The girls and I and the husband were supposed to be on a plane right now, headed to the inauguration. We had planned to take a family trip to celebrate the first female president and the great country in which we live.
Instead, I’m dealing with daughters who are also sad and angry and confused. They read a lot and know what’s going on. Bun Bun listens to NPR in the morning with me, when we’re not trying to guess the answer to Ellen K’s “Q and A.” She’s aware of the Senate hearings, some of the nonsensical nominees for Baby Trump’s cabinet. More on the political wisdom of our middle child in another, more useful post. But for now…
I don’t think it serves any true purpose to call out those who voted for Trump (but watch me try in one thousand words or less) other than to express my betrayal. Bernie Sanders suggested yesterday that we are not a compassionate society and most of those who supported Trump, to me, for now, represent the reason why. (Healthcare for all? Why?) For those without the perceived privilege to practice compassion—you can’t pay the rent and you thought, misguidedly, that Trump would help despite his grotesque flaws—I get it. But you have to understand that we liberals didn’t start the conversation about bathrooms and gender, as an example. The GOP wackadoos in North Carolina did. So yes, we got distracted over issues that couldn’t and didn’t matter to you and looking back, we should have stayed focused and only spoken of “jobs, jobs, jobs” but FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, Trump?
Using the word “illegitimate” insults those who may have been born out of wedlock. How about: unqualified, incurious, soulless, chauvinistic, bombastic, inarticulate, immature, dangerously uninformed, dishonest, selfish, crass, egomaniacal, frighteningly insecure, ridiculous, unenlightened, ill-prepared, and downright cruel?
But here’s what destroys me, here’s the thing: I believe it takes a figurative village to raise a child and I thought we had a deal. Nothing has inspired me more in terms of morality, empathy, and compassion than my children. I assumed there was a social contract between me and my neighbor, next door and across town, in New York and at the Grand Canyon, at my daughters’ schools and at your son’s college, at Disneyland and in the Florida Keys. When it came to our children, at the very least, we were going to work together. We wouldn’t necessarily agree on the methods, but deep down, their best interests were in mind. If my child got lost at the aquarium, you were going to help her find me, whatever it took. You might yourself be a self-serving ass but when faced with a child in need, you could set that aside. That’s what I thought.
Yet time and time again, I watched the village crumble—congressional Republicans wouldn’t consider sensible gun legislation to make it harder for bad guys to shoot school children; crunchy idiots in Northern California wouldn’t get their children vaccinated; too many ex-jocks kept destroying youth sports for personal gain (specific, I know)—but still I held out hope. When it came to our commander-in-chief we’d at least, at least, be sure to demonstrate to our children, those too young to vote for themselves, that we wouldn’t elect a schoolyard bully. We wouldn’t choose a liar and a thief. We wouldn’t pick the guy who boasted of sexually assaulting women. Of course we wouldn’t reward the guy who made fun of a man with a disability. And then we did. Wait, sorry, I didn’t. Nearly sixty-six million American’s didn’t. But nearly sixty-three million Americans DID. They voted for that guy. And honestly, I am ripping my hair out trying to explain this betrayal to my daughters. Nothing will suffice, except to admit to them that there is no village. All that talk about setting a good example for our kids? Poof! Gone, if it ever existed in the first place. Sad!
My optimism has taken a hit since November 8th. My stomach has too. I’ll buy stock in Tums because I’m not alone. There’s comfort in that—not enough, but I’ll take what I can get. And I’ll do what I can do. Since the election, my messy schedule has prevented me from taking action (or writing), but eventually that will change. My hope has been damaged, but it’s not gone.
So the husband and I are marching with the girls on Saturday, here in Los Angeles. Coming together in a big way will hopefully inspire us to come together in the ways that truly count, on a local level, in a grassroots framework, not just to take back our government in two years and ask the world not to give up on America just yet, but also to figure out how to work with the mayor and city council members to tackle the ever-increasing homeless problem here in our city. When I exit Silver Lake Boulevard and see tents lined up beneath yet another overpass, I think as I always do: that man with his life in a shopping cart was at one time a little boy, someone’s child. But, whoops, there was no village. Sad!
On a final note (please let it be the last!), this repulsion I feel towards the incoming administration is not party-driven. It’s personal. It’s about my kids. Nearly half the voters who showed up ten weeks ago betrayed them and try as I might, I cannot let that go. Not now. The Trump supporters won’t care but I’m holding onto it masochistically, like listening to sad songs after a broken heart. I’m disturbed by how much it comforts me, still.
Though eventually, it won’t. When that time comes, I promise to write about raindrops and lollipops, college acceptances, and torn ACLs. And I’ll rebuild my figurative village, even as I know it will be smaller, more local. I am not such a big person that I’m willing to trust in America’s innate goodness again.