I’m in shock. I woke this morning up to find my familiar home adrift in an alligator-filled swamp. Where do I go from here?
Those of you who’ve been divorced will understand this feeling, that hollow thunk as the heavy realization lands on your guts. Someone I trusted, felt safe with, has just done something so out of character, so unforgiveable, that the marriage is irreparably rent.
Only it’s not my spouse, it’s my country. People I believed were smart, sturdy, good-hearted—they’ve voted like a pack of jeering twelve-year-olds, and they’ve elected the playground bully. My country is not what I thought it was. It no longer feels like home.
And the clown they’ve elected is abominably unqualified for the job. I pray that he gathers around him advisors with experience, education, and good will. So far, it’s not looking good.
When the smoke clears and we sweep up the debris, I’ll probably be OK. Even though the resultant stock market plunge will chew up large chunks of our safety net, my family won’t be out on the street. But I fear for my country.
Throughout my career as a teacher, I’ve promised kids that education was the key to a life with choices, opportunities, security. But now the reins have been grabbed by the kids who scoffed at school, who sneer at smart people, who think their white skin entitles them to stomp on anyone who doesn’t resemble them or toe their toxic line.
These are not my people.
And I have it easy: I’m white and, if not prosperous, at least in no immediate danger of losing my home or going hungry. Rabid packs of neo-Nazis aren’t likely to burn any crosses on my lawn. I can avoid the high-crime parts of town—I have that luxury. What about the people who are stuck there?
I’m an action-oriented person. I recover best from a dizzying blow when I can do something. It’s not in my nature to hunker down and wait. As disgusted as I am by the Trump voters, I recognize that they have some legitimate outrage. I don’t know how to fix meth-riddled Kansas, reality-TV-addled Louisiana, rusted-out Michigan—but I can reach out a hand in Tacoma. Divorce isn’t the answer here. Connection, dialogue, compassion—that’s our challenge during the next four years.
Right now, as I stare dumfounded at my computer screen, connecting Trump voters is the last thing I want to do. But there must be Republicans out there who still cherish the ideals of democracy, of opportunity, of respect for our fellow humans—even those who don’t look and act just like we do.
Please, God, let there be Republicans like that