Decision 2020, hope, sedition, treason, Voting, White House

Breathe and Reboot

Early last week as I was waiting on the Electoral College to once and for all certify this election, still frustrated and dumbfounded over the large number of votes POTUS amassed in November’s election, I asked my husband, what is it that draws so many people to him? Where does this cult-like magic dust come from and why have so many signed up to roll in it? His answer: “Permission to be an asshole.” That’s certainly one explanation. 

I remember early on when people were chewing around the notion of this self-absorbed business mogul / reality TV personality having even the remotest shot at the White House. Many Republicans and undecideds and disillusioned Democrats I suppose thought, fuck it, what do we have to lose? Let’s humor our curiosity and let the chips fall where they may in a let’s just see what will happen experiment. 

Fast forward to January 6, 2021, and we have the unthinkable unfolding before us. Thousands organizing, marching, storming, destroying everything in their path. Propelled by their leader, the 45th President of the United States, they carried nooses, zip ties, Confederate flags, even one man came with a spear in hand and another in an Auschwitz hoodie, trashing offices, urinating in the Capitol’s hallowed halls, pulling up and ruining all that is fixed and revered. Along their way, they shot selfies, capturing maniacal sweaty grins stretched across their faces as they gripped torn placards, stolen files, broken sculptures, any and all proof of piracy they could expose.

In the earlier days of this godawful presidency, it used to feel like you’d gone to bed forgetting to secure the steak knives and sharpies, only to wake and wonder in the eerie quiet of the morning, uh oh, what will we find? Twitter removing the megaphone has further caged this pacing manic man, a bully now without his bullhorn. 

“Let’s just get him out of office. I think he’s teed up to get out of office.” -Colin Powell

As Colin Powell noted with a painfully long 13 days left for the President in office, the weekend in front of us takes care of three days and then there’s just one week ahead of us. We need coverage and we need it now. Our toddler is having tantrums and the babysitter has gone AWOL. Grownups are trying to do their jobs, but their less-than-adorable child now needs constant monitoring.  

Where does it start, this need for attention, this gaping hole that can never get filled in such a man and his throngs of like-minded followers? Who gets the blame? Is it their parents, genetics, the economy, lack of education? What then? What about the cardinal rules and the millions of little ones parents and teachers in command of us pipe into our psyches ad nauseum from day one  –  wait your turn in line, say you’re sorry, wash your hands. At what point after challenging the rules and still without reaching that place you wanted to land, does one simply become deaf to the rules and chart a new course?

“They’ve been lied to and convinced to invest in an anger that is not going to be easy to quell.” -Chris Cuomo

What makes these people so gullible, so hungry for a cause, a course of destruction? As for the liar(s)… if you repeat a lie over and over, does it become a truth? We are back at that great if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound question. I suppose it depends on the state of the minds hearing it as to whether a given lie will stick and permanently absorb into one’s awareness. We have before us a deadly reminder of how much words matter.

Are we simply looking for permission to be an asshole? And when we arrive, is it as good as we’d hoped? Were those moments of selfie taking and posting pleasurable or instead simply a shot of adrenaline the terrorists craved to break up the monotony of dashed hopes, crumbling careers, or broken relationships? Could that same rush possibly be found in moments of greatness, personal accomplishment, physical fitness, lifting up someone who’s fallen, or actively participating toward a greater good? It’s clear many are hungry staring into their uninspired cupboards and with fridge doors open, searching for something that will taste good on their collective upset stomachs.

What happened to these people? When did their deep disappointments set in? Were they ever on an optimistic course and simply dealt a bad bump in the road that they never could iron out? How did they become so disconnected from reality and civil society? We have to reckon with the notion that they are a part of who we are, who we have been for years.

I recently read that in Indonesia local authorities ordered several inmates to dig graves for those who have died of COVID-19 as punishment for not wearing face masks in public. I’ve also seen front line health care workers on TV imploring those who still doubt COVID’s existence to join them in the ICU to witness for themselves the real struggle. I’m curious if diving into this grim reality would change the doubters, open the eyes of those refusing to look. Instead of just having these angry people rot in jail, can they be rehabilitated along with the scaffold of our broken nation?

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy, of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law. Just plain simple decency.” – Joe Biden

President-elect Biden says we have much healing to do, and he is right. In addressing some of our nation’s most pressing issues, such as COVID-19, racial injustice, the teetering economy, our children’s education and our planet’s health, how can we unite to build back better? The world is watching.


It’s Time

Time is dragging its feet as this election draws near. Looking for clues in its letters I notice time spelled backwards is emit. While we’re waiting this interminable wait, what are we to do with ourselves? What helpful things can we emit?

They say time heals all things. That’s a lot of pressure on time, and c’mon, can we really catch up and start improving? Time is moving too  s l o w l y. The election just eight days ahead feels like months. Why can’t we just get there already? I sound like a kid on a car trip. 

This is bigger than most things. This is our health on the line, our safety, our equal rights, our reputation in the world, our economy, our planet. Our DIGNITY. This is the biggest election we will experience in our lifetime. No pressure, right? I’m glad I voted early yet now feel powerless in this waiting. Do you? I almost envy those voting on Election Day because they still have that ability to move the needle. If you’ve already voted, it’s done. You’ve made your choice. And now, you must wait. 

Just as you can’t “Like” a Facebook post twice, you of course can’t vote twice to nudge things in a certain direction. Decision 2020 looms large and I find myself hitting pause in my mind until this election is over. It’s a significant threshold ahead. Not that I have social plans during a pandemic, but I’m holding my breath in a  state of suspension, stuck until November 3rd cracks things open. We had our before the pandemic days, and now we are in our before the election days, on the cusp of big change we can almost taste. Some days I’m confident all will fall neatly into place, those balls bouncing overhead will come down and slide into the right slots, and on other days, I worry, what WILL we do?

We are waiting to breathe a collective sigh of relief, but we’re not all together — we’re divided. One person’s dream is another’s nightmare. As we’re waiting for time to speed up and get on with its healing magic, what is it we can emit in the process? Certainly please, not Covid virus particles. (Wear your mask!) What can come out of each of us that will help things? There’s always that divine trifecta of hope and grace and love, but I’ve been looking for something small I can roll up my sleeves and do.

Sure, I voted. But this election I also did things I’ve never done before. I don’t consider myself terribly political or an activist or even particularly versed in policy. Yet this go ‘round I donated money to Biden’s campaign. Twice. Ok, thrice as moments ago I succumbed to another campaign plea, the ActBlue receipt coming in just now. A small sum, but still a first for me. I added signs (yes, plural) in my yard. They had to go up. Did I change anyone’s mind? I’ll never know, but there’s an elephant in the room who is not helping things, and I had to stake these messages in the ground, show passersby that I am not okay with how things are. That I want better for myself and them. For all of us. With several signs up and another really large recently added, maybe someone driving by might think, why are they so passionate about this race and this candidate? And who are they voting against? (as if they don’t know by now, but still!) I wrote a few postcards for two senators and that brought me a little hope when I mailed then. I volunteered to make calls on three Saturdays and I’ve got just one remaining. Every now and then I feel it working. Someone asks a question I can answer which helps them get closer to casting their vote, another person needs that reminder to fill out their ballot and get to the drop box, and we share a kind word. Others hang up on me, tell me I’ve called Trump country, or scream at me asking me how I got their number (they’re a registered voter), that they did not consent to being recorded (I’m not recording them) threatening me they are recording me right now. I’m pretty sure I know where they learned this vitriol. 

You know the type, you’ve seen him. He’s the guy in front of you in traffic who has been a terrible driver for miles, but who suddenly as the light turns red careens through the intersection and zooms ahead, making it across. Meanwhile, others have been obeying the rules and trying to get ahead themselves, but this guy has his own rules and can’t seem to get with the program and proceed normally like the rest of us. You find yourself stuck because of him, frustrated by the guy with no scruples who slithered through the intersection, turned his head, laughing, “so long suckers!” 

No matter who wins, we can’t throw in the towel, we can’t give up. We know we’re better than this, and if our leader doesn’t represent the best of us, we still can as individuals become our own best. No one can take that away. This is America. We can still lift each other up in the smallest of ways every single day, and we will begin to see that shift, that pivot we’re craving. 

I can’t look anymore. Wake me when it’s over.