One week ago, yesterday, the Unthinkable happened. The United States of America elected Donald J. Trump to be its 45th President. At this hour, 7:28 pm, on Tuesday last, I was getting ready to join some friends for a Watch Party, where we were expecting to celebrate the election of the first woman president.
But as the party went on and the results started coming in, nervous excitement gave way to nervous stomachs and disbelief as the numbers for Trump narrowed and started to pass those of Clinton. I left my friend’s house shortly after midnight and continued watching the returns, growing more anxious with each passing hour. I took time to read the blog post of one of my favorite cohorts on WordPress, whose tone was more foreboding than the feeling I had in my gut. I had the temerity to comment that “it’s not over til the fat lady sings; and she hasn’t sung yet.” Not even 10 minutes later, I was hearing the news that Hillary Clinton had just conceded to Trump. The dull ache in my stomach sharpened; and when the news anchor announced that Trump was minutes away from giving his victory speech, I turned off the TV and crawled under the covers, seeking solace from my dog Roxie.
On Wednesday, November 9, I took to Facebook and avoided watching television as much as possible. I “liked” posts that supported my pain, sorrow, and anger; I ignored posts from my opposition friends who were celebrating their victory. Among the posts I “liked” was one that confirmed what I had observed the night before: that the margin of victory for Trump eerily matched the percentage of Gary Johnson votes. This little factoid merely served to increase my anger at the damned millennials who decided to voice their disapproval of both “mainstream” candidates with their protest votes. I railed at black millennials who proudly boasted that they had beat the system by not voting at all.
My fingers began to fly over my keyboard, typing out the spew of shock, disbelief, and horror I was feeling—as pithy, witty comments to other people’s Facebook posts. Yet, I couldn’t produce one complete sentence for my own blog.
However, I did have the presence of mind to collect notes and quotes for the article I hoped to eventually write. Assuming I didn’t go crazy from the plethora of pundits’, commentators’, and anchors’ postmortems on our new National Nightmare.
The Five Stages of Grief
In those first 24 hours after the election, I joined the thousands of Googlers who were looking up “the five stages of grief”: 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; and 5. Acceptance. Personally, I had jumped from stunned disbelief/denial (turning off my TV before the victory speech), to anger—no tears, bargaining, or depression—to resignation, instead of “acceptance,” in that time. On Wednesday night, I watched and laughed with Stephen Colbert’s take on Hillary Clinton’s supposed stages of grief; he was incredulous at her ability to jump right ahead to acceptance—“what happened to the other four stages???” [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMtFAi84ehTSYSE9XoHefig]
“Frankenstein”: The monster is loose and the villagers are up in arms
Even on Tuesday, while at the party, I was trying to make sense of what was happening. At one point, I declared to the few remaining guests that “Real Republicans are now the villagers chasing down the Frankenstein monster that it created.” In my mind’s eye was the images of one of the old black-and-white versions of the movie Frankenstein at the point where the monster is loose and the villagers are up in arms, torch lights ablaze. But in reality it was the millennials who took to the streets, by the thousands, from sea to shining sea, with their #NotMyPresident signs and LoveTrumpsHate banners. By the weekend, the backlash by the emboldened Trumpsters had also taken root, with one angry white woman furiously cursing a reporter for covering the protests, as if she was the personification of the Great-Again America, and the protesters were the Enemy.
“Network”: From “I’m mad as hell….” to “Turn off your television sets!”
By Thursday, I was summoning up all the prescient “medium is the message” movies I could think of, to channel my rage against the Media who, in my mind, were ultimately responsible for creating and setting loose The Donald on the American scene in the first place, beginning with the “society” and “entertainment” industries in past decades, and culminating with the ad nauseum coverage bestowed upon him over the last year and a half. The film Network captured for me the current plight of the so-called news anchor, for whom reporting the truth of what’s going on in the world has been supplanted by a ratings-driven smugness, egotism, and cluelessness unmatched by anyone except their latest “star”—The Donald, himself.
“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”
As Trump begins to tweet and/or leak plans for his Cabinet, I am reminded of this 52-year-old film harkening back to Cold War America, in which a feckless president is pushed by his overeager military brass to press the button unleashing a nuclear bomb against the USSR (now, Russia—for all the millennials), after receiving a false report that the Russians had already unleashed its bombs against us. I lived through the real nuclear nightmare satirized in that film, and all the pre- and post-election fears of Trump having the code for the nuclear football are all too real to me.
Back to Life, But Not Back to Reality, Yet
By the weekend, I had resumed watching the news and reading newspaper stories and blog posts about our post-election nightmare world. I have adopted a gallows humor about what’s happening now, responding to what I see and hear with a double dose of skepticism, “I told you so’s,” and defiance. One minute, I am ready to join The Resistance and march with the protesters. The next, I want nothing more than the comfort of my home, friends, and family. My stomach still roils at the Republican threats against my hard-earned benefits: The Affordable Care Act, which has protected me in my first 3 years of early retirement—after 38 years of employment as an adult, not to mention the additional 7 years of employment during my high school and college years; Social Security, for which I paid my dues over a combined 45 years of working; and Medicare. My blood still boils at the hateful, racist, hypocritical statements coming out of the mouths of half the country, not to mention the brazen acts of violence against those of us who are not WASPS. Yet I am not afraid of losing my civil rights and my freedom as an American; I will fight to the death for my right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
But now, instead of fearing the chaos that is TrumpWorld, I am speculating about what all this will actually mean in the short term and in the annals of history. For instance, there’s the current stalling of the Transition Plan—there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes intrigue and innuendo going on, not just about logistics, but also the backroom drama of backstabbing and revenge, involving, among other people, Chris Christie and Trump’s son-in-law, as reported by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC program last night (http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_a1christie_161115 ). I’m not sure my embedding code will work for Maddow’s bombshell, but I urge you to watch it, if you can. The gist of the story is that the real reason Christie was dumped from the Transition Team is that, before Christie became governor of New Jersey, he was Attorney General of New Jersey, and his son-in-law’s father was swept up and imprisoned for his role in the scandal that took down the then-governor of New Jersey.
The moral of Maddow’s story is that all the crazy things we’ve been hearing about Trump’s need to surround himself with loyalists and to exact revenge on his enemies is more than likely true.
I just hope that we all come to our senses before it’s too late. The Trumpsters—especially the ones cheering Trump’s proposals about so-called “entitlements”—realize that it is their Welfare, Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare that are at stake, just as much as it is for the rest of us.
Stay strong. Stay vigilant. And may God Save America from itself.