I’m not evil.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. Actually, I’m not sure if “tired” quite cuts it.
As I sit here, with tears threatening me from behind my eyes…. I’m exhausted.

I’d say it’s been a long week, but that would be a lie. It’s been a long election cycle… It’s been a long almost two years. If you would have told me back when the first GOP candidates were announcing their races that I would be sitting here – three days post-Republicans taking control of the House, Senate, and Presidency – this drained, lost, and in all honesty pretty hurt? I would have laughed at you.

“How could that be?” I would have asked, “We have a field full of the best, most qualified, strongest Republican candidates that we as a party could have asked for.” Little did I know how short-lived it would be. I was devastated the day my first choice candidate, Scott Walker, dropped out of the race. I just knew he would have made an absolutely incredible RNC Nominee and President. But, it didn’t take too long to find solace in the contenders still waging fiercely in the fight for the nomination. We still had so many incredible choices.

Then… One by one they started dropping out. I watched the mainstream media tear them limb from limb, the worst of the attacks sticking out in my mind being the hosts of The View attacking Carly Fiorina’s looks and comparing her to a Halloween mask (now that’s some real feminism right there, ya’ll). By the time I voted in my home state of Pennsylvania’s primary, it was down to two candidates. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – the “Zodiac Killer” and “Is this a joke?”. I cast my absentee ballot for Ted Cruz, and I honestly never expected that I would be casting my vote for someone else as my party’s candidate six months later.

I’ll be the first to admit that I struggled to accept that Donald Trump had become the face of my party as I watched him accept the nomination. I was hesitant to hop onto the Trump Train, and to place my confidence in the man who had a plan to Make America Great Again. But, I opened my mind and I listened. I listened to his plans and I read about his policies. I did my best to seek full speeches, and to look deeper than the sound bites touted by the mainstream media. But most of all, I took heed of why my fellow Republicans believed so deeply in this man.

Where I saw a bit of a blowhard and loudmouth – my fellow Americans saw hope. They saw a man who was willing to say what was on his mind, a man who would shake up Washington, a man willing to fight for the silent majority. I had just come around to accepting him, maybe even almost believing in him a little bit myself, when the tapes came out with the things he said fifteen years ago. I lost hope again. How could I vote for a man who could say these things about women, about homosexuals, about Muslims, about people who are just different from me?

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. But as the daughter of a man who runs a small business, it wasn’t an easy thought knowing that if we continued down the road we were on? There was a scarily real chance that that business wouldn’t last another Clinton presidency. It wasn’t an easy thought knowing that my insurance premiums are projected to increase by 53% next year – on top of how much they have already increased. It wasn’t easy hearing the stress and fear and uncertainty of the future in my parents’ voices, even if they never would have voiced those concerns to me. But is it ever easy to make a decision that will shape your entire future?

So for those reasons, among many others, I did it.
I went to my polling place the Friday before Election Day – and I cast my vote for Donald Trump.

Suddenly, I am a racist. A xenophobe. A homophobe. A bigot. An Islamophobe. A misogynist. I should kill myself. I should have been aborted. I am the downfall of my gender, of society, of America as we know it. The people from where I was born and raised are “uneducated” simply because they don’t have a degree hanging on the wall (and as the first college graduate in my family – that one hits me hard.) According to the New York Times, I “pawned my humanity for the safety of white supremacy.” People I have known for years promptly believe that they no longer know who I am – that they want nothing to do with me, that they hate me.
And that breaks my heart.

I don’t hold hate in my heart for any person who voted differently than I did.
You voted to save your family, and I voted to save mine. And that’s okay.

The name I pressed on the ballot screen doesn’t dictate me to stop fighting for those who are of different genders, sexual orientations, races, ethnicities, religions, physical/mental limitations, socioeconomic status from me. It didn’t change who I am. It doesn’t mean I am a racist, or a homophobe, or a xenophobe, or whatever other accusations have been hurled my way. It doesn’t mean I don’t still respect and love you for exactly who you are down to your core.

The name I pressed on the ballot said that, I too, was afraid for the people I love. For that very reason, I respect your fears and reservations about the next four years. I understand that this is a tumultuous time in American politics, and that you’re afraid. And that’s okay. For that very reason, I’ll spend my days working my ass off to make sure the GOP I stand behind reflects the party and values I hold near and dear – and to protect the rights of ALL Americans, not just those who agree and look/love/worship the way that I do.

If you can’t understand or accept my outstretched hand, or my open heart, simply because we disagreed at the ballot box? If you still feel the need to spew hateful words toward me, threaten my life, tell me I deserve to die, disregard the years I’ve spent proving the kind of person I am? I am truly, genuinely, and deeply sorry. I will be praying for your peace in the days to come. I will pray for you to come to know, and understand, why I made the choice I did.

But for those of you who can (or are just simply willing to try)?
Know that I am here to talk to to help you understand where I’m coming from, to find middle ground with, to move forward beside, to pray and work toward a better tomorrow together.

I’m not an evil person.
I’m just a girl who trusts in God, loves my family, and believes in the future of America.