Thursday, November 10, 2016
I had been up all night watching election returns and as first light streaked the darkness, I turned off the television and began an internal monologue. My first thought was of old-school Irish wakes where liquor numbed the pain. Trouble was, I knew that no amount of spirits would counter the shock I'd felt earlier that evening. I needed a defibrillator, not a liquid stimulant, so despite the hour, I strapped on a miner's light, grabbed a can of pepper spray and headed to the river trail. I walked until the sun was high in the sky and my legs were as exhausted as my brain. I still could not sleep, but my mind had cleared.
I come from a family of political junkies. My father was raised in Detroit and his first jobs were with the UAW and the Railroad Retirement Board. He left Detroit, and for a period of time was a political operative in the wards of Chicago. He and my mother, a woman born too bright and forward thinking for her era, were New Deal democrats who believed our country had the means to improve the lives of all its citizens. Election night was a high holiday in our home, and because learned behavior is hard to put aside, I, to this day, carry on some of those early traditions. The big question then was always "Who won?" My dad kept a telephone tally of votes and the Chicago machine knew long before the newspapers who had carried the night. Since the televised results of the Kennedy/Nixon election, I do not go to bed until I can answer that question. Now we know.
I'm one of those people who talk with their dead. I've been keeping my mom up to date throughout this election and on the morning of the 8th I let her know it was in the bag. She'd listened to my lament when roars of "jail her" mirrored the "zeig heil" heard in the Reichstag of Nazi Germany. She, metaphorically anyway, held my hand when I described the terrible scar that was exposed when the scab covering festering bigotry, racism, xenophobia and misogyny was ripped from the underbelly of our country. And despite the hard work of men and women hoping to see history made, I had to recant and tell her I was wrong. There would be no transformational moment for women's leadership in the United States.
Autopsie are already underway. When they are completed the press will find no fault with its participation in this drama, and our chief law enforcement agency will sweep their interference in the electoral process under the rug. The lies and mendacity of politicians will continue and Congress will make sure the wealthy, rather than those in the Rust Belt, are taken care of. Campaign coffers will fill with a speed that would embarrass even King Midas, making Secretary Clinton's speaking revenues look like a weekly allowance. However, the group most responsible for this debacle is that portion of the body politic who did not exercise their franchise. They simply did not vote, allowing hot air to rush in and fill the vacuum, and they are about to get their just desserts.
My intent is not to trash our President Elect. He won and is entitled to a period of grace. The world is looking at us and our response to him. Let us handle it with as much dignity as we can muster, and while it will be hard, the office, if not the man, deserves our respect. When I saw those being considered for his Cabinet, the Rape of the Sabine Women rather than the Last Supper flashed before my eyes. My plan is to swallow hard and carry on the fight as best I can. We live in a constitutional democracy that demands our participation every single day, not just in election years.
Liberals need to identify young leaders who can inspire new voters and realistically advance the party without making promises for which there are no funds. The days of "promise them anything but give them Arpege" are over. Demographics are changing and we will have a non-white majority by 2043. I think it behooves liberals to make sure they find a home with us. My hope is that all Americans will hold political parties to the promises they make, and "throw the rascals out" when they do not deliver. Voters need to inform themselves. I'm still amazed that there are groups of people who vote against their own best interest. You should be able to articulate why you are opposed to a government program, and "John says" is not an acceptable argument. With this election women - yes women - have ceded the Supreme Court and their bodies to John. Next to go will be the right to die. You, no we, can stop the erosion of the common good, but it will take active participation on our part. Voting every 2 years is the place to begin, but the state of the nation demands more than that. We can't count on others to carry the water for the rest of us. Start by making yourself known to your representatives and holding them accountable, then join groups that have real political clout. Roll up your sleeves, volunteer and make your voice heard. A single voice can be powerful but voices heard in unison can change the world.