How I Intend to Survive This — And You Can Too.
One of the perils of being politically plugged-in is the personal price exacted for having that kind of knowledge constantly swirling around in one’s head, even while asleep.
A few months ago, a sense of foreboding over the fascist specter of Trump began to settle in on my spirit. Although I was still producing essays on politics and public policy, it became increasingly difficult to hit “publish.” Writing about municipal finance, fiscal and social policies, legislation, and campaign shenanigans seemed unimportant in the face of our looming national crisis.
Aficionados of the television show The West Wing may recall the episode in which press secretary C.J. Cregg upbraids her coworkers for obsessing on the minutia while they were teetering on the precipice of utter catastrophe — likening it to Butch and Sundance “peering over the edge of a cliff to the boulder-filled rapids below, thinking you better not jump because you might drown.” Cregg said:
“It’s the fall that’s gonna kill you.”
That’s the fear that had slithered its way into the very core of my being — it weighed like a cold, heavy stone on my chest. The electorate was falling for a sociopath, and nothing I said or wrote about was going to change that. Who cares about what PAC spent money on whatever issue, or whichever lawmaker was fighting the scourge or virtue of this public policy or that? If a fascist was about to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — none of it mattered anymore.
The cold stone grew heavier. I was having palpitations.
Two weeks ago, I went to a walk-in clinic with a headache and over-sized heartbeats. My typically normal blood pressure (120/75) was now at 150/96. They sent me straight to the emergency room. Upon arrival I clocked-in at 199/106.
A visit to the special cardiac section of the ER involves many intense-looking people wielding numerous needles, vials, and enough monitors that the patient looks like they’ve just lost a desperate struggle with a tangle of Christmas tree lights.
It’s called a “hypertensive crisis.” Try not to have one. They are often associated with heart attacks and strokes. Mine though, seems to have been associated with the Republican’s toxic nominee.
So, now my worst fear has proven all too real. I was among the 60 million progressive American voters who were shoved over that cliff on Nov. 8, 2016.
But, we didn’t die on the rocks below.
We are hurting badly, yet we will survive to fix this.
I saw a good many of my fellow walking-wounded yesterday. They were at the bank, the restaurant where I had lunch, but the most shell-shocked among them were those middle-aged white women, like myself, that I encountered in the aisles of T.J.Maxx. (Okay, it’s a weird indulgence of mine — I go there often, really to just wander about looking at random and mindless things, particularly when I need to think. The 20-minute drive to-and-from is also spent reflecting — frequently about the politics of the day.) The home-dec section was bustling with dozens of women picking-up objects, considering them, and putting them back. Their carts were empty — just props to lean on in their confusion and despair. They, like me, were desperately grasping for an elusive sense of normalcy.
I did make a purchase. It’s a ceramic star-shaped knick knack — for me, a talisman intended to heal my broken spirit.
At the check-out, I was assisted by a kind man in his early twenties. He inquired of my plans for the sunny day. I replied that was the only good thing about the day — the sunshine, and he hinted with raised brow “Some retail therapy?” Yes.
Also on my daily rounds, I found myself more intensely scrutinizing those individuals who looked suspiciously like Trump voters. No, that’s not mean-spirited to imply someone might possess telltale signs of appearing to be of a particular political persuasion. In the past, while canvassing door-to-door, we used to play a game: Democrat or Republican? Beside the obvious signs like bumper stickers and flags, we’d look for other subtle tells — silk flower wreaths with kitschy placards = Republican, unchecked dandelions and uncoiled garden hoses = Democrat. We had a list that usefully proved accurate once the homeowner opened the door and expressed how they intended to vote.
I contemplated the older gentleman at the table across from mine at lunch — he was a toss-up, until he slung a backpack over his shoulder when he departed.
Surely, I’m not alone in casting an eye of suspicion at fellow citizens, as if in some sci-fi movie, trying to determine if they’re one of us, or the embodiment of evil in human flesh. Okay, with few exceptions, they are not truly sinister, but their poor judgment will assuredly visit a certain hell on this fine nation. And I blame them.
As for those third-party voters — sure, they fucked-up. But only millennials get a pass on this one. They’re entitled to a learning curve, and they will certainly do just that — the hard way. I am confident they will rise-up and make this a better nation just as every last stupid, angry old white male turns toes-up over the next decade.
However, for those Stein/Johnson voters in their middle years — they knowingly enabled the potential destruction of our country over their precious “conscience.” As it turns out, their vote really was one for Trump. Shame on them.
We survived the fall — now it’s time to swim.
Me, I have an important piece to finish writing (and publish) on the looming municipal fiscal debt crisis in Michigan.
Update: I offer this article to the gentleman who is plaguing my comment box, and violating my no ad hominem attack rule.