I’ve been overwhelmed with the catastrophe that is Donald Trump. The past month has been an elaborate and never-ending progression of fun house mirrors. Every day, there’s some more grotesque consequence, new ways that civil rights, sensibilities, and American traditions are stretched and distorted beyond recognition. What was never okay is now somehow okay. The adjustment is warping.
I work on finding the bright side.
The bright side. So naive. So foolish. But so necessary if we want to live the next four years without weeping constantly with our heads in our hands. What good could happen because of Trump?
Consciousness-raising: This was a thing in the sixties and seventies but it hasn’t been a thing since then. Political circumstances have allowed us to deal in nuances, tiny cuts that hurt no one, rather than in slashes, which could make many people bleed. Over the past few decades, we could pick and choose. If we were intent on avoidance, nothing could force us to confront racism and sexism. We might choose to deal with those things but we didn’t have to. That’s changed with Trump. The luxury of choice has evaporated. That’s a good thing. No one benefits by pretending that racism and sexism don’t exist. We are in for it now, but it’s about time.
Toughening Up: My husband and I are assessing the various threats and marshaling our resources. We take the yammering about Social Security and Medicare seriously and the anti-Semitic rhetoric more seriously. At a time in our lives when we thought we could relax, we are on guard. We are thinking of working longer, saving more, and making a Plan B. We consider the ‘what ifs’ in conversations that a year ago would make us laugh. No more. Now we have to be smart and resourceful, trust each other, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. It sounds dire but it’s strength-building. At 68, I was ready to start knitting. No more. Whatever I do, I want it to build muscle, not complacency.
Radicalizing: I’ve talked to young women about contraception and abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade. My stories sound quaint to them, so contrary to what they know to be true. Contraception now is cheap and available. Abortion is safe and legal. Politicians who have advocated insane restrictions on both have seemed to be marginal characters, radically right wing, out of the mainstream. No more. Now they’ll be in the White House. What was history will become current events. It will take women’s breath away. And it will make them angrier than they ever imagined they could be. What is coming next from American women will be fierce and beautiful. They will be determined and powerful. I can’t wait.
These can be extraordinary, revolutionary times. This incredible, terrible turn of electoral events could be the catapult the country needs to break from its racist, sexist past. It could be the change that politicizes everyone, not just the top 1%. It will be ugly and it will be hard but the results could be extraordinary. We could end up being the country we have always pretended to be.