Yesterday was really, really hard. We’d watched the election results the night before until a little after midnight, with new friends – three expats and two Mexicans – drinking and first, ready to celebrate, then, sick to our stomachs.
Yesterday morning, Robbie woke up at 6:30 and got to work writing about the record low the peso had hit, about the impact of this news on the Mexican economy. I couldn’t get myself out of bed. Finally I offered to make breakfast, and I stared at the eggs and avocado for twenty minutes – I couldn’t figure out how they were supposed to come together into something good. Then I fried the eggs, and cut the avocado, and ate it, and saw on my yoga studio’s schedule a 10:30am restorative yoga class, and felt like that was the only thing I could do that would make any sense. When I got there, the receptionist said the class hadn’t begun and not quite understanding, I said, okay, I’ll wait. She said no, they weren’t yet offering the class. I stumbled out the door, found a bench to sit on, and cried. And took myself back home, where I alternated between crying and meditating and checking Facebook and making hot chocolate and feeling like someone or something had died. I knew I needed that day to mourn. My dad texted this to all of us, which I then posted on Facebook, and the response reminded me that writing is an important tool and a way to get through things, and that I need to figure out how to actually harness the power of the pen for good. Here’s what he said:
“The first thing is just to share that we have been here before, or at least to places that were similarly scary and demoralizing that made us feel really alone in this country.
The second thing is that we got through those times, and people came together because of it, and good things happened unexpectedly, at different levels of life and government and society.
I felt this way when Reagan was elected. An actor and caricature focused on dismantling progressive gains from prior generations. When I was growing up in Berkeley, he was Governor saying horrible things about student demonstrators. We had a poster with a picture of him and a quote that fit him perfectly, but the quote was from Hitler about student unrest. As president he went on camera and joked about sending nuclear bombs to Russia. He was really scary and it was really hard to be around relatives who had voted for him.
And Reagan, for all his flaws, made progress with relations with Russia, which had to be made to save life on Earth from nuclear destruction.
And there was Nixon. Totally paranoid and all about revenge and enemies with a really fragile ego and no compunction about breaking the law to get even with people on his list of enemies.
He was the scariest of all of the characters in terms of his fragile ego and vindictiveness and lawlessness. At the time, we had been through generations of China being an enemy that we as a people had no understanding of or human connection to and they loomed, together with Russia, as great threats to the continued safety and peace and life on this fragile planet. For all his terrible and unforgivable flaws, Nixon reached out to China and made connections, and peace and Americans began to see Chinese in a different way.
And, now, the thing about Trump that we should realize is that, for all the horrible and hateful things he has said and done, its not clear whether he has any commitment to the things he has said in order to get elected. He was never a right wing republican. He was barely a NY liberal republican. The fact that he only really cares about himself and his ego may open the door for him to do unexpected things, like Reagan and Nixon, that could not have been done by more liberal and sane politicians.
I will not be surprised if he ends up doing much more liberal things than any of his republican counterparts, like Ted Cruz, would have done. He is not a social conservative, and those folks were scary. He is not a fiscal conservative trying to shut down government, and that would be scary. He may take on big projects that put a lot of people to work. Not just the wall. And he may be able to get away with doing more of that than Obama did.
None of this is to say that I am hopeful that Trump will be a positive force overall. Nixon was not, Reagan was not, baby Bush was not. But, none of them were as completely bad and horrible as it seemed that they would be at the time. The clouds did have silver linings. And life went on.”
I’m feeling a little better today, a little more ready to get to work. But it’s strange that this isolating, pit-of-the-stomach feeling of a hateful bigot becoming president is making me miss home.