Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fresh Out

'''Twas a rough night."--Macbeth

    On my third morning in post-11/9 America, I noticed many more birds in my backyard than usual. They were drawn to the bird feeder, of course, but more than that, they came for the water in the bird bath.  I understand that it hasn't rained in Alabama in over 21 days. This dry November morning was pale with diffuse light from an unpromising overcast sky. Despite the presence of wrens, chickadees, mockingbirds, bluebirds, and one woodpecker, the quiet settled on the tinderbox of our few acres, hushing even the wind. 

     Like most of the 51%  who supported Hillary Clinton, I had walked gracelessly through day one, still listening to NPR and watching Huff Post the way I had watched polls since July. We were waiting, I guess, to discover that we'd been punked.  Or that Florida had once again confused its
voters as to how to deal with a ballot.  Or that it was all a horrible dream. By day two, we were seeking explanations.  Pollsters were wrong?  All of them?  Why?  Democrats did not turn out in cities?  We should have known that! The rust belt bought the Bring Jobs Back line more than they'd let on?  And finally . . . Democrats have created an "us versus them" climate by claiming to be the educated, rational party, not listening to the outrage of people who work every day.  

     I was sorting out the various angles of why and how as I entered the building where I work, and it must have shown. "It's Thursday," said our doorman. "You're almost done."  Normally I would have nodded agreement and said Yep!  Bring on the weekend.  Today I stopped. I looked at him and said, "We have some dark days ahead."

     His tone when he replied was as even as the overcast sky this morning--still and without a trace of portent.  "Yes, we do.  This is why we pray.  This is why."  I later apologized to him, thinking I must have seemed terribly negative. But he said NO. He didn't think that.  "This is what the Black
community hoped would not happen. But we felt this. Everything is on the table," he said.  "And
when everything is on the table, everyone can lose something."
    This was the first conversation I had had with anyone and the first time I had nearly choked on the taste of despair.  Since then, my friend in West Virginia texted me a clip from Stephen Colbert's
election night show and said she didn't want to talk. Another friend closer to home called to say she had been unbearably sad all day long. My friend on the West Coast thanked God she didn't live in Ohio.  Here at home, my husband and I muttered about the merits of taking social security before full retirement age and what might be the future of Medicare. We did not talk about our granddaughter, who might not have funds for what will become obscenely expensive college.  We did not mention how she might swelter through 95-degree October days and Aprils without showers.  We did not wonder aloud if she would be paid the best wage available for whatever job she chooses. We did not discuss her public school education or the fact that she requires Medicaid. 
    Some groups in cities have already marched in the streets in protest that Donald Trump is not their president. The minority of voters who elected Trump are indignant, forgetting that their stance regarding Barack Obama was much the same. Other people have begun petitioning for electors to flip their votes in December, a helpless bleat from those wishing for a do-over.  Still others have again raised the question of whether Electoral College should exist at all. There is blaming; there is anger.  

     There is fear.

      The Governor of Alabama told us a couple of weeks ago that our education system in this state "sucks."  He offered no solution other than that he would do something about it. This seems to be the modality of those who have seized power.  We see clearly what has gone wrong, they tell us.  We will
fix this.  In the meantime, the Governor warned us, we should not try to burn anything. 

     Hillary Clinton is blameless, the most intelligent, qualified, maligned, and exonerated candidate I have ever seen. Her determination to lead was misinterpreted here in Alabama as power hunger.  Donald Trump's self-aggrandizement was taken as leadership quality. What rabbit hole have we fallen down?  No matter.  I have figured something out.  The blame lies not with Hillary Clinton, who gave her all; not with Donald Trump, who stepped in to fill a vacuum; not with the populace that voted against its own best interest because that is what they've always done; and not with Democrats whose vision was inclusive, but not inclusive enough. The blame lies with me.  I did not listen. I did not work hard.  I did not speak up often enough. That is about to change.