I went to bed around 2:30 a.m. the morning after the presidential election, November 9, 2016. Although a part of me had anticipated the election of a racist, misogynistic, xenophobic internet troll as president of the United States of America, another part of me, that tiny, optimistic part of me, held out hope for another outcome. …
A zany holiday schedule (work not play) made it impossible for me to find the right words about this debacle, affirming community. I am not even sure that I have them now. We have all heard the blow-by-blows about how this came to pass, the many theories on how the election played out and how all the polling was off, but that still doesn’t make it easier to digest.
All I know is that fear and confusion surround me, buzzing in my ears like insects that just won’t quit. I can talk to you about the children around me: the American-born child of Irish immigrants who came home from school crying because he is afraid his best friend, who is American with Pakistani-born parents, will be sent home under this new administration. His friend went home crying, too, not understanding the complexities of the policies proposed by the new occupant of the White House starting today. He thinks he will have to return to his parents’ native land, too.
These children both understand, though, that the boy with the white freckled skin will get a pass that is not available for his brown-skin playmate. The race-coded language, the surging almost all-white crowds at the rallies of the soon-to-be resident of the White House (some of them brandishing confederate flags and/or wearing $14.99 make America great again hats) make that abundantly clear.
Another child, whose circle of family and friends includes Christians and Muslims, and immigrants that are Caribbean and Latino, awakened in a cold sweat at the thought of what this presidency might bring; his sense of safety and security rattled as the American history he is studying seems to merge with the present.
Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning to Future Generations by John Avalon brings context to George Washington’s 220-year-old farewell address, whose pithy warnings eerily resonate today. According to Avalon, Washington understood that “hyper-partisanship opens the doors for a demagogue.” Evidently the “founding fathers” in all their complexity (and hypocrisy) feared that the evil triumvirate of hyper-partisanship, excessive debt and foreign wars could bring down the republic. Things that make you go hmmm.
I am concerned that a president of the free world with no self-control, who is clearly not a student of history and is happy to pull the trigger on petty tweets before doing his homework will start the third and final world war. His advisors, and even favorite daughter with her carefully modulated voice, speak of him as if he is a drunk uncle at a family party who will have a pot of coffee and be ready for work on Monday. Today is Monday and uncle is still drunk.
Even before this last week of mini missives that offended two international allies, insulted a civil rights icon and mischaracterized his district as a den of squalor and inequity, I predicted that the world as we know it will be on the brink of something big (or should I say bigly) within 90 days of this new administration.
I will not watch the “peaceful transfer of power” today. I will spend the day taking care of myself and relaxing. Those of us with a vision of an inclusionary, fair and civil America will have a lot of work to do after today, so we better rest up and get ready.
May God help us, and may we help ourselves. …
Around 4:30 a.m. the day after the election, I bolted upright in my bed, turned on the TV and got the final election results. Pacing my dark apartment barefoot and frantic, I tried to figure out what to do, who to talk to. “Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, what just happened?” I texted the only person I knew who would be up at that hour. When her similarly pained response came back, my hands went up to my face involuntarily. It was wet.