Complacencies of the peignoir, but no coffee and oranges in a sunny chair. Instead, a series of text messages from a girl I’d met the day before, insisting that I have a good morning in the brightest way possible. But there was nothing she could do about the fact that Donald J. Trump was going to be our nation’s next President.
Not that I was all that concerned about all that. Not yet, at least. If you go back five or six months, back when a guy named Bernie Sanders was still competing for the Democratic nomination, and he’d won some big states like Michigan and Washington, and had taken Hillary Clinton to a virtual tie in Iowa, it never occurred to me that we’d be facing the inauguration of someone who calls Mexican rapists, who brags about wandering into pageant dressing rooms just to see the contestants in a state of undress, who took a loan from his father and turned it into much less than a simple investment at the average of return of an S&P 500 fund would have brought him, all the while failing to pay contractors but still ending up in multiple bankruptcies.
Back then, I thought that the Democratic Party was a liberal organization. I didn’t realize that they were just as corporately contrived as their Republican counterparts. But I learned, as the primaries wore on, that there was no way that a candidate who promised to double the minimum wage, turn expenditures on war into an investment in college education for our nation’s youth who qualified academically, and suggest peaceful outcomes for those conflicts that have killed far too many of our military personnel since our neverending war against terror (but now against decency, shredding our own moral fiber in the process) began in 2001.
So when Hillary Clinton ended up with the nomination, I slightly turned my back on the nomination. The only part of that bizarre Democratic Convention that I watched was Bernie’s speech, which the DNC hacks pushed from prime time to the end of that Tuesday night, and you could just see how sad Bernie was not to have that nomination, you could see him grit his teeth as he told us how great the Hillary Clinton whom he had earlier branded has unqualified would now be as President because she wasn’t Donald Trump.
So Bernie’s reluctance became my own. But I never thought that Trump would emerge with all 270 of those electoral votes he needed.
But he did. Pennsylvania went from a +30% margin for Clinton to a Trump state, once all those Democrats in Philly had their votes counted, followed by all of those conservatives out west, angered by Clinton’s earlier support of NAFTA and TPP, perhaps angered by her gender, and seduced by Trump’s promise to drop out of TPP and renegotiate the terms of NAFTA and, somehow, restore all those manufacturing jobs back onto American soil.
So when the day after Election Day dawned, we faced the victory of one Donald J. Trump. I thought to myself, well, now we’ll get a really progressive Congress in 2018.
But then I went to work, and I’m a teacher in a highly Hispanic district, so I saw many many kids who were now afraid of what might happen to (depending on the kid) their parents, themselves, their relatives, people they knew, friends, and the like. One of my friends at work happens to be gay, and I heard from him the horror of the idea that 59 million Americans — people who are supposed to believe in life liberty the pursuit of happiness — voted for a man who threatened to roll back marriage equality now that he was a Republican, and also had issued forth some of the most hateful words towards ethnic minorities and women during the campaign that anyone had ever said at all.
Then I thought, oh. Shit.
So when another friend suggested that we form a protest in downtown Dallas, I thought, hell, someone’s already thought of this, so I googled “Trump protest Dallas” and found that others had already had this idea. I texted him back.
Then, remember that girl who texted me this morning? Turns out she supported Trump. But I still didn’t see the horror of what this election brought to others who are not me, who are not white, straight, male, Protestant, legal citizens.
That didn’t hit me in full until I got downtown. Then I heard from people who woke up to learn about an impending Trump Administration. Some of them didn’t know if their marriages would remain legal. Some didn’t know how long they would be allowed to stay in the US. Some didn’t know if they would be attacked because they weren’t white. Some didn’t know if they wouldn’t be forced to wear a special badge because they were Muslim.
How did we get here? The goddess Justice is supposed to be blind, so that she remains fair. There’s nothing on the Statue of Liberty that says, “unless you’re white” or “unless you believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.”
But you wouldn’t know that today. Because all those evangelical Christians turned out for Trump. Because Hillary and Bill Clinton decided to turn the Democratic Party into their own personal fucking ATM, ripping it away from its base, which means that they simply assumed that the poor of the nation would keep voting for them because they always had, even though the policies they suggested for the nation would do more for the Clintons’ corporate friends than the nation’s most vulnerable. Because Donald Trump seized on the economic fears of the most vulnerable and convinced enough of them that it was the immigrants, the aliens, the Muslims that were the cause of the nation’s woes to elect him to protect them from all of those phantom menaces.
So, as my friend and I listened to speaker after speaker, and then as we marched through the night, hearing the pain of protest around us, I remembered something that Bernie Sanders said at a rally I attended with my children.
“Let us understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together, we win.”
But then we marched out into the night. The Dallas police were considerate of us as peaceful protesters, at least at first. But then when it became clear that we wanted to cross over a bridge into downtown, a few police cruisers became a dozen. Then came a couple of SWAT vans. Never mind that we were armed with posters, cell phones and outrage — and nothing more. That didn’t stop some of them from donning military helmets and brandishing assault rifles when it became clear that it was time for us to head back to the arena where we started.
The march was beautiful. Cries against hate. Cries for tolerance. Cries for acceptance.
Cries against Trump.
And the oppressors noticed us. Some people had dirty toilet water dumped on them. Residents of a giant high-rise next to the American Airlines Center tossed eggs down on us. Change and confrontation make people uncomfortable, angry, ridiculous. But that doesn’t mean that we can stop now.
So later, my friend and I happened into a bar where a very earnest (and very sincere) person told us that the free market would save us all. I tried to tell him that the free market brought us the Great Depression, but he just smiled and told me he was a capitalist idealist.
So I had another beer. Then a girl who called herself JFK came up and kissed us all.
But there’s still a lot of work to do. Even if Clinton had won, the work would have been huge. But now it’s monumental.