November 9, 2017
Hard to believe that just a year ago, we were in shocked mourning over Clinton’s defeat…disbelieving that he had actually been elected. How could it be? How did it happen? How could it be true or real?
There was no rational reason for this outcome and its consequences. Dashed were our hopes and dreams, our sure knowledge that we were making progress, that despite many glitches and failures we were moving in the right direction. Eight years earlier we elected a black president, who, while not perfect, served with distinction: no hint of scandal, a moral man. Surely, now the country was ready to elect its first woman president—perhaps less than perfect—yet smart, eminently qualified, prepared in every way to lead.
Then all of that, taken away by a buffoon in a baseball cap emblazoned with his message—Make America Great Again. The shock and awe—the dread and trepidation—the complete lack of comprehension of the how and why of this outcome filled our days. We wallowed in the news and in the facts. Did it matter that a majority of the voters didn’t elect him? That the voters in the right places—where their electoral votes counted—elected him. We tried to understand who had voted for him and why…struggled to know why our progress was their lost ground…sought to comprehend their hatred and disdain…strived to appreciate their right to elect a fool.
Over that first year, we raged at the injustice and incompetence, but we came together—we rallied for women, for science, against racism and white supremacy. We learned more about “these people” – his base. We were told that they are the disenfranchised who believe they’ve been left behind, who feel that “black lives matter” means that their lives don’t matter, who believe that someone who knows nothing about government would manage it well, who think that a businessman could negotiate his way out of any and all of America’s problems. We lived in fear of the mind under the baseball cap, its message and coded meaning. For the first time in decades, we felt a genuine and terrifying threat of war—even nuclear war. We found ourselves uncharacteristically thinking that surely the generals who surround him will keep us from ultimate destruction.
We watched a man with no grace or empathy degrade individuals, a man with little knowledge and limited vocabulary make policy via tweets and rambling incoherent statements and speeches. We observed his handlers’ efforts to control him and to make him appear to be “presidential”. We saw his Republican colleagues in Congress attempt to understand him, use him, fear him and work with him. We witnessed this man and his minions undermine and perhaps permanently damage the independent press—the fourth estate tottering due to his ability to stay ahead of the news cycle and to convince his base that it is all “fake news”. Every day we viewed an alternate universe where respect and civility were disdained and bullying heralded.
We began to understand that the man in the messaged headgear talks through his hat. We found that he doesn’t understand the role of the judiciary (or Congress for that matter). The litany is long and grows. We see him disregard and often demean his appointees and their departments—disrespect the intelligence community, the environment, refugees, people of color and other countries—hold grudges against all who oppose him and sometimes against those who support him. We begin to think that he must not understand, or understands too well, the charges against him regarding collusion with Russia and the role of the special prosecutor. We see him chafe and churn at his lack of power. We watch and wait for the results.
We carry on, love our families and friends, do our business, and seek to live our everyday lives, to be normal. But the truth is we haven’t rediscovered our true compass. Life is not normal…there is an underlying uncertainty, even despair that lingers in our unconscious, that affects our day to day. It surfaces often, sometimes hourly…each time there is an egregious statement or action. We fear what the man in the baseball cap is doing and the dread doesn’t go away. We lash out, we read the news, the analysis, we discuss incessantly. We rejoice in his failure because it means progress, that others may see what he is doing—not making America great but destroying America.
And then, a glimmer—an election in Virginia that gives hope. Not only was the Democrat candidate elected Governor but perhaps, more importantly, there are significant gains in Democrat wins in the state legislature for the first time in decades. Surely, this is a rejection of the man in the baseball cap and his false message at the grassroots level.
December 12, 2017
Another glimmer—Roy Moore, a right-wing Republican, accused of sexual harassment and of pedophilia, supported by the man in the baseball cap loses the Senate race in Alabama. Defeated by a long-shot Democrat it is another (unacknowledged) loss for the man in the hat.
We continue; we find solace in small victories.