January 22, 2017
Really, is it 2017 already? I’ll be sixty in October. Weird.
I’ve been in a tizzy since the election. It’s part of why I haven’t been able to update this blog in so long. Sorry for all who read this. There were lots of other things to talk about, and I hope to catch up soon. But we had the inauguration of a new president two days ago, and I need to write about how I feel.
I already said I’d be sixty in October, so any who read this can guess at when I was born. Yep, you got it, 1957. I graduated from high school in 1975. I was just beginning to take an interest in politics when the Watergate scandal hit the scene. I remember it pretty well, all the stories, all the disgust and disgrace. It colored my perceptions of politics, specifically politicians from that time forward. Until, 2008.
For me, I believed all politicians were crooks or idiots. Maybe both. I believed that nobody could climb to the highest office in the nation, maybe the entire world, without stepping on anyone and anything, and without having to lose all sense of morality and decency. And my feelings were further cemented by the antics of President Clinton when he was in the office. Yes, I nodded sagely to myself. See, they’re all crooked or full of nothing but garbage, no values at all. And please note, a Republican president started me on that path of belief, and a Democrat helped it become entrenched. I truly never dreamed I’d believe in a president. And then came, 2008. And I believed, believed hard, believed absolutely.
Barack Obama changed my mind, my heart, my whole self. He was young; he was dynamic; he was an orator like none other, and he made my long-dormant political interest come alive. It filled me and swept over me, and I’ve never been the same. When he spoke of hope and change, I was ecstatic. When he said, “Yes we can!” I wanted to run up and down the streets proclaiming it to the world. I donated to his campaign, since working fulltime and with my other disabilities, energy being low, didn’t make me the best candidate for organizing and calling and knocking on doors. But I wanted to help somehow.
When he was elected I laughed and cried with joy. When he was inaugurated, I wept with happiness and the wonder that in my lifetime, I got to see an African-American become president. I’m white as white can be, but I remember the marches and speeches in the sixties. I remember Martin Luther King Jr. I remember his death and the death of John and Bobby Kennedy. I remember how much I wanted to be able to march for civil rights and march against the war in Vietnam. So, middle-aged, white as white can be me, I rejoiced with the election of a black man as president. And I believed.
Of course, it wasn’t all rosy and glorious during the eight years President Obama was in office. He’s only human, and had a Congress that often worked against him. But I watched him try with everything he had. I watched him lead us into a better world than we had before. I watched as he never gave up trying to turn our hope into real change. And I never stopped believing.
In November 2016, when my country elected a man who boasts about sexual assault toward women, mocks people with disabilities, wants to ban an entire religion, and undo everything president Obama accomplished, I had a literal panic attack. I was depressed and frightened for weeks, still am. And on Friday night, after that person was inaugurated, I broke down and cried as I had not cried in a very long time. (There were other reasons why I cried, but the inauguration made my world and life seem bleaker than it had in a very long time.) I was and am afraid. How much serious damage can he do in four years? Not just undoing President Obama’s legacy, but taking us backward into years of bigotry and loss of freedom and rights for all people. I am scared. I want to pull the covers over my head and sleep for the next four years. And this time, I don’t believe, not in anything good or positive or hopeful for my country or my life in the next four years. Will the Americans with disabilities act still exist in 2020? When he nominates a woman for Secretary of education who has never heard of the ADA, what hope does that bring for disabled children, or for we disabled adults? What will happen to people of other races, religions, nationalities, women, gays, what will happen to us as a country? Will we even be able to recognize us as the United States of America? What will happen to the First amendment? You know, freedom of speech, of religion and the Press? His team is already setting spin into motion, claiming they have “alternate facts” from what the media states, as in the media’s photos of empty stands at the inauguration, while the new team swears it was biggest crowd ever. Alternate facts? Lies.
No, I don’t believe. I fear and tremble.
I will miss President Obama. I wish I could shake his hand and thank him for the hope he gave me, thank him for being the one politician who could make me believe, and who never did anything to cause my belief to falter. I don’t know what I can do, but I will do all I can to hold up your legacy and to fight to sustain it and to continue to make things better for all of us, no matter our position or station in life. I will try to keep the dream alive and not to give up in despair. I will work to keep the hope and change alive. I am afraid, but I will never give in to tyranny, and I’ve yet to give into fear and despair. Thank you for making me care enough to try.
Thank you President Obama. As long as there are people like you out there, fighting for the betterment of all, I will still believe.