November 8th, 2016 might have left many other people triggered, but the shock it left me with was something completely different. I worked for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and Ohio in 2008, and had spent eight years essentially waiting for her political return (in bliss, I’m a fan of President Obama). Election Day of 2016 was going to be my last day as a campaign operative- she was going to be elected, I knew who I wanted to follow into the administration, and I knew I was done with this- until it all just wasn’t. I remember almost every detail about the hotel room in Elizabeth City that I watched Trump’s victory speech in. I remember where we had the cases of beer that we were all going to celebrate with. I remember what spots on the floor which organizers were laying in, either sobbing or in total disbelief, as Trump was declared the winner.
I could sit here and wax poetic about my time in North Carolina in 2016. The Outer Banks are paradise. I could also complain about the difficult politics of the northeastern portion of the state, the crazy things I saw there, or even the problems the Clinton Campaign had. On the whole, I probably had 30 or 35 good days out of the 42 days I worked there. I got to see my cousins, my aunt and uncle, and towns and places I never would have seen. It was overall a great moment in my life. The ending just sticks with me.
It’s always the ending that you remember most in anything. Trump’s victory speech has stuck with me for almost two years. Him walking onto the stage to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” one of my favorite songs of all time, was just a double f**k you, frankly (You know it’s a f**k you to the Stones for this.). Watching that unqualified ignoramus ramble, sounding as shocked as the rest of us, was appalling. I still remember the sobbing sounds in the hotel room, the honest fear I felt, and the moment I just burst out laughing as I watched. It enrages me yet.
Alas, I’m back in the Tar Heel State. In the wreckage of Hillary losing so close, Roy Cooper won for Governor that night, and the Republican lead legislature has been trying to strip him of his power ever since. I’m back in North Carolina, this time leading the charge in Charlotte, trying to help him get a more friendly legislature, and maybe help flip a major Congressional race here too. I’ve set a goal on this trip of getting across the border to South Carolina’s Gaffney while I’m down here too, to see the mythical home of “House of Cards” President Frank Underwood. It’s the little things, right?
One thing I will assure you of is that this is not going to be my last rodeo this time. If I think back on the times I turned down taking a job “inside the government,” or the times I planned to and came up agonizingly close (like 200 votes close, or losing because of the electoral college close), I’d go crazy now. That’s not happening this time. I’m here to do winning. Then I’m ready for one more bigly, huge rodeo in 2020 where we elect a real, truly great President. Once again, my career has purpose.
But for now, I’ll enjoy this great city, some Bojangles, and the opportunity for some sweet affirmation.