Do I dare write this post? Maybe. Am I typing on eggshells? Definitely. I’m a peace-loving, piano-playing poet. I had something silly planned for today’s post. But we have to talk about what’s happening.
In case you were unconscious last week, Republican Donald Trump won the presidential election. Democrat Hillary Clinton, who would have been the first woman president, won the popular vote but failed to win enough electoral college votes. In other words, Trump won more states. As the night progressed, I watched in disbelief as more and more states on the TV map turned red. At the end, the map showed most of the country Republican red while a few eastern states and all of the western states—California, Oregon and Washington—were blue.
Forget what you think about either candidate or their various scandals for a minute. Forget about sex and emails. Trump has never held any political office. Who wins the most important job in the land with no experience? How could that happen? But it did.
Before the election, many of us were sure that Clinton would win. We worried about how Trump’s followers would react. We worried about riots and assassination attempts. We figured if he won—well, we didn’t think he would win.
Two days after the election, I walked across the driveway to visit my neighbor, who recently broke his ankle and has been stuck in the house. He’s 74, a strong fireplug of a man who is used to being active, working as a mason, doing projects on his property, fishing and hunting. I know better than to talk politics with him, but as I sat on his couch surrounded by the stuffed heads of animals he has killed, he lit into Hillary Clinton. He talked about the crimes she has committed, about how she’s foul-mouthed and immoral, and how she won’t go to prison because President Obama will pardon her before he leaves office. Etc. I just kept petting his massive Labrador retriever Harley and muttering about how there are lots of rumors and it’s not all true.
My neighbor is a good man. He doesn’t swear or drink or cheat on his wife. He has helped me so many times over the years with Fred, with Annie, and with home repairs I couldn’t do by myself. He always tells me that if the big earthquake comes, I can stay with him and his wife. They are fully prepared for Armageddon. And I will. We’re alone together at the end of this forest road. We cannot be enemies. So I listened and let it go. I urged him to call me if he needed anything.
Meanwhile, a writer friend of mine in Wisconsin was attacked while walking her dogs down the street. A man walking toward her refused to give way. Instead, he kicked at her dog, kicked her and shoved her off the sidewalk, saying, “You need to get back in your place now, woman.” Police are still looking for him. He was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap. Her physical injuries were minor, but she’s traumatized and afraid this is the new order of things in Trump’s America.
The country’s going crazy. The riots I feared if Trump lost are happening anyway in Portland and many other cities. Some of them have turned violent.
I have seen reports of children bullying other children, white kids telling Mexican kids they’re going to be deported, other white kids beating up black or Muslim kids, “Make America white again” spray-painted on a high school baseball dugout,” middle school students chanting “Build the wall” (to keep Mexicans out), and more. Trump says, “Stop it!” but they’re not listening. Today someone hung a black doll on a college campus. Gays are afraid they will lose all the rights they fought so hard for. Read about the hate crimes here. It feels like all the civility that held people in check is gone.
Facebook friends are “unfriending” friends because of their political views. Two of my co-workers are not speaking to each other since the election. I don’t dare bring up the election at Thanksgiving next week.
I published a poem about Hillary Clinton on New Verse News last week, thrilled at the publication but nervous about how people would react. So far, nothing negative, but I no longer feel secure. And I think that’s true of many of us. With each news report, I grow more fearful for our country and the people I love. I swear not to watch anymore, to focus on my peaceful life with Annie here in the woods, but then I feel compelled to look, to see what else has happened. After all, I spent many years as a journalist, and this is one hell of a story.
This year, we had two flawed candidates in an election filled with scandals, rumors, and lies. Or was it all true? How can we know for sure? How many of us wished for different choices? How many of us stared at the TV screen on election night in utter disbelief, whether we were thinking, “Holy shit, we did it!” or “Dear God, it’s the end of the world?”
My father, who was born when Warren G. Harding was president, has seen a lot in his 94 years. He voted for Clinton and shakes his head at the idea of Trump as president, but he’s not rattled. He knows things will work out. Life will go on. He’ll still eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning, go to church on Sundays and buy groceries on Mondays.
All we can do is pray, believe that America is still a great country, and go on.
I am uneasy about posting this. I have seen in the past how people can react beyond all reason. If you feel moved to comment, know that I moderate all comments and will delete anything hateful. That said, how are you feeling this week? Will we ever be able to talk about this stuff?