Director James Kicklighter's Flagstaff, AZ hotel en route to work on Hillary Clinton's campaign, August 2016
Director James Kicklighter's Flagstaff, AZ hotel en route to work on Hillary Clinton's campaign, August 2016

The staggering beauty of failure reveals the weight of our intentions.

Opting out of all public events, my intern and I chose to watch the election results in quiet on CNN with our own bottles of wine on my couch in Alexandria as I concluded my filmmaking work for Hillary Clinton's campaign.

We intended to celebrate. Exhausted after working 7-day weeks and 12-16 hour days, we were proud of the work we had done and the candidate whose platform we had supported.

Hillary Clinton 2016 refrigerator magnet
Hillary Clinton 2016 refrigerator magnet

In general, it had been a difficult burden to break through the media narrative with concrete information about policies week after week that were going to impact people’s lives.

For example, we would have themed days that would target our messaging towards women’s rights or military families. We were fighting a candidate who had five bullet points to explain policies; we had fifty pages that laid out plans and details.

But more often than not, our opponent would say, do or tweet something inappropriate. He would say something that crossed the boundaries of decency. Over time, false equivalencies made our mistakes and his equal. 

And they were never equal. because a generic Republican is not endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

Listening to Anderson Cooper, while pouring over data on my iPad, I will never forget the moment that my New York Times app, which had a live needle that revealed the probability of the outcome, started twitching towards Donald J. Trump. 

I’ll never forget the feeling in my gut when it became a ninety-nine percent probability.

Then, my bottle of Cabernet long gone, my intern and I sat shell-shocked and drunk as hell at 3:30 in the morning, listening to our president-elect as he took the stage.

I kept thinking about the families I met, the people we were fighting to protect.

Jimmy Ochan, who fled his country torn by civil war to become an American soldier, only to pay a price for freedom in an IED blast abroad.

Elijah Coles-Brown, a 12-year-old who has grown up in a world where a black man can be president, who can’t imagine a world where anyone, regardless of their race, sex or sexual orientation, would find their chance to succeed impeded.

Content board at Hillary for America office after failure
Content board at Hillary for America office

I thought of the public surrogates who had such personal reasons for getting involved in the campaign. Sean Astin, who felt that he had to carry forward the mission of his recently deceased mother.

Lena Dunham, who often thinks of the generations of women in her family who instilled that passion in her to push forward women’s rights. 

I considered the irreparable harm that our country would have on the global stage, something I believe that many people have yet to recognize.

I wept for the potential policies that would impact my friends, from immigrants to a woman’s right to choose. 

I despaired as I thought of my wedding in January, a right only given by the Supreme Court not even two years ago, as I evaluated the bigotry of Mike Pence and all that champion “religious freedom.”

I didn’t sleep that night.

Various staffer thoughts at the Hillary for Virginia office after failure
Various staffer thoughts at the Hillary for Virginia office

The days that followed were a blur, Hillary’s concession, tears from staffers, silent conference calls and the like.

Yet in the days that have followed, I have heard so many incredulous voices, people who couldn’t have imagined that this could happen.

People who voted for other candidates, People who chose not to get involved.

Yet through our failure, and a qualified failure because our candidate decisively won the popular vote, the weight of our intentions has been shifted.

Our burden is now shared by those who wish they had done more, through those who thought that democracy would fall on the right side of history.

There is something beautiful in failure, the passion that has been reignited amongst the complacent...

...those who have forgotten that history does not always bend towards the arc of justice on the daily. In those times, history tells us that the moral must stand up and fight when freedom is threatened.

We still are stronger together, and so together, our voices must be heard.