Stage One: Denial
A trend is developing in the Tuesday night returns. I get uncomfortable. “Let’s turn it off, come back in an hour. It’ll be different then.”
An hour later: “Let’s go to bed, wake up and it’ll be O.K.”
Three a.m.: “No, no, no, no! This is NOT happening. It isn’t true.”
Stage Two: Anger
Dear God, please damn to hell the following:
The miserable Americans who voted for him, those who voted for third party candidates, and most especially, please damn to hell those who did not vote at all. Those who spread lies about Hillary, those who believed them, those who were too lazy to do their own fact-finding. The media who gleefully joined the Trump circus. And most of all, this lying misogynist we just elected. Give him his own special circle in Dante’s Inferno.
Stage Three: Bargaining
Maybe when he realizes he lost the popular vote and needs to represent all of us, maybe he’ll suddenly, miraculously change into, you know, someone he’s not, a person who isn’t racist or despotic or mainly interested in how much money he can scam out of the government…or maybe the election WAS rigged and they’ll uncover it and Hillary really did win…or maybe he’ll have a heart attack—lord, no—then we’d get Pence. What if he decided to go with Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court? How about if I didn’t fall off my diet? Would that make a difference?
Stage Four: Depression
What’s the use? Calm and professional, Hillary reminds us in her concession speech that you win some and lose some, but good things will always be worth fighting for. I’m fine until the camera pans to a group of young Hispanic students with tears coursing down their cheeks. I lose it, manage to stop crying, then see the photo of Susan B. Anthony’s grave with the line of people waiting to put their “I voted” stickers on it. They cover the gravestone with stickers and I start weeping again. We’re in for four years of backsliding, four years of unraveling hard-fought for progress. What’s the use? Winter is coming. Curl up in a ball.
Stage Five: Acceptance
I’m done sulking, gather trash, throw a load in the washing machine, go out into this too-warm November day to rake leaves on hard, dry ground. These days, one medium-size trash bag, an hour’s effort, is all I can do, but today I’m a raging granny: furiously gather two huge leaf bags packed with yard detritus, finish the laundry, throw the trash, clean the kitchen. When I’m done, I’m sweaty and exhausted and dry-eyed.
Hillary: “Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans.” President Obama invited Trump to the White House tomorrow to begin the transition planning. Gracious and decent, Obama puts the welfare of the country above his own feelings, reminds us that the presidency is a relay race and he wants a smooth handoff of the baton.
I’ll be running through these stages of grief over and again, for weeks or years. At Reagan’s and Bush the Younger’s elections I grieved: I believe both damaged our country, but nothing like what I fear will happen now. Still, we have a system, checks and balances, and limits on what a president can do. How many defundings has Trump promised which cannot be delivered?
I regret damning Trump voters to hell when I was in the anger stage. I know they aren’t all racists, woman haters, people who won’t be happy until oil pipelines crisscross the country and not a tree is left standing.
Oops, that was anger again. This is going to be hard. Start over. Good people voted for Trump due to their economic woes, their anger at being ignored by both parties for decades. But even in those red states, most people believe in climate change and gay rights. Good people: just really pissed off.
I get emails from Sierra Club, Presente, MoveOn and PEN. (PEN promotes free expression and has a Muslim writer program.) All four groups ask me to join them in standing up to the new regime, which has vowed to oppose the issues they champion. Sierra Club’s email, for example, included this urgent list:
We will not — we cannot — stop fighting. If we do, we will lose everything we’ve fought for. End of Paris Climate deal. End of the EPA. End of Federal Clean Energy. More drilling. More coal. More pipelines. Lives destroyed. Wildlife bulldozed.
Meetings are already happening; organizing has begun. Pick your cause. There’s plenty to go around.
Watch carefully as the new White House takes shape. Unlike Obama, Trump is not a hands-on leader. He leaves nuts and bolts to staff. We need to monitor those people–who they are, what they’re doing. Trying to keep Muslims from entering the country? Building that wall?
We are stronger together. More than half of us voted for Hillary. If enough of us act, we can salvage what we love. You knew that, right? That democracies require an involved, informed citizenry to survive?
Thursday, November 10, 2016
I wake up feeling disoriented. Wait: that was just a bad dream, wasn’t it?