sleep angry? BTW, have you thought of writing a script about a powerful man who built his career by pushing women down and taking advantage of them and then shopping it out to Miramax?
Every memo I write, every donor I meet with, every reporter I speak to, each conversation I have, is guided by strategy but fueled by the fury I feel at my country, at dangerous men, at my party, and at the very system of democracy I love that painfully let me down.
I know you might be angry, too. Instead of resisting it, or avoiding it, let your fury push you to action. Embrace your anger and put it to work. This is our collective fight-or-flight moment. Pick fight. Pick leading. And dare I say it: Pick running for office.
Yeah, that’s the trick. Convert your anger into fury at your country.