I thought the hardest day of 2016 was going to be the morning of November 9th. My eight year old grandson, who said a woman ought to have a chance at being president, called to ask me who won the election. I couldn’t choke back my tears. I guessed the worst thing I would do in 2016 was tell him that I was seeing a world I didn’t want for him.
I was wrong.
Less than a month later my 10 week old grandson, Brayer, suddenly stopped breathing, and his 26-year-old parents made the hard decision to remove him from life support.
There aren’t many hours left in 2016, but after putting part of Christmas dinner in the oven on Sunday and walking down to the cemetery to find my daughter and son-in-law sitting by their infant son’s grave, well, 2016, I don’t have anything more to give, and those two young parents don’t either.
As November’s disappointments settled in, and the month of December has crept along, I find myself returning to a commitment I made in 2012, which was a promise to myself, and others, to Be Present in 2013.
As the election season sped up this year, I knew there would be lots of work ahead. I didn’t think the work would be bare-knuckled battles against the Twitter-length ideas of a man with a really bad comb-over, scary illusions of his abilities, the temperament of a tired three-year old, and a failure to understand that facts are facts, regardless of whether they go along with what you believe or want for yourself.
My calendar has dates marked for Being Present. Events are easy because they require setting time aside in advance. The bigger challenge for me is Being Present in some capacity every day. It means living my values every day, and holding businesses, community leaders. elected officials, and their supporters, responsible for theirs. This is not the time to look away from hate, racism, intolerance, violence, and so many isms.
On November 9th I told my grandson Chase I will do my best to build a better world for his generation. I have to Be Present every day in 2017 to do that work. And in doing so, my hope is that the ragged edges of my heart will begin to mend too.
Last Thursday I drove to Hendersonville, North Carolina for an annual event called Life Is A Verb Camp. On the way home Sunday afternoon I opted for less interstate and more two lane roads.
In addition to the fall-colored leaves I saw lots of Trump/Pence signs, which really didn’t surprise me as a fellow Southern rural citizen. What had been floating around in the back of mind for a long time began to move more to the front of my thoughts; how are the polls capturing the rural voter? Are they getting to us at all? Am I underestimating the urban turnout?
Last week Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight polling and punditry kept setting aside the poll numbers at a certain point in his figuring, which dogged me about who people say they will vote for and what they will do in the privacy of the voting booth.
Last night Van Jones put his finger on what I was thinking: white-lash. It has been a large and unspoken element in the room on top of the anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitic, anti-woman, my version of Christianity is the only one, anti-choice, denying access to affordable health care, putting profits before our natural resources, loosening gun control laws, and the list goes on and on.
I live among the voters who showed up in force at the polls and elected Donald Trump and Mike Pence; white rural Americans.
It should not be a surprise to readers of Rural and Progressive that I write from a perspective that there are two Americas, an urban and a rural America. Many rural Americans harbor some level of racism. I’ve heard it and seen it. For some people that has been the unspoken driver behind opposition to all-things Obama. And it brought people out in force to elect a TV personality whose favorite line is, “You’re fired.”
Yesterday white rural America told Donald Trump and Mike Pence, “You’re hired.”
I may live in rural America, but the not so subtle racism and divisive values espoused by Trump and Pence are not my values. And they aren’t the values of every rural American.
I’m no less proud of being a Hillary supporter today than I was yesterday, because I believe in a country where diversity is valued and celebrated. That’s the country I will continue to help build.
Trump supporters, male and yes, female, are burning up Twitter with the hashtag #repealthe19th. The 19th Amendment gave women the vote. Multiple polls show that if only women voted in November, the slam-dunk for Clinton/ Kaine, and probably most Democratic Congressional candidates, would be deafening.
I have a suggestion for men and women who think repealing the 19th Amendment is a good idea: sit this election out and see how that feels.
What started after the 2008 election with the election of a black man to the White House, threatens to come full circle to a full-on “take back the government” uprising if Hillary Clinton is elected. Jimmy Arno of Georgia is just one of many who say they will be, I don’t know, marching to Washington, D.C., to lead some type of revolution if the election doesn’t go their way. Militia member Charles Keith Cobble claims they screen their fanatic members to make sure they aren’t KKK folks, but really, this type of “background check,” as Cobble calls it, is a farce.
The fear gripping white people, primarily poorly educated, lower-income men (I am making a broad statement and I am not going to go down a rabbit hole with anyone on it), started with racism, and now it has expanded to include women. Donald Trump fed this type of mindset. He started with birtherism, and has woven in a complete and utter disrespect for women into his mixture of hatred and fear.
It bears repeating: we withstood the resignation of one President, and a 5-4 Supreme Court vote for another one. Electing Hillary Clinton will not be the worst thing to happen to this country. And it certainly won’t be worth starting a civil war over.
Our country withstood the resignation of a President, and nine judges holding the fate of an election in their hands. Kentucky’s Governor, Matt Bevin, calls for violence if voters choose Hillary Clinton as the next President.
This is not ok. Ever. Jay Bookman spells it out in his column today.
Richard Nixon drank too much and took powerful prescription drugs while he was in the White House. Ulysses Grant drank whiskey throughout the Civil War and two terms as President. FDR and Winston Churchill stayed up all hours drinking together. Georgia W Bush choked on a pretzel, fainted, and scuffed up his cheek while watching a football game in the White House private residence. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, threw up and fainted during a state dinner in Japan. Ronald and Nancy Reagan consulted astrologers throughout Reagan’s political life. Their son, Ron Reagan Jr., wrote that he began to suspect his father was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease in 1984.
Could Hillary skip out on memorial services for September 11th victims and claim she was doing it on doctor’s orders? No. Short of her own death, she had to put on the mandatory Kevlar vest, add a shirt and dark pantsuit, and head out into warm weather for a service. It didn’t matter that her doctor told her to take a break for a few days.
Like millions of other women, she doesn’t get a day off to be sick. Women step up every day to care for aging parents, their children, and grandchildren while they undergo chemo, recover from surgery, and work multiple jobs. There aren’t many “sit this one out” passes for women. Today’s world doesn’t allow that. After all, women make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men, so we can’t afford time off.
The grueling schedule required for a candidate is exhausting. Fatigue is brutal. Hillary got sick. She’ll get over it. We should too.
Wednesday afternoon I stopped to get gas after picking up some groceries in Milledgeville, the “big” city to the west of my home town of Sandersville. A small SUV pulled up at a pump diagonally to mine. The driver, a woman maybe in her mid 60s, jumped out of her car and started walking toward me, smiling as she approached me standing at the rear corner of my car.
With great enthusiasm in her voice she asked me where I got my bumper sticker. She looked so happy, like she had finally come across another kindred soul, that she gave me a high five and immediately started telling me how worried she is about Donald Trump becoming President.
I replied that the racism and hate people feel comfortable sharing is horrifying, adding that the judgmental attitudes about people who don’t look or behave like them is stunning.
She said she’s taken issue with people she knows who judge gay people as sinners, saying that her response has been, “Do you believe God made everyone, and does God make mistakes?”
From there she said friends and family had turned away from her after she came out as gay, and that others in her family have been treated similarly.
Think about that- a family shunned one of their own, not because she was a murderer or thief, but because she wanted to date women instead of men.
This woman then looked at my car tag and realized I live in a neighboring county, and she said, “You live in Washington County and you have this one your car? You are a brave woman.”
It’s not so hard to be a privileged, white, straight woman driving around rural Georgia with a Democratic pride sticker on your car. When it helps you find members of your tribe while doing the ordinary things in life, it is even easier.
Thank you Bonnie, for extending your hand, telling me your name and story, and saying We Are Stronger Together.