Saturday, November 12, 2016

Our New Reality

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. 
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My new reality: that Awful Man is my President-elect.

And make no mistake, to me he truly is an Awful Man. But folks, unless I move to another country and renounce my U.S. citizenship, the Awful Man is going to be my President.

There are countless essays, written by people far more qualified than I am, which attempt to explain the social science and politics of how and why this happened. I want to believe that the Russians messed with the polls, but no. "Rigged" is not part of our vocabulary. We believe in our country. We take comfort in the popular vote, but still we must stomach that close to half of the Americans who voted chose that Awful Man. 

I went to work on Tuesday wearing an optimistic glow and a white pantsuit. I went to work on Wednesday draped in black, tear-swollen and fragile. I felt as if I were a lone woman of color, wearing a burka in a men's Bible study class at a Southern Baptist church. How could I face the fact that these people who mean the world to me had voted for that Awful Man?  The county where I live voted for him by a 2:1 margin. I imagined smugness in my friends' expressions and I felt like I was in the wrong place. The entire world was the wrong place.

Now, I'm experiencing another dismay. I read of violent protests and I wail, "No!" I read people encouraging the Democrats in Congress to be every bit as obstructionist as the Republicans were under President Obama, and I want to scream, "We are BETTER than that!" I see swastikas and KKK marches and black Freshmen targeted at Penn and I wonder in what alternate world I'm living and I want to do something. But what?

If I believe in America, and I do, then I must act like an American. We who supported President Obama and Secretary Clinton would be wise to listen to their advice. DO SOMETHING! Don't post yet another inflammatory photo or meme, which accomplishes nothing but to create more division and angst and depression and anger. 

Face it. We have been a lazy people. We have been content to bloviate on our pages and let Fox News propagandize to their hearts' content. We've allowed the gerrymandering to continue Willy O'Nilly. And we are paying dearly now. But rather than sinking to the Republican leaders' destructive levels, let's rally and act like Americans.

If we feel that the Electoral College system is no longer the best, after studying how it works and why it was instituted, then we should press our elected officials to do something about it during the upcoming legislative session. Not now. Studying about the Electoral College is nowhere near as much fun as liking an outrageous meme on Facebook. But we have become illiterate in our laziness, haven't we? Even though information is easier than ever to access, do we educate ourselves?

Let's organize and WORK to put an end to gerrymandering. We have allowed it to steal our legitimate voting power like a proverbial rug being ripped out from under us. We sit baffled on our collective butts with our eyes doing cartoon whirligigs. Why have we allowed this? Because we are ignorant and lazy and content to tsk-tsk-tsk without doing a damn thing? 

We need to support effective leadership. Let's coalesce behind Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and find out what they need US to do. How long has it been since we asked what we could do for our Country and then actually did it? Let's serve on committees at the local levels; heck let's FORM committees if none exist. 

This is what this horrible election has accomplished: we have learned a great deal. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, sexism, greed, and fear are endemic. They are part of the human condition. Perhaps we didn't know the extent to which they thrive; or perhaps we knew, but we didn't want to face it. 

We didn't appreciate the alienation and dismay felt by rural America. We have ignored their poverty, their opioid addiction, their dismal lack of education and opportunity, They wave their flags and stand with hands appropriately over their hearts, proud of their patriotism all the while decrying the Government as evil and elitist and crooked. What is America, what is this country, if not its Government? A People without an effective, representative government is lost. 

We need to make our Government represent us again. We can't do that by posting memes. We need to get off our complacent coccyx and work. We need to get the damned corporations out of our elected officials' pockets. We need to volunteer. We need to write letters. We need to be heard. We need to invest time - and money - where our passions lie.

I belong to three secret groups on Facebook where people feel safe in discussing their politics. I understand the need for these groups, but if the only way we discuss our nation's policies is in secret with like-minded folks, how do we ever find common ground? How could we possibly work together to accomplish anything? How do we make our elected officials, the folks who are supposed to work for all of their constituents be accountable?

Let us follow the words of President Obama, whom many of us believe to have been one of the best this nation has ever elected.

"That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time."
We live in a country where we do have choices. We can choose to be violent. We can choose peaceful protest in the face of injustice. We can choose to sit and complain on our computers.

Or we can get to work.


  1. This is most excellent, Madame Renzulli. I think so many folks (myself among them) are grasping for memes and safety pins because we are too frightened to do anything else. We must have courage. Thanks for the wake-up call.

    1. Thank you. We must not succumb to fear, or we lose every single thing.

  2. Yes, you did write. You're baaaack! Excellent piece.

  3. So glad to her your voice on this. It is hard, so hard, but we can't just curl up in the fetal position and hope it will all turn out OK. That Tuesday proud and happy woman in the white pant suit is the one I shall think of during the next stressful times.


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