A paranoid Canadian in Donald Trump’s America


Columbus, Ohio – I’m hung over and sick but I am not sure if this is a description of my physical or emotional state after Donald Trump’s election win Tuesday, November 8. 

I watched the election results at a local hipster bar with a dozen or so graduate students. The mood was upbeat as we started the night. I thought pretty soon we would all be celebrating the election of the first woman president of the United States, and bonding over the nightmare of Donald Trump’s candidacy finally being behind us.

I am only suppose to drink moderately on my meds and I had a cold and a lot of homework to do the next day, but when Florida is called for Trump, someone orders a round of shots and I don’t refuse. When North Carolina is called for Trump, I order a tall can of the cheapest beer I can find on the drinks menu. I know I will feel like hell the next day but at that moment it was hard to care about tomorrow.

We clutched our drinks and obsessively checked our smart phones, switching from one election prediction website to the another searching for a better forecast – like surfing for an alternate reality after the cancer webMD has suggested is your diagnosis for that mysterious orange splotch. 

Since I am a duel American and Canadian citizen, everyone wants to know when we can get married. They are joking and not joking. My girlfriend in Toronto calls to say Citizen and Immigration Canada’s website has crashed, presumably from too many Americans looking for information on how to flee the country.

Speaking with her, I realize that I’ve let my Canadian passport expire and am not sure I currently have all the documents I would need to prove I’m Canadian and get back into the country. I need to get on that.

I don’t know right now if I should remain in school here, where I am enrolled in a prestigious and fully-funded program. It seems crazy to give that up. But everything is crazy now.

I guess it’s not correct to say something is “crazy,” even for someone like me who struggles with mental health issues. But wasn’t the vote for Trump partly a referendum on decency? And didn’t indecency win? Can someone calling me a crazy kike now be considered within the bounds of social norms? Wouldn’t that be the patriotic thing to do?

Relatives of mine who are in their early 70s spent the weekend prior to Tuesday’s vote  knocking on doors in Florida for the Clinton campaign. They ended up being threatened and chased by a Trump supporter. They told me they were only knocking on doors in predominantly Black neighborhoods, where they thought it would be safe. This to me sums up the terrifying irony of this election. Trump won, I think (I’m not sure because I am in too much shock to trust anyone’s analysis anymore) out of a fear of The Other. And now I’m afraid of a different other: these scary white people, most of them men, but not entirely.

In Ohio, Hillary wasn’t even close. Virtually, it seems, every white man in Ohio (though Franklin County, where I live, went Democratic Party blue) voted for Trump. When I stumble to class the morning after, bereaved and in a daze, I see some white dudes and wonder who they voted for. All these friendly, but scapegoating mid-western folks, scare the crap out of me now.

It seems paranoid to think something very bad (being very selfish here for a moment) can happen to me since I’m a white guy, too. But I’m also a Jew. First they came for the Mexicans, then they came for the Muslims… Sooner or later, they may come for me. Is there such a thing as being too paranoid, now?

Jacob Scheier is a Governor General’s award winning poet and Masters candidate in creative non-fiction at Ohio State University. 

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