I haven’t watched the news since Tuesday night.
I deactivated my Facebook account, deleted my Twitter apps.
I’m not going to go so far as to say I’m depressed because I know that’s a real thing that I don’t want to belittle, but perhaps shell-shocked is an appropriate turn of phrase. I feel like Tom Hanks on the beach at Normandy, watching people stagger all around him. But this is reality.
Wednesday morning I had to tell my two girls that if they worked hard in school, and were good students, and well-educated, and well prepared, and kind, and good friends, and good people, and continued to treat everyone with respect and understanding that they could grow up to be nothing at all like the President of the United States.
But, the world didn’t stop. The alarm went off. School had to be attended. Laundry had to be done. The mechanisms of life continued ticking along.
As someone with a fondness for analogies, I’m loathe to compare the election results to a terrorist attack, but if I’m being honest with myself (a goal I’ve always had here), that’s what it felt like strictly in terms of not knowing what life will be like now. And I say that as someone who’s perhaps more insulated from the ramifications of Trump, the Country than most.
Things are going to be very different. This wasn’t Clinton vs. Rubio or Clinton vs. Bush, where the stakes were tenths of a percent in a tax bracket, or the specific machinations of keeping Social Security solvent. This was the starkest possible choice, not between two sets of policies, but two visions of America. Unfortunately, it seems that John Edwards’ “Two Americas” was a much more accurate assessment than Barack Obama’s “No Red States, No Blue States.”
I started studying politics seriously in 1994.
I got my first political job in 1998.
I think that’s enough time. Looking back on all the arguments, and e-mails, and debates, and time spent elbow-deep in the stuff seems wasted now. I did it because I enjoyed it, and I was pretty good at it, but the time when both of those things were true is again, if I’m being honest, a long ways in the past.
So, in the face of overwhelming evidence that I know nothing anymore, and that the rules and norms of politics that I have studied and worked with and immersed myself in are now completely vaporized, it’s time, I think, to get back to basics. A farm-to-table version of political life.
Eight years of a decent, dignified president and family in the White House has made a lot of us lose sight of the fact that not only is all politics local, but life is as well. The president may be able to set the tone of our government, but he cannot control how we individually participate in social politics. How we are as people. How we act as communities.
One of the single biggest fallacies perpetuated throughout this election was that America was broken and had to be rebuilt. That remains a heaping pile of bullshit. But perhaps it is time that we recalibrated who exactly is in charge of the tone of our social politics. It’s us. Individually. As families. As communities. As neighborhoods. As cities and towns.
We don’t have to take our cues from him. There are still more of us than there are of them. It’s time to prove to those who tell us that government is weak in comparison to the people that they’re right.