On Nov. 6, 2016, I boarded a flight from Lima, Peru to Bogotá, Colombia, slept fitfully through an overnight layover, boarded another plane to Washington, D.C., and from there, finally, flew to my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. A few weeks earlier, K. and I had packed up all the things we’d accumulated in a year working as freelance journalists in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during a time of enormous upheaval. K. had been coming to Brazil since 2012; we’d met in Rio, in 2013, introduced by a mutual friend while I was living in São Paulo. Within an hour or two of meeting, we were dodging tear gas canisters in what were, at the time, some of the largest protests in Brazil’s history.
When we returned, three years later, the protests had only grown, but now, they were marked by a bitterness, anger that we hadn’t seen before. In June, 2016, I walked down Copacabana Beach and met a group of middle-aged men in blue military fatigues sitting in a Humvee, celebrating the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff and proudly calling for a return to the 1964 military dictatorship. I grimaced in much the same way I had when we had watched Donald Trump walk onto the RNC floor, Hollywood gangster-style, near the end of Ted Cruz’s debate-nerd “vote your conscience” speech.
As the months wore on, these political crises seemed to blur and intertwine, though they resisted easy parallels. Though I was fairly certain that Clinton would win the election, I’d seen what a committed opposition could do to undermine the electoral process, if armed with a politicized judiciary and a weakened opponent. None of it boded well and so the election, on Nov. 8, turned into a firm deadline for my return to the States. I stopped over in Peru to see family before heading back north.
My overwhelming feeling, when I woke up in my childhood bed on election day, was one of relief—no matter the news, a few months earlier, that the Clinton campaign had all but given up on Ohio. (“Because of newer battleground states, Mrs. Clinton can amass the 270 electoral votes required to win even if she loses Ohio.”) I walked up Schantz Hill in the leafy pre-war suburb where I grew up, passing a “Hillary for Prison” lawn sign along the way, and cast my vote in light spirits.
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Lucas Iberico Lozada