Thursday, January 19, 2017

On The Precipice ...

I wrote the post below the morning after the election. I ended with "Tomorrow, I may be able to think more clearly. Today, I'm numb." The numbness has subsided. It has been replaced with vast stores of disbelief and anger.

Our country is about to inaugurate a man who is not only wholly unqualified to lead but who is, literally, under investigation for possible espionage against the United States.

How did we get here? How did so many tens of millions of people cast their votes for someone who has never served in any capacity? Who refused to disclose the most basic of information about himself? Who lied constantly? Who insulted everyone?

I suppose FOX News and conservative media has succeeded at last, in convincing a large swath of the country that fiction is more plausible than fact.

I appreciate now that I have lived a life of extraordinary security and comfort. I have taken it all for granted because I've never known any other reality.

But the other day, I had this thought: "What is the blast radius of a nuclear bomb? Will I be vaporized or will I die slowly of radiation poisoning?"

At any other point in my life, that thought would have been ridiculous. Hyperbolic.

Today, it's not.

We're about to hand over the nuclear codes to a man with the thinnest of skins, who wonders why we have all these nuclear weapons if we don't use them.

As I type this, Rick Perry is sitting for his confirmation hearing to be the Secretary of Energy, a department he vowed to eliminate when he ran for president in 2012, a department which he may now helm, even as the
New York Times revealed yesterday that he didn't understand what function it served.

Today, during his hearing, he said, "After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination."

The vast majority of jobs for the incoming administration have not been filled. In the immediate aftermath of the election, as Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner toured the White House, he was surprised to learn that President Obama's staff would be leaving.

I was grateful to read this morning that about 50 of President Obama's senior staff will be staying in their roles temporarily. They shouldn't have to stay. It's the responsibility of the Trump administration to have staff ready to assume responsibility.

This is absurd. I am livid at every Trump voter. I am livid at every voter who opted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. And I am livid at every voter – 47 percent of them – who couldn't be bothered to vote on election day.

I fear for our country. We are much more vulnerable now. We will have a man making decisions who has the attention span of a toddler and doesn't like to read. His top advisors have never served in government. His cabinet, if confirmed, will work to undermine the very departments they will have been appointed to lead.

I can only hope – faint though it may be – that Republicans will finally put country over party and impeach this man who will be in violation of the Constitution from the moment he swears to protect and uphold our founding document. Even as he may have been colluding with Russia.

I do not want Mike Pence to be our president.

I want our country to hold a new election.

But in the meantime, I hope that too many lives will not be harmed.

My body knew.

As the evening wore on, the gnawing sense of dread gave way to actual shaking.

I held on to hope in spite of it, continued watching the returns, even as my mind whispered, "Remember 2004, when you thought that if you just stayed up late enough, John Kerry would prevail?"

About 12:30 a.m., I walked through the house and turned off the lights. I thought about 2008, as the economy began to implode and I lost my job.

Eight years later, I've held onto my house. And I've gotten out of some debt even as I've incurred others.


I have no idea what's next.

I've spent the last months and weeks and days reassuring my friends that Trump wouldn't win.

In 2008, I was sure McCain would lose.

In 2012, I was sure Romney would lose too.

So surely, in 2016, with the most reprehensible candidate imaginable on the ticket, America would make the upstanding choice.

And last I checked, a majority of us did.

But the popular vote does not decide our presidents.

I was opposed to McCain most of all for Sarah Palin. But at least Sarah has been a governor.

And I was opposed to Romney for a host of reasons. But I never had the sense that if he won, our country would be in danger.

That's what the shaking was last night, though: fear.

So much is now unknown. Will millions of people now lose their health care and once again be unable to afford insurance? Will some of them die as a result? Will women lose their rights to their own bodies? Will my gay friends' marriages be invalidated? Will my Muslim friends be safe? Will my Black friends be safe? Will the millions of Hispanic people who have built lives for themselves here be rounded up and housed in camps until their deportations can be processed? Will people with disabilities have access to care? Will the effects of climate change worsen more quickly? Will I have to pay tolls to travel on newly privatized roads? Will terrorist attacks occur more frequently? Will folks have money to live on who rely on Social Security and retirement savings that are invested in the stock market? Will we reverse so many of the jobs gains we've made in recent years? Will people once again begin to lose their homes? Will any of it matter in the face of a possible nuclear war?

I am immersed in politics, in the deepest end of the civilian pool. I know more than most. Some might say too much.

But did the people who vote for Trump or vote for Johnson or Stein not think of any of this?

My mind won't stop reeling even as the shaking has subsided into a tremble.

Tomorrow, I may be able to think more clearly.

Today, I'm numb.