I’m gazing at a gorgeously vibrant Sonoran desert landscape adjacent to my friend’s patio; the valley to the southeast below is a sea of city lights. Winds are gusting up to 20, 30 miles per hour. It’s election night. Seashell chimes dance and sing upon the winds’ insistence. The saguaro stands firm, the agave’s points don’t dull. But I feel dulled, I feel sad, then I feel terror. The electricity in the atmosphere, the aggressive movement of the air – how divided is this country? Can we unite in our fears? If both sides are so scared, did the terrorists win? Did 9/11 turn into this? Did the resultant series of events – one economic crisis followed by supposed economic growth (and its creation of the real estate bubble) then the subsequent Great Recession lead to what has now taken place? Honestly, I think it is more than that. Globalization, mechanization of industrial jobs and so much more. It is extremely complicated, there are many things to point to and at! With the results of this POTUS election, I am truly alarmed about the direction of politics in the United States.
Those were my thoughts last night as we watched the returns clearly showing that our candidate was not going to get it. I didn’t sleep through the night and today I am exhausted, and in mourning.
I’m trying to sort through this thick morass of emotions. The fear is pretty overwhelming, but the path of fear is not the way. That said, I will let my fear talk so I can move beyond it.
I am afraid of the hate that Trump’s campaign has captured.
I am afraid of the violence that followed in Trump’s wake at rallies.
I am afraid of what Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric might mean for my family, my friends and me – individuals who are people of color, Muslims, LGBTQIA, women, Mexicans, immigrants… educated people who care about the environment and believe in an egalitarian society.
I am afraid of the “normalization” of sexism, racism, ableism, violence and hate.
I am afraid of what his lack of political experience will mean for anything positive getting done.
I am afraid of him representing this country to the rest of the world, and I am certainly afraid of an international incident.
I am afraid of nuclear detonations.
I am afraid of the disappearance of hard-fought for civil rights.
I am afraid of the erosion of a decent, civilized society.
Today, I mourn. Today, I process my feelings and my fears and I write it out and I talk to people and I become engaged in what it will mean when, tomorrow, it will be time to put on my boots and think about the positive change we can make in our community and in our region and our country.
Looking at the Arizona returns, it is clear that my neighbors in Pima County are progressives; we’re a blue raft in a sea of red. That’s okay. We’ve also got blue coming in from CA and NM, and spilling down from Northern Arizona.
It’s cool that my town is progressive, but how do we reach the people that voted Trump into office? A rich white man who doesn’t seem to know how the three branches of government work. Who has only known privilege, decadence and aggression. Who has – I believe – at worst lied, at best, misrepresented to his voters that he can actually get their industrial jobs back, or build that wall, or eliminate ISIS.
I’ll admit, Trump’s acceptance speech has a changed tone to it. He is calm and almost quiet as he makes promises to be the President for all Americans, and work to unite us. He says he is going to renew the “American Dream” where “every single person will be able to realize his or her fullest potential,” and that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
“We will deal fairly with all people,” Trump said, in “partnership, not in conflict.” We shall see. I really can’t help but be dubious, considering the way his campaign was conducted.
As I listened to Hillary’s concession speech and Obama’s speech, they both mention a peaceful transfer of power, and a country guided by rule of law. I hope so. I keep thinking – our Constitution is solid, right? It can’t let a dictator stay in power, can it? There are enough good people in governmental positions that would stop the United States from turning into Nazi Germany, yes?
As I listened to Trump’s speech today and his “promises to rebuild this country by rebuilding infrastructure,” I certainly hope that happens. Shouldn’t everyone agree that we need those things? What can’t happen is for the country to reverse on the advances of civil rights. We have to protect social services. We have to be even more engaged with our democracy. We have to be involved with our city, county, state and national representatives. We need to keep an eye on the journalists reporting and hope they are keeping an eye on the politicians politicking. It’s time to be even more vigilant and pro-active.
It takes time, it takes research, it takes reading and it takes action. Things that can be hard to schedule into our daily lives of work, school, home, family, friends. I’m going start working on scheduling in time to read the things that can help me be knowledgeable of what is happening locally and nationally and take action. Not easy, and I won’t be perfect, but it is necessary and I will try harder.
And, at the end of any and all of this – as author Tom Robbins once said – “Human folly does not impede the turning of the stars.” We have to keep on keeping on, keep on spreading the light and love.
And, hey, she won the popular vote.