I wrote this post exactly two years ago, when most of us believed that Hillary Clinton was about to become the first woman president of the United States, and most of us knew that she was a flawed and disturbing choice who would be a thousand times better than the alternative. Then we got the alternative.
Comments on my two-year-old post below in italics.
I haven’t spoken to a single soul today who isn’t in some degree of concern, anxiety, fear, or panic about tomorrow’s U.S. election results. Me, I’m calmer than most. I’d say I’m more optimistic than most, except I’m not willing to jinx anything.
I’m less optimistic now, especially in the short term. I am pretty confident we’ll have some victories, maybe even a lot of victories, but they won’t give us the White House, they won’t save the Supreme Court, and they won’t stem the tide. What I hope they will do is show the world, and show us here at home, what the people want.
And here’s what I think, very personally. (I’d rather write this with Laurie, but she’s not available; we’re in this together but right now you get just me.)
Basically, tomorrow can go two ways in the United States (and let’s face it, what happens here will affect the entire world):
If it goes one way, we’re in the same fine mess we’re in now, living in the 2016 analog of Weimar, facing an emboldened white-nationalist segment which will have to be contained and dealt with. There will be much to hope for and look forward to, much to fear. As always, the more marginalized you are, the more you have to fear. Much work will remain to be done.
Oh, how I long for that set of problems. But we didn’t get them.
If it goes the other way, it will probably be cataclysmic. The emboldened white nationalists will have the government’s blessing. The reins of power will be handed over to the alt-right, to people with indefensible political, economic, and social beliefs and plans. Everything we rely on will be undermined, destabilized, put at risk.
Well, I hit that nail on the head, not that it was a hard or clever prediction.
Even the cataclysm (may it not come to pass!) will not be the end of the world, or even the end of the United States. We can expect for some very dark times. I categorically reject the concept that “heightening the contradictions,” a high-falutin way of saying “making people more miserable” is a defensible or smart way to bring about change.
I don’t have to believe in “heightening the contradictions” to embrace the belief that it is our task to take care of one other. In cataclysm, in despair, in hell, that job becomes far more intense, far more demanding. More of us will have to take it on. No number of us will be enough to protect anywhere near everyone, but each of us can do our part. While 2016 U.S. is not 1930s Weimar, and while no current U.S. presidential candidate is Adolf Hitler, nonetheless the American people may well be called upon to show ourselves on the historical stage, as the German people were in the mid-20th century. Another thing I don’t believe is that the outcome of that test was inevitable.
Although the two paths are so vastly divergent, so starkly in contrast, the task on November 9, when the votes are counted, is the same. We will each have to find our part, do our part, take care of one another, and be gentle with those who need care and unrelenting with those who need to be stopped.
And here we are. It is our task to take care of one another, and in the face of extreme opposition, I think we have shown up pretty well. Let me be clear that “we” is a vast group of people with various levels of commitment and passion, and that very specific individuals and groups have led the changes I note below. We have gathered in airports, at borders around children in cages, at mass-shooting victim memorials, at Supreme Court hearings, and as close to the halls of power as the cowards will let us get.
We (where we is women of all races and economic levels) have changed the face of acceptable gender behavior with the #metoo movement which, backlash or no, failures or no, does appear to be here to stay. And we will not let us stop. When the conversation is about powerful men being frightened or daunted, then you know something has changed.
We (where we is Black people and their allies) were making our opposition to police violence felt long before Trump took office, but we haven’t stopped. Everyone in government knows that the unprovoked death of a civilian at the hands of a cop will be publicized, and serious attempts at accountability will be made. Everyone knows those civilians are mostly Black and brown, often children, often completely harmless. We haven’t made much visible headway in this one, but we have changed the conversation.
We have continued to make it clear (where we is everyone) that we care about our climate and our environment, that we know the heat and the storms are not coincidence, or “God’s will.” North Carolina has joined the Paris accords on its own, since our country has reneged on that agreement.
Eve of destruction? Or not? Here’s what to do. Vote. Volunteer. Do something in your community today; it will make you feel better. And breathe.
Me, I’m on my way to staff the Election Protection hotlines (1-866-OURVOTE).
This year, I didn’t get a chance to do that work, but that number will help you out tomorrow if you need it. I’m voting, talking, blogging, and breaking my back to see economic change in my community, most notably in the form of a local public bank. That’s something I wasn’t doing before November 2016. And it helps.
Take care of yourself. However tomorrow goes, the road ahead is rough and rocky.
Follow me on Twitter @spicejardebbie.