Throughout my life with Michael, my rage was a frequent topic of conversation between us. He worried about my health. He also couldn’t understand how rage was my first line response to virtually any situation that I thought was unjust or morally reprehensible. Me neither. When I read an article or see a news story that rubs me the wrong way, I’m immediately furious. I can’t stand anything that smacks of unfair. And I start expressing myself right away, often with inflammatory statements or snide jabs. The frustration is unbearable for me. I’ve been living angry for as long as I can remember. Here we are, he wearing his history hat, standing in front of one of the icons of this country.
When he was alive, things were easier. He oozed some inexplicable sedative effect through his skin and when I was next to him, I eventually was able to defuse my all-consuming heat and function in a more reasonable frame of mind. But he’s not here now. So I have to find other ways to stop myself from spontaneously combusting.
I’ve visited this topic before on this site. I was devastated by Donald Trump’s election. Although not a devoted Hilary follower, I was looking forward to experiencing life with the first woman president. The future under her administration looked reasonable, if not the most perfect fit for some of my fringe views. Certainly she looked great compared to the ringmaster buffoonery of her opponent.
My family all watched the election returns together. As it became clear that what seemed impossible was going to become reality, our moods ranged from disbelief to despair. There was crying and wailing and attempts to maintain calm by Michael and me, who remembered living through other seemingly unsurvivable administrations. We were distraught too. And we had no idea that within weeks we’d be facing the end of Michael’s survival luck. Death was closing in on him. I’ve wondered many times if we would all have been able to manage our grief any better without the overarching dark cloud of Trump’s manic, unstable and over the top domination of the news cycle during those months. While I remained Michael’s medical advocate, as we spent those 32 days in the hospital with him undergoing barbaric last ditch treatment, when he was confused because of the cancer advancing in his brain, my children and I couldn’t take our eyes off the train wreck of the presidency. The young nurses and techs who got close to us, slipped into our room after their shifts ended, to discuss their disbelief in the seemingly endless flow of random decisions, crooked Cabinet members and tromping on widely held social values under the auspices of “making America great again.”
As I thought back on all my historical knowledge, all I heard were the echoes of fascist voices of the past. And watching those white supremacist haters come into the light was truly terrifying, although not surprising to me. There have always been groups meeting in the shadows and committing hate crimes. Trump’s presidency empowered their emergence into the light.
And while I struggled to give Michael his dying wishes, to have one last good day, to end his life in our home, I was stewing away with anger at the injustice of seemingly everything, watching Trump rapidly dismantling as many of Obama’s signature accomplishments as he could. Worrying constantly about the potential for a nuclear disaster, the denial of climate change and the rolling back of protections for clean air and water. The shocking racist attitudes and the incendiary commentary. I remember watching him say, look at my African-American over there during some speech and thinking, we’re in a time tunnel heading backwards at breakneck speed. Young black men are unsafe on our streets. An absolute horror. Lynching in the modern age. My list of furies could go on for pages but that’s not where I want to go with this piece.I know what I believe and I can back it up with historical reference. Today, I pondered the calamitous recent decisions of the sitting Supreme Court and what they will potentially do, especially if the smug hypocrite Mitch McConnell, who blocked an Obama appointee with glee, turns on his own argument and pushes a candidate through before the midterms. I went to my bedroom, my safe place where Michael’s presence feels particularly strong. I started scanning my bookshelves where the ones I love best remain, even after purging our library as I try to go minimalist. I found my beliefs there. The sham being perpetrated on Trump followers does not change what is real.
1) Trump is a racist. He is advocating returning to a time when whites dominated people of color. His attitude toward Hispanic people and Muslim people is appalling. The courts are curtailing voting rights, letting gerrymandering fall where it may and making it impossible for fair representation. He is reflective of the thieves who came to this country and wrested it from Native Americans. The white people who came here committed genocide and stole land. The survivors of that devastation were robbed of their culture and forced to be trained as knockoffs of their conquerors. Read a book. I think of the weary Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and share a few of his thoughts below.
“We did not know there were other people besides the Indian until about one hundred winters ago, when some men with white faces came to our country.”
2) As a country, we are moving toward oligarchy. The enormous economic gap between the 1% and everyone else grows larger every day. Trump admires and meets with dictators. He declares himself the only person who can make America great again. He is anti-labor and pro-ownership. That attitude is blatantly clear. Just listen to his speeches about what NFL owners should do to their players. Read some labor history. Yeah, I know all about the bad stuff associated with some unions. But you don’t scrap what made livable conditions for millions of people, unionists who bled for a reasonable work day, a fair wage and to not be owned by their company. Read about it. And think.
3) What about women’s struggles? Second class citizens since this country was conceived. Already there have been hard fought battles for fair pay, equal treatment under the law and control over their own bodies. And still, the struggle continues. Consider the #metoo movement. Still necessary in the 21st century. With an even more conservative Supreme Court, women’s rights, still far from just, are again in the sights of the patriarchy which as Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated, has kept its foot on women’s necks. My youth was spent watching friends who chose to have abortions leave this country or take terrible risks trying to get one here. I myself would never have wanted an abortion for a baby conceived while in a relationship. But had I been assaulted or alone, I might have thought differently. No matter what the circumstances, I can’t imagine trying to interfere with a woman’s right to choose. Now Roe v. Wade can again be in the crosshairs of those who believe they can dictate individual rights based on their own beliefs. The founders’ intent was to create a society of tolerance. Now, if you’re not in a certain religious or political club, you run the risk of having your beliefs rammed down your throat. I can only imagine what those people who wrote the constitution would think of how it’s been twisted for the convenience of a privileged minority. And how do I even begin to imagine the fragility of the LGBTQ community which daily stares down prejudice and hatred?
I think it’s everyone’s responsibility to speak out about what’s going on in this dystopian new culture in which more government employees have been fired, charged with crimes and cheated the American public in what is basically the blink of an eye. I share a quote from George Washington which still rings true today.
I intend to stay vocal and loud. I intend to share my views with the people who ostensibly represent my interests in Washington. I will sign petitions, donate money to worthy organizations and march when my knees can manage it. I will not be quiet because times feel desperate. These times require people to dig deep and not let themselves be cowed by all the media noise. I don’t choose to lose my personal power and strength to this crowd of bullies. I watched my husband have his life stolen by cancer. He tried to thwart that bully every step of the way for over five years. Certainly, when I can see what’s right in front of me, I would be a coward to just let it all happen while I stand mute, watching these dreadful changes which will affect my children and grandchildren’s lives. Nope. I refuse. If you don’t like what I have to stay, exercise your right and don’t read my posts. I’m in charge of this space.