I vote a week early. I get tears in my eyes as I black the little oval next to Hillary's name. On election night I am excited, set up my computer to watch the numbers roll in. But they’re rolling the wrong way. Hope eroding with the numbers, I go to bed at 10:30. Maybe I’ll wake up to good news in the morning.
I wake at 12:30. It looks worse. At 1:15 I go to Facebook; I have to say something, anything. Judging by the response, many of my Facebook "friends" are awake. I stay up until 4.
Before she went to bed I had told Amanda, “Don’t worry about it honey. She’s going to win.” When she wakes up in the morning I have to tell her. In the car I try to acknowledge our outrage while warding off despair. “Why do you have to talk about it. You know I’m mad; leave me alone.”
For a couple of days it doesn’t seem real. I shake my head as if to clear the bad dream. Then for a little while I think - maybe the president won’t be as awful as the candidate. After all, he has no firm opinions. But I know he is a racist, a misogynist, hateful, impulsive, still a two-year-old at 70. I fear his ignorance, his incompetence, his willingness to exploit what is worst in us to win.
I try to avoid information, but the New York Times and Facebook keep drawing me in. I see in the Times the committee that will manage the transition - I recognize Steve Bannon from Breitbart News, and Pam Bondi, the Florida Attorney General who received $25,000 from the Trump Foundation and then did not investigate fraud allegations against Trump University - and realize things may be as bad as I fear.
Bondi and friend image:NYTimes.com
A few weeks before the election I had started writing about Michelle Obama’s New Hampshire speech - the one about Trump boasting of assaults on women - trying to understand my response to it. On Friday - has it only been three days? - I watch it again on YouTube, download the transcript. And now the crying begins, on and off for two days, until it feels like this new reality has loomed forever.
I’ve long thought that it’s past time for the American Century, the American Empire, to be over. Maybe this is just a marker on that road. But the crumbling won’t be painless, and most of the rubble will fall on the poorest, the least powerful.
I watch David Chappell, Steven Colbert, Seth Meyers, Whoopie Goldberg. I cry. I have to do something. What can I do?
Wednesday is the HOME Van food pantry at Arupa’s house. I hand out medicines, tents, sundries. To my surprise - usually the political views I hear there are right wing - most of the talk in the long line is dismayed, or outraged. I go to the annual celebration at Grace Marketplace, our two year old homeless services campus, knowing I’ll see familiar faces. I go to collect hugs. I get plenty. I ask a friend about the mayor’s book circle - first they read Ta Nahisi Coates, now they’re going to read Ibram Kendi. I'm going to read it. Good old progressive, prosperous, white me, I want to learn more, I want to connect.
From my car I wave and smile in the rural southern way at pedestrians, especially non-whites. I wish I had a Clinton bumper sticker. We go for an evening walk and pass the home of the two gallumphing Great Danes. In their yard is a Trump sign. I call to the neighbor. “I love your dogs. But they’re not big enough!” - and she laughs. We walk on and I mutter to Joe, “But I hate your sign.”
Everything makes me think of the election. Sunday afternoon we go to the new Depot Park to hear some reggae - it’s been open a couple of months but this is our first time. It was built on a brownfield full of contaminated soil and water, which was treated and removed. How much its recent opening influenced the latest eviction of nearby homeless camps, I can't say. In Gainesville we have big camp evictions every few years, with no provision for the campers to go anywhere else, no regard for the functioning community they have created. The people scatter and find new sites.
Despite my misgivings, the park is as wonderful as I’ve heard - still new and raw, but when the trees grow up it will be glorious. Plenty of seating - rocks, benches, concrete risers - and curved walking paths. In the center is the playground, full of delights. Fossils planted in the sandbox. Little digging machines that kids can sit on, the sand shovel controlled by the pedals and handlebars. A wet area where water spurts from the ground, slides down a wall, sprays out from moveable metal tubing. This is Florida, mid-November; we can still play in the water.
Joe and I sit by the sandbox and watch the children, parents, grandparents. It’s like an advertisement for multicultural diversity. Asian faces, faces framed by hijabs, children black and brown and white, talking English and Spanish, and is that Chinese? A 7-year-old blonde girl makes sand angels. A 2-year-old brown boy with glistening black curls stamps his feet in the water. I nod and smile at everyone I pass. This is not Trumpworld, this is America.
image:sandia national laboratory
Light a candle and curse the darkness - it’s been my motto for many years. What can I do? There is a Progressive Women’s Meeting Sunday afternoon, but meetings?... Oh God, I can’t anymore. A Million Woman March January 21. Possibly. The last big demonstration I went to in DC was for abortion rights. I remember the exhilaration -seeing clusters of women in Atlanta at the gate for the DC flight, masses of women on the DC subway. But I was 45 then - I could stand for hours and hours. And I hate crowds.
The news keeps getting worse; Bannon will be chief advisor. What can I do? What can I do?
It’s been a week. At 3AM Tuesday morning I see two posts on Facebook:
Amanda Debour Bartlett asks people to protest to Congress about the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump’s senior advisor, followed by much discussion regarding Congress’ lack of power in this matter. I think, and say, that if we protest as often as we can on the truly horrible decisions (and with Bannon in charge there will be many of them) Congress may believe it has to resist the executive when possible. I share the user-friendly Common Cause website to “find your representative.” click I resolve to keep addresses and stamped envelopes by my writing chair, and dash off notes whenever I feel the outrage.
“...Join me in showing love and respect to others. Find your way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love. Because today, sadly, hate is gaining ground.” (Mara Carrizo Scalise on Instagram, posted on FB by Karen Epple, shared by Arupa, and comically mocked by her husband) I vow to work hard on kindness, friendliness, civility. To wear the safety pin. click
Is it all silly? I don’t know. Will it help? Probably not. Maybe only to assuage my feelings, to save my own soul. I am still crying.
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