The 2016 Presidential election has rocked me to my core. I am not the same person I was prior to it. I am not the only one, either. There are tens of millions of us and we are shaken. Honestly. I will find the attribution, but somewhere I saw the tweet, "Knowing your President has behaved worse than anyone you know is wounding to the soul."
It sure is.
This blog never was going to be about politics. I know that is not "cool". Politics are divisive and dirty. I started out wanting to write about Maine and post pictures of its beauty and describe how it inspires me. I had just started cooking (at age 55) and thought it might be fun to document that. Though, now I realize how glutted the internet is with food blogs and so many hundreds of people have food stories so much more useful than mine.
I found myself not writing as much as I thought I would. I found myself sitting in front of the computer with nothing much to say.
Here's the secret. My passion has ALWAYS been the world, our nation, the intersection of the two, and the ways our country can be closer to the ideal under which it was created. When I was 10-13, I read every book on the Holocaust. I dreamed of ending the civil war in Ireland, I thought that I could contribute to world peace as a member of the foreign service. I know. Delusions of a child. But, I was a child of the Vietnam War era. I wasn't old enough to be directly affected--to have friends or family who were drafted, but it colored my world. The evening news telegraphs were gruesome. The anti-war demonstrations were raging, even in my quiet mid-western city. There was a poster in the lobby of my school tracking the status of siblings of students who were in the war--different colored stars next to their name delineating whether they were okay, injured, or had been killed. I was an anxious child and this was an anxious time.
As I moved through high school, that anxiety led me to feel I couldn't handle being in the foreign service, that I didn't have what it took to work in Washington, DC. That I would hate that life of meetings and social gatherings and living in cities where I knew no one. So, I buried that passion and pursued "safer" alternatives. My first career was as a teacher (special education and than as a sixth grade teacher). My second career as a social worker. You can see the focus on careers that I deemed "helping society" remained. But, those bigger dreams were packed away.
However, not completely forgotten.
Politics has always interested me. I volunteered for election activities. But, I never got too involved or dared to run for a local office. Then, Barack Obama ran for President. Everything changed for me. The lids came off those boxes of dreams and hopes. I got more involved with his election, with protesting Sarah Palin, with making phone calls (which was BRUTAL for me with my social anxiety). I did it because he inspired me to. I joined my local Democratic committee. I was a precinct captain. I started to follow politics more intensely and thoroughly. I watched him inherit the worse conditions of any President in my lifetime and he faced it bravely with dignity, grace, and intelligence. He tried to be bi-partisan, nominating some Republicans to his cabinet, picking his primary adversary as his Secretary of State. He persevered in the face of unprecedented opposition (GOP members of Senate and House pledging to oppose ANYTHING he tried to do--and upholding their pledge even when it meant voting against stimulus programs to provide jobs for Americans out of work and losing their homes in the Great Recession). He faced their noxious partisanship and went to work, anyway. The economy is good (yes, it could be better, but given the time we live in, it is good). Housing markets are back on track. Employment is the highest in a decade. The median income increased for the first time since the '90s. Things seemed on track. Yes, with pockets of deep trouble; but certainly there has been massive improvement since 2009.
Now, we have Donald Trump, a man who admitted he bragged about assaulting women, who provided a platform for the white nationalist movement, who lumped all Mexican immigrants into a category of "rapists". "They're bad, bad people." This man who chose as his Vice President a man who has never accomplished anything in the Senate or Congress, but who as Governor of Indiana passed discriminatory legislation that was so blatant it was overturned in Federal court. Mike Pence spends his life trying to impose his religious values onto the rest of us and works to limit women's rights. This man who stands to profit from his foreign policy and domestic policy decisions because he will not divest his business interests. This man who will not show us his tax returns. This man who will not let us know what connections he has to Russia. Donald Trump is nominating people to cabinet positions whose ideologies are in opposition to the departments they could direct. This man who lies and then denies the lies, even when there are video tapes to confirm the truths. This man who rules by tweet and spits in the face of nepotism concerns by having his children sit in on meetings with foreign dignitaries and domestic business leaders; whose sons will continue to carry on business dealings with foreign entities who might be using those business dealings to curry favor with out President.
This man who lost the popular vote by more than any President elected. This man who had 2.8 million fewer people vote for him is now going to lead this country.
"Having your President behave worse than anyone you know is wounding to the soul." Amen.
How do those of us with wounded souls cope with our grief and bitter disappointment? How do we walk among our fellow citizens knowing that people who do good things, who are generous, whom we have known as children we played with, that they voted for someone who has done repulsive, inhumane things? How do we reconcile that they did not feel it imperative to draw a line against repulsive behavior? It wasn't clear at first. Even pundits seemed bereft. But, the engines are beginning to start back up.
There is the Women's March on Washington on January 21. I will be there with friends and my sister. There is the Youtube concert during the inauguration--with all the stars that refused to perform for the incoming President. There is MoveOn.org; OurRevolution.org; and the gifted comedians/performers who are going to shine a light on the workings of this new administration--Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert. There is an incredible new NPR program called 1A, which will provide a forum for civilized discussion and debate between people of different viewpoints--which I absolutely support. We have to be able to talk to each other, to hear each other, to listen actively as Diane Rehms stated in her last show.
I have started a Facebook page called, "Trump Tracker," because I wanted a space to post and record information about him and his policies without jamming them all on my personal feed.
"Not everything faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed if it is not faced." James Baldwin
These are important and turbulent times. The lids are off my boxes and this blog will now reflect that. There will still be pictures of Maine and maybe even some recipes. But, there will be politics and my thoughts on domestic and world events.
Maybe I will be grateful that Donald Trump was elected, because it forced me to overcome my anxieties and to let my true self out.