I went to bed last Tuesday night having a déjà vu from a similar election night in 1988, George Bush (H.W., senior) vs Michael Dukakis. I was a young and naïve liberal terrified by a Bush win, which would continue the horror I’d felt as a teenager with Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980. I only survived that because my history teacher, who I respected because of his deadpan sense of humor, assured me in all seriousness that politics are a pendulum that swings back-and-forth. I was also somewhat inoculated by that teenage elixir of disdain for all who came before me and the hubris that nothing truly horrible would ever happen to me.
Eight years later in 1988, I was desperate to have the pendulum swing back to the left. Things weren’t looking too good when I went to bed that night. In the morning, I made a deliberate effort to wake up before the alarm, turn it off, and spend a few blissful moments with time and information suspended. And in that moment I tried to draw strength from the silence and the idea that all things were still possible.
And then I turned on the radio and was immediately devastated.
My naïveté then was thinking the world as I knew it was over with Bush as president. Little did I know how much worse it would get with George W. Bush (the son), and then how much better it would get — from my perspective — with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
So last Tuesday night I went to bed laughing at my 20-something self; how cute is it that I thought two Bush presidents were the worst we could get. When you are a liberal pining for the Republicans to look more like Bush senior, you are pretty well fucked, my friend. Wednesday morning I repeated the ritual: woke up before the alarm and tuned into the exquisite place of not knowing. I couldn’t quite get to a place where all things were possible. I’ve been kicked around the block a few too many times to be able to muster that kind of protective naïveté.
I got up, I picked up my phone, and my stomach lurched at the alerts proclaiming Trump had won. After dry heaving, I went through a rapid fire set of emotions — fear, doubt, disgust, and then landed squarely on resolution, fueled by anger. And it was then that I appreciated my 51 years on this planet. I know things for sure that my teen and 20-something self did not. I have way more confidence, tools, and resources than they had. And I also have a special kind of anger, thanks to perimenopause, and it’s not something you want to screw around with. It comes from a deep, hormone-fueled place, the same hormonal place that pushes a 9-pound baby out of a hole the size of a lemon. We’re talking lifeforce here, and I’ve got a mainline to it.
I’m smart enough to be afraid for all us who Trump has maligned, and as the days pass, I’m even more fearful of the pack of Dementers he’s allowing to be assembled as his transition team. It’s like Dick Cheney times 5. But as someone who went to rallies for the abortion rights in the ’80s, I take it as a sign of progress that there will be also rallies for people of color, sexual orientation, and religion to fight for the rights that have been gained since Bush senior. To quote my favorite movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, “I’m older than you and I have more insurance.” I’m lucky enough to live in liberal Massachusetts, and I will do what I need to do to fight this. I don’t have small children or a partner to consider. I’ve been kicked around by life some, and I’m stronger for it. I’m in the perfect place to hold the line
Here are the things I’ve done so far. If you are so inclined, do what you can with what you have. In this fight, everyone’s contributions count, big or small, words, money, actions.
- Don’t forget self-care. This is a marathon not a sprint, and we’ve got to outlast them.
- I’m lucky to be able to rearrange my budget to give to Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Massachusetts, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
- I saw a great illustrated guide of 4 simple step to help victims of harassment. The creator, a Paris-based artist, focused on Islamophobia because that is what she has experienced in Paris, but it works for any situation when a person is being harassed. You engage that person with small talk, and don’t acknowledge or engage the attacker. Check out the whole explanation.
- I’m planning on going to a women’s march on January 21 in Washington, DC, a day after the inauguration. I’ll go wherever else I can.
- Be as kind as you can to yourself and others.
- I’ve gained strength and hope from the many people who are engaging, helping, listening, and fighting for all of our rights.
So, Trump my message to you is this: if you or those around you are interested in dismantling human rights of any kind, than I dare you to go ahead and grab my pussy, but I warn you–it’s got teeth.