Power and Character

It took me a while to decide what I wanted to write this weekend. This has been an eventful weekend that has meant so much to so many people. I’ve decided to write about my feelings.

I tweeted earlier that today (Sunday, November 8th, 2020) has been the best mental-health day I’ve had in 4 years. On one hand it’s true. On another hand it makes me sound mentally unstable. Let me explain.

For 4 years I’ve worried about Donald J Trump. Since the moment he was elected I’ve feared for America on both a personal and macro level. I knew in 2016 that whatever was ahead of us it wouldn’t be good.

And for four years I’d say things haven’t been good. We’ve seen the worst of America – the racists, the bigots, the hate, the illogic, the defiance of science, and the personality of cult. All of this seemingly emanating from Donald J Trump. On a logical level I know these horrible things have always been there – just below the surface in America. Like herpes. Sometimes you’d never know America had a problem and sometimes you could see it. Right there on our lip. But it was always there in some fashion.

I feel like Trump was an outbreak of herpes – to continue the metaphor: 4 years of lack of access to Valtrex. We could have been doing something about the problem but half of America didn’t see it as a problem at all. The herpes was part of our “character”.

The day after Trump’s win was announced in 2016 I went to work. I was there all of about 3 hours – most of which I spent under my desk mentally falling apart. I was living in Houston at the time and taking the bus ~6 miles to work. I decided since I wasn’t getting any work done I would go home. I started walking. I walked right past the bus stop. I remember it was a foggy icky day in Houston. Weather that matched my mental state. I decided to walk towards home to try to think. I walked to the next bus stop. And the next. And one mile turned into 2 miles and 2 miles turned into the full 6. I got home and I shut down. I was useless for the rest of the week.

This man. This horrible horrible man had power over me. He was affecting my life. How could someone so horrible be the most important person in America? America!? I spent, more or less, the next 4 years in this same fog that surrounded Houston that morning. Unclear what the Hell was going on.

At that point I had seen some horrible things come from Trump. I had seen him mock a disabled reporter. I had heard the Access Hollywood tapes. I had heard how he talked about the people he would soon be leading. It was unacceptable and yet, despite the popular vote, somehow this man would be the most important man in America. My brain broke.

I have to be honest. Trump’s power over me lasted the full 4 years he’s been in office. Nearly every day has had a mention of “can you believe what he tweeted now?”. Every evening involved heavy alcohol consumption and “therapy” with sister Maddow. We’ve had 4 years of a continued, nay – worsening, reality in America. We’ve been at war for 4 years.

One man had this power. No president is supposed to wield this kind of power. When I was young I didn’t think at all about “old man Bush”. I didn’t think twice about Clinton. I probably should have – his “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy greatly affected my life. I remember George W was the first time I thought about a president. I remember thinking “how did such a moron make it this far in life?”. Through many episodes of The Daily Show it was explained. But when 9/11 happened George W rose. He became the leader we all needed. He tried to bring unity.

Obama changed the world for me. I saw in Obama the world I’d always hoped for: one part Star Trek and one part after school special. There was an adult in the room. I fought hard for Obama and for 8 years I felt like he fought hard for me. Under Obama we killed the man responsible for 9/11. Under Obama we got marriage equality – allowing my now husband and I to marry. So many good things happened when we had an adult in the room.

And then came Trump and my whole world came crashing down. He had power over me. His twitter ranting. His incoherent sentence structure when he spoke. His utter disregard for anyone who’s last name wasn’t Trump (and even some who DID share that last name). It’s been awful. My Star Trek dreams are now 4 years retarded. 4 years delayed. 4 years discarded.

Nobody should have this power over me. I made it through these last 4 years thanks to my husband, Troy. He’s been a rock. He dismisses Trump and gets mad when I get upset about him. But this one man affects the lives of so many people (I would argue back).

This election year was important to me. America was at bat. We’d either swing for the fences and tell the world we are NOT Donald J Trump or we’d strike out and re-elect him – consequences be damned.

Yesterday morning word came that we hit a home run. I was in my office at home working and I broke down. It was the complete opposite of the breakdown I had 4 years ago in the fog. It was a beautiful sunny day in Houston this time and America had hope again. Joe Biden had been elected president. And even better: a mixed-race female Kamala Harris would be the Vice President.

I cried alot yesterday. I don’t cry. I’m generally not a crier. I cried alot yesterday.

America had said enough was enough. We’re back on track. I watched the celebrations all over America and cried. I watched news network reporters breaking down over relief and exhaustion. These reporters who had for 4 years been professionals FINALLY breaking down in relief and saying what was on their mind and I cried. I heard about Biden’s struggles and his losses over the years and I cried. I cried alot yesterday.

Then, as I was watching MSNBC they told the story of Parkland. It was a story I’d never heard before. Forgive me for not having the specifics but here’s the gist of it:

Biden went to the memorial service for those killed in the Parkland school shooting. He spoke at the service and as he finished he went to comfort the families of those who lost loved ones. All very standard politician affair.

Then Biden showed us who he was. As he turned to walk away the autistic son of a coach killed at the school rushed to Joe. He wanted to tell the Vice President that he was the son of the coach.

And Biden embraced him. He comforted him. He hugged him. He gave him a kiss on the forehead. He told him everything was going to be ok.

When someone shows you who they are believe them. This was Joe Biden. Go to YouTube and search “Biden Parkland” and you can’t miss the scene. I cried again. In fact, a day later as I write this I’m crying again.

This is power. And this is character.

What America needs right now is a Commander in Grief and Joe Biden is that man. I tweeted earlier today that today had been my best mental health day in 4 years because it’s the truth. Today we have hope. Today we have dignity. Today we have science. Today we have a path to equality and equity.

Today there is an adult in the room again.

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