Regrouping

I had to take a break for a while. The anger was taking a toll on me. And what takes its toll on me also takes its toll on my daughters. They’ve been picking up on my worry, my outrage, and while those are real and good healthy emotional responses to they way things are unfolding, I don’t think spending the next four years seething is going to help much.

Although, I suspect that no matter what, I’ll be spending the next four years doing a fair amount of seething.

But what I don’t think I want to do is come in here and just regurgitate the day’s awful news and just spew vitriol about it. There are dozens of places where that’s already happening. I’d be just one more angry voice in the void where it turns out fascist tendencies have been brewing in a way I naively thought we had left behind.

Every day I wake up, pour myself a cup of coffee and read the news. And the news hits me over the head with a monkey stick. I guess, during the weeks I didn’t write anything, I was trying to tell myself that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe all those conservatives on my Facebook feed — the ones who have spent the last two months laughing triumphantly and dragging out the old nicknames for people like me (Libtard, Lemming, Demoncrat…) — were right. Maybe we were being overdramatic hysterics when we contemplated life under a Trump presidency.

But it’s been less than two weeks, and already it’s like: holy shit, is this all really happening? And how is it that all the checks and balances built in to the Constitution aren’t kicking in to put a stop to this? I know I can trace, painstakingly, the course of events that brought us to this point, and there are people already doing that, certainly. But what I can’t see is what we all need to see: a way out. Assuming that Trump doesn’t push the button in a fit of childish rage and the world is still here in four years, how do we recover from this? How do we reach the die hard Trump supporters, to explain to them that he never had their interests at heart. Never. He’ll sacrifice each and every one of his voters for his own narcissistic ends. I can see it. Millions of us can see it.

Yesterday, in the library down town where the significant and ever-increasing population of homeless people congregate during the days through the winter here, I listened as a homeless elderly man almost got into a vehement argument with a woman near the computer banks. I don’t know what started it, but I heard him bellowing and then she said something like, “It’s not about the Liberals or the Republicans…” but he was already walking away from her angrily, proclaiming to all of us in the quiet area about how Trump was going to save him, save us all, make America great again. He was limping slightly, a crumpled backpack slung over one shoulder, and his clothing was as grimy as his face and long gray hair. The farther away he got from the woman, the quieter he became, so the security guard just left him alone. Eventually he settled into a chair, still muttering angrily but softly about the glory to come, now that Trump was in office.

Clearly, there will never be any reasoning with that man. His troubles are too many to begin with, and chances are, he didn’t even get to vote in the election. But he is a citizen of this country, and his voice counts, even if that voice is raised inexplicably and inappropriately in the study area of the library on a Tuesday morning. There would never be a way to explain to him that to Trump he would be either a pawn or prop, or worse, he would be nothing, something to be moved along, forgotten. Every single social and medical program in place that could help this man is now at risk because Trump only cares about his own murky agenda.

But we can’t expect this one mentally ill homeless man to understand any of this. What we did expect was for people of sound mind, reasonably good health, decently educated and living comfortably to be able to understand it. And the fact that they can’t — well, it still boggles the mind. I end up sitting on the couch in the family room at the end of the day, brow furrowed as I scroll through the afternoon’s headlines and the hateful, willfully obtuse comments from the far right and, more worrisome, from the apparently-much-farther-to-the-right-than-I-once-thought moderate conservatives, and I despair of ever pulling out of this terrifying fascist nosedive.

I read far too long, mesmerized by just how fast misinformation can actually travel over the Internet, until my daughter comes in the room.

“You okay?” she asks. “You look really upset.”

“I’m fine. Just reading the news,” I say.

And despairing.

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