We haven’t talked politics since Clinton’s Presidency. But on November 9th, 2016, I desperately needed common ground, and surprisingly, so did he.
He had been a reluctant supporter of Trump, he explained, sounding almost as stunned as I was by the results. “But I really think he wants to do a good job,” he said, encouraging himself.
What I really wanted to talk about was how I felt—as a woman—to have my fellow citizens elect this man, but there was no common ground between us in this regard so accustomed was he to a lifetime of privilege unimaginably denied to his six daughters (and to the most qualified woman around.)
I remember where I was when the conversation turned to unemployement and Bernie–standing in front of the window in the living room, the one that looks out to the woods beyond the stonewall. But I don’t remember seeing anything outside.
I’d faced East that morning when my husband woke me with the news.
Silently, I stepped in front of the balcony door in our upstairs bedroom (a balcony we haven’t yet afforded putting on, like the porch and the patio) looking out at the stone wall and the path and the Beech tree which still held its leaves.
“Remember when a single income provided for the kids, a car and a house, even for blue-collar workers?” I said.
My father did remember because he and his parents and their parents lived it.
More than two years have passed, and we haven’t talked politics since.
Slowly, ever so slowly, those I love who voted unthinkably are coming around, but it’s hard to imagine that many will have the courage to face the impact their choice has inflicted on so many. Hearts. Minds. Lives.
Societies with the greatest income inequality suffer the most no matter the GDP.
Employment that doesn’t “provide” is not only disheartening and dispiriting, but destructive.
Our nation’s fortune has relied on “others” for too long.
Those “others” include women upon whom we lay the greatest burden of unpaid labor (in the home and in our communities) and who when additionally employed, are paid less for the same job.
“Remember the ladies,” wrote Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband in 1776, urging the Continental Congress to “be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”
John Adams and later their son John Quincy Adams went onto become President, neither remembering the ladies.
Older women are disproportionately impoverished in this nation of equals, alarmingly so, immorally so, no matter their marital status; while men, statistically, are not only richer but healthier and happier with a wife.
The ”others” upon which their good fortune depends include not only their mothers and wives, but all those who have less—less opportunity, less education, less income, less voice, less power.
Imagine the courage it takes to face that.
Like the undocumented immigrants that our President employs at his establishments while holding our country hostage for a wall, it’s easier to live as if our success is ours alone.
We use “others” and then blame and judge and deride them for being used without recognizing how much we benefit from the exchange and how in return we all lose.
“Droves of Dems Jam Road to 2020,” reads the headline.
And more than ever, I tell my boys:
“You can be anything! Look who is President.”
My intention is to free them of any limiting thoughts, but my addendum is also this:
“You can be anything especially if you’re male, rich, white, deceitful and inhumane.”
I hope that what all boys glean from this imposter President is the privilege so many take for granted and the atrocities that others have endured.
JAM the road?
How about DEFINE the road for 2020, giving voice to that which has been ignored underfoot for too long.
No matter the party, may our choices in the next election reflect the best of this nation rather than our darkest natures.
A two-women progressive ticket with at least one of those women from an additionally underrepresented population is my wish.