What American voters did this week is obscene.
But no, it did not come as a surprise. A shock, yes, to see it actually unfold. But a surprise, no. It’s not as though the short history of democracy has always favored the angels. Or as though the human capacity for resentment, bigotry, and sheer dumbness is any less than it always has been. Or as though people ever tell the truth to pollsters.
But still, we hoped that sanity would prevail. And for now, that hope is shattered.
Here in Seattle, we’re a deep blue island on the edge of a vast ocean of red. There’s a heavy silence in the air, as though the whole city is in mourning. And indeed that’s the word I keep hearing. Take the time to mourn so that we can recover from the shock, we’re told. Work our way through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief. “Heal.”
Humbug, more like it. We’re being psycho-babbled into resignation.
Those five stages of grief? They’re denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
But I am not in denial. I will make no bargains with monstrosity. I totally refuse the luxury of depression or despair. And please just pull the plug on me if I ever accept this vile travesty of a human being as the 45th president of the United States.
That leaves anger. And this is not a comfortable place to be. Anger eats at you; it’s toxic. But then that is the hallmark of the man who is now the president-elect.
I’ve felt that toxicity seeping into me over the past few months. Felt my temper shortening; my tolerance for disagreement diminishing; my language — as a writer! — reduced to spitting, spluttering outrage.
Sounds like I could do with some healing? No. Please don’t even think of telling me that this is the time for that. Try telling it to the people who will now methodically dismantle every step towards progress made over the past eight years. Go ahead, just try. They’re laughing at you already.
Which leaves the option of… leaving. We joked about that. Canada, Costa Rica, Iceland, Malta, New Zealand? We amused ourselves by toying with possibilities in after-dinner conversation, indulged in fantasy, knowing — or thinking we knew — that it would never come to that.
And it hasn’t. Because I’m damned if I’ll leave. Damned if I’ll give up. Damned if I’ll be driven out by bigotry and stupidity.
I will stay. We all will — all the plurality of voters who saw a Democrat win the popular vote but lose the election for the second time in twenty years.
We, the majority, will take this country back again. And if the price to be paid is years of anger, I for one am willing to pay it. Because while anger may be toxic, resignation is far more so.
Resignation only enables foulness. And for those who give in to it, it erodes self-respect, and leads to the paralysis of helplessness, even of despair. We can afford none of that.
The United States has elected bad presidents before, and we have paid the price in what is monstrously called “blood and treasure” — as have others. But never has as god-awful a candidate as this one been elected. So the very least we owe ourselves — and others — is to dig our heels in, do our damnedest to limit the damage, and however long it takes, make sure it never happens again.