This is the last post I am writing before the new “era” begins. The last time President Obama will be at the helm of the United States when I hit “publish.”
It still seems so surreal. I feel like I’m bracing myself for a really scary roller coaster ride that I never wanted to be on.
Yes, I am having one helluva time accepting that “we the people” elected…the person who will be sworn in this Friday. Yes, I literally accept it because, well…it’s happening…but in my heart? Still no.
Listen, I know we have several hard truths that we need to work on as a nation. We truly have a lot of work to do. I get how so many people feel disenfranchised and are looking for change. I get how the level of corruption and detachment in government has left millions—myself included—feeling as though our politicians are not working for us—more like against each other…or for big money. Or both. I get that. I do.
I also understand that many people have issues with Hillary Clinton. Some legit, and some fed by fake news and general dislike. I don’t agree, but I get that. I do.
I just don’t get how the president-elect has been embraced by as many people as he has as the solution to our problems.
And I can’t help but think that if all else that has come out about the election was the same but the candidates were reversed—and Clinton had won instead—what the losers’ response would have been…
If it had come out that the Russians had meddled on Clinton’s behalf, if the FBI had created more ill-founded suspicion against her opponent days before the election while at the same time suppressing damaging info about her, if Trump had won the popular vote but not the electoral college…if her supporters had told peaceful protesters and those who are heartbroken to get over it and grow up?
Well, if that were the case, I doubt that Trump’s supporters would be taking this very well. No, I envision riots, violence, lawlessness…and downright fury.
And as I take in all of the lasts of the Obama presidency, it is impossible not to see the difference between the two men and the way they carry themselves—the chasm of class, grace, character, thoughtfulness, caring, and humility. The difference is absolutely stunning. Stunning. STUNNING.
For the first time in my life, I have genuine trepidation about the transfer of power in the United States. There have been times that my chosen candidate wasn’t elected, and I felt apprehension at what changes might be in store—but never like this. Never a sense of worry that people might suffer greatly or lose their civil rights. Never a sense of worry that entire groups of people might be marginalized and hatred normalized. Never a sense of thinking that someone who speaks out against the president risks direct consequences. Isn’t that at the heart of what we value as a democracy??
The list of people that Trump has gone after because they spoke out against him grows every day. Whether it’s Meryl Streep or Rep. John Lewis or countless others—to think that voicing your first amendment right would result in a direct lashing out? For criminy’s sake, you can have your son get killed protecting our country, and you’re still considered a “fair” target if you’re vocal about not being on Team Trump. Unbelievable.
Even in writing this little ol’ blog the reality is that I’m opening myself up to possible backlash. Not that Trump himself would actually get wind of my disdain, but that his legions of followers would be ready, willing, and able to rip into me. I’ve already been there. It sucks. Not only to have it happen, but to realize how “normal” it’s become to be so awful to one another.
His way of handling criticism is just one facet of my fear. How he is handling the press and shutting down the outlets that he doesn’t like, or the many conflicts of interest that come with his business, or who he is choosing for his cabinet, or his lack of diplomacy, or how he is undermining our intelligence agencies, or…how he can boldly misstate facts and know with certainty that he will still be believed by his followers…
And then of course there is all of the salivating going on in GOP land as they work quickly to dismantle whatever they want—including taking away healthcare for 20 million people and affecting millions more who have pre-existing conditions.
This is all really happening?
It really is.
I think what is perhaps the most terrifying, though, is what has happened to the way we perceive—and accept—truth. Whenever I watch Kellyanne Conway speak, my eyes glaze over. She spins and pivots so much that I would think at some point she just might vomit due to all the movement. But…it works. And that speaks volumes to me as to what so many are willing to accept as a complete answer.
Drain the swamp? Fill it more! Then ask his supporters how they feel about Trump’s putting billionaires and lobbyists in his cabinet, and they’ll confidently say, “Yeah—but these guys are SMART!”
It doesn’t matter. The man is Teflon.
Why should anyone think that whatever Russia might “have” on Trump means anything when he’s already gotten through what he has? Proud, self-proclaimed pussy-grabber? Not a problem. Illegal misuse of a charitable foundation? Not a problem. Fraudulently scam students with Trump University? Not a problem. Ship jobs overseas while simultaneously campaigning against it? Not a problem. Bully anyone who doesn’t fall in line? Not a problem. Lack of actual knowledge for the job of president? Not a problem. Found lying time and time and time again? Not. A. Problem.
I said many times before the election that if Trump somehow won, I would move to Canada. While my family agreed in spirit, they were really not ready to pack their bags. But I love Canada and the spirit and kindness of the Canadian people, and there is a part of me that still wants to move there. Once faced with the reality of the outcome of the election, though, I realized that what I really needed to do was to stay and work to try and make things better. So I’m sticking around.
Because, as President Obama recently said in his farewell address:
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
…It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
There is much work to be done. I’m not sure where our country’s path will lead to, but I intend to not blindly follow.
On this Martin Luther King Jr Day, I want to believe. I want to remember, as MLK said, that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
So I will strive to toil with light and love.
Thank you Martin Luther King for your work and your words. And thank you, President Barack Obama, for your work and your words. They will not be forgotten.