I wrote this nearly 4 years ago [November 10, 2016]. I think it was prescient…or somewhat aware. So much has changed.
I was talking to a friend yesterday and she said “you seem in good spirits” and I was. I had two hours sleep the night before and gnashing of my liberal teeth, tears reading my friend’s posts on FB and Twitter, and a curling up or two into a fetal position. I was determined to assess what this gigantic change meant and what my response was to it. Also, what do I tell my friends, especially those with young children whose lives over the next decades will be affected by this?
The word that kept reverberating in my mind was “opportunity.” I know, the idea of Donald Trump replacing Barrack Obama as our leader is, for want of a better phrase, a total mind fuck, but in the end it is what it is. Our electoral system found a coalition of angry white rural and suburbanites who hated Hillary Clinton – often irrationally – and people who are just ignorant enough to hear some of Trump’s rhetoric and think that he would represent us well on a world stage (never mind that it wouldn’t even serve you well in a bar fight). Add to that the people who saw Trump as an alternative to Bernie Sanders (this I will never understand) and the electoral college has sealed our fate.
Trump will be Trump. My disrespect for him stops at the door of his Barnum quality of knowing a sucker when he sees one and the GOP elected officials are often the perfect mark. He knows what they desire most so he will throw the red meat of abortion politics to the social conservatives who have blindly followed this path for years. He will engineer some sort of dismantling of Obamacare for the Republican sheep who have seen it as the great evil for these last 8 years (though he knows that he can’t just deny 20 million people healthcare so I wait patiently to see where that fix comes in). Police will get their “respect” and some token parting gifts. And that wall…yes, it will turn in to the metaphor for our irrational fears that it always has been and we will carry on.
It is not a pretty picture. There will be changes and, honestly, like I always say, we get the government we deserve. I’m not saying you all don’t do things like work the elections or hit a city council meeting, but my view is that we are Facebook Liberals. Example, this post, my outrage about this election and final clear vision, is certainly a way for me to feel better. Often we post/re-post/tweet and repeat about something and that is it. We feel better, we got the word out – Yay. But right now, our beliefs have been kicked from the top of the mountain with a spectacular view to the valley with a view of the sewage plant. And it is going to suck because we are going to watch a lot of things get mangled that we all believe in. Worse (and this is the part that eats at me) we have to hope that Donald Trump is really a better person than we think he is. We have to hope that he realizes that the magnanimous things he often would never previously consider are things that might make the name Trump on a par with Reagan (that’s like being on par in greatness at torturing small animals but I digress). We can hope, but hoping that someone like the president-elect will do good is often a fool’s errand.
So, OPPORTUNITY – that word that keeps echoing through my mind and the thing that at least makes me feel less than horrible. I see this election in big the big view as a blip on our timeline that will remind us of what we want and what we need to bring that into life. These things – civil rights, reproductive rights, dignity, freedom to practice or not practice religion, empathy and care for all people – they are not givens, they are not things that exist easily even though many of us feel they should be and have worked in some way shape or form to help them along. They are like a particularly complex vine or tree that you need to care for, every day, and you need to pay attention to. This is an opportunity for us to reengage and live our beliefs. I watched the anti-Trump riots last night and it made me feel good in some ways, but they are there in the moment – what happens tomorrow? When Bernie was on fire and people were fully engaged I wrote about how it is a beautiful movement, but those people (and those people include me) would need to step up in a big way if he was elected. There was no way that what the great Senator from Vermont was proposing would ever make it through the grinder that is our government. We would need to make that happen, daily, with letters, with phone calls, with volunteering, taxes, sacrifice and more. All too often we tend to vote, get someone elected, and then expect it to happen. It doesn’t (hello single payer healthcare, world peace, racial and sexual equality…). Believe me, I’m not knocking anyone who might have gotten this far in this screed. I have some of the best, most heartfelt and smart “friends” on this thing (hence the crying reading your thoughts yesterday). I’m just saying that we have been put in a position where we are going to need to engage more often, maybe every day, to make our world better and at least somewhat whole again. We might have to step up in ways that are more than just sending an angry letter or standing in a crowd on a chilly night. I am thinking about my options and how I can help, how I can be a voice for the change I believe in in my heart. November 8, 2016 will hopefully make me a better, more involved person. That is an opportunity and that is why I am positive and smiling (at least on the outside).
[One note, I did not bring up Mr. Pence here, but he, unlike Trump, is a politician whose voting record and political “accomplishments” run fully against most of what is American and, in my humble opinion, what it means to be an empathetic human being.]