A Shithole Presidency

It’s been almost a year since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, and it’s as bad as I (and virtually every other Democrat) thought it would be.  I have never been as angry, frightened, dismayed, embarassed or appalled by events and people outside of my personal life as I have been in the past year. What is being done in Washington by this administration can only be characterized as a malpractice of government on an unimaginable scale.

I have watched as the administration has fundamentally gone to war on our own government.  They are actively seeking to dismantle the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency via budget and personnel cuts.  The mission of the Interior Department to protect our public lands is being undercut by a secretary eager to cater to corporate interests seeking even greater profit. The Education Department is rescinding policies to protect LGBT students from discrimination and college students from being ripped off by for-profit ‘colleges’.  Hundreds of essential government positions are going unfilled due to the administration’s inability to either a) find competent people or b) find people willing to be blindly loyal to Donald Trump.

I have watched, horrified, as the President has insulted our friends internationally, while simultaneously cozying up with the likes of Erdogan in Turkey, El-Sisi in Egypt, and Duterte in the Phillippines.  And as the investigations into the Russian interference in our elections continues, he has resolutely refused to utter either a word of criticism of Vladimir Putin or take any actions to protect our elections the next time around.

I have watched as the President has refused to be transparent about his finances, refused to divest himself of his holdings, appointed his unqualified daughter and son-in-law to advisory positions in his White House, denigrated the actual White House ( “a real dump”), and vacationed almost one-third of his first year, costing the US government more in one year than President Obama’s vacations in eight years. Couple this with his cabinet secretaries’ penchants for private jet travel (Mnuchin, Zinke, Pruitt, Shulkin), round-the-clock security (Pruitt), and the continued administration efforts to appoint unqualified candidates for government jobs, and the slogan ‘drain the swamp’  is shown to be nothing but empty words.

I have watched as incidents of hate crimes have exploded.  I listened as the President of the United States stated that ‘fine people’ were marching with Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville; I watched as the President campaigned for Roy Moore, an accused sexual predator and child molester, as he ran for the Senate in Alabama; and last evening, as I checked in with the Washington Post before going to sleep, I saw this headline:  “Trump attacks protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries”.  This morning, I heard a news report about how thrilled Trump is by the controversy his racist remarks are creating.

I made a conscious decision last year to not share much of my ‘disturbed about the government’ feelings with most of my friends on Facebook, because I don’t actually enjoy arguing with people. My awareness of broad support for Trump within the law enforcement community was also a large factor in that decision.  Nobody wants to be a pariah.  However, while I will always be a part of that community, and have the utmost respect for those who continue to do that difficult job, I feel that I am being dishonest to both myself and my conservative friends if I continue to keep my views to myself.

I fully realize that I am just one voice, but from now on, I will be speaking at full volume.

Not My Burden

Almost every day now, there is a new story in the media about sexual assault and harassment.  People, and so far, exclusively male people, in a whole raft of industries and professions, are being outed as sexual predators who have abused their power for their own sexual gratification.  Potentially criminal incidents involving under-age teens in both professional and educational environments are being exposed.  These people are being accused of sexually harassing, molesting, and assaulting colleagues and subordinates.  I applaud the courage of the women and men who are speaking out, telling their stories and speaking their truths.  It is a hard thing to do, and it is long overdue, because predators like these have always been among us.

I weep as I type those words.

Through the wonder of Facebook, I am back in contact, both online and in real life, with a number of people with whom I went to high school.  I am enjoying renewing these friendships, and getting to know these people as adults.  I  attended a class reunion recently, and had lovely times at both a pre-reunion party, and the reunion itself.  But when one of these high school friends shared her opinion that our youth in Bethel was ‘sheltered’.  I could only nod, because there was just too much for me to say.  I am truly happy for my friend, that she felt sheltered.  I am glad for her, that this is her truth.  My truth is rather different, and I would not wish it upon anyone.

I tell my story now because what is happening in the public sphere has helped me realize that the burden of shame is not mine.  That burden is on the predator’s shoulders. Predators seek out the vulnerable.  I think it’s important to shine as many lights, in as many dark corners of the past and present as we possibly can. I do not name this person, however, because he can no longer hurt anyone, and I have no wish to harm by association any of his family.

I tell my story  now, because, quite obviously, that high school reunion stirred up a great many old memories.  My story is also about how I came to be vulnerable.  However, I seek only to paint a general picture, not to throw specific stones at any individual.  Time, distance, and middle-aged memory prevent that, and that is fine.

And finally, I tell my story because I am sure that I am not the only one from this era with a story.  I am probably not the only student molested by this teacher.  I also know of at least one other faculty predator and a student predator.  I have heard rumors of yet a third faculty predator.  I cannot tell their stories, only my own. But I believe their stories, because of my own.

 

My childhood was difficult for a number of reasons – a difficult, unsettled home life involving multiple divorces, alchohol abuse, several school changes, and an undiagnosed parental mental illness.  That is the Reader’s Digest condensed version.  So for all of the reasons listed above, school, when I was younger, was something of a refuge.  It also helped that I was smart.  I liked to learn.  I thought algebra was fun.  I loved to read – novels, history, mysteries.  I loved language.

When my mom moved our family back to Bethel in 1969,  we (my mom & my two younger sisters) moved in with my mom’s parents, and I entered the Bethel school system in the sixth grade.  I don’t have any bad memories from middle school.  I remember making friends, going on school outings, enjoying my classes.  Home life remained periodically difficult, but that was my normal.

Many things changed in 1971.  In the fall, I entered high school.  And over the course of the previous year, I had changed physically, growing a pair of breasts that had no business being on the body of a 12-year old girl.  My initial training bras were swiftly overwhelmed and I began to attract attention I was ill-equipped to deal with.  I recall learning to avoid the front of the school during lunch, where the older boys taught their younger brethren how to harass, choosing to yell at me, “It is Balloons!” in a loud chorus.  Please allow me to repeat – I was 12 years old.  Even now, at 58, I am still taken aback by the thoughtless cruelty.

I added to my own difficulties when a popular boy in my class asked me to meet him behind the school one day.  We engaged in what what was known then as ‘necking’ and ‘petting’.  It was all consensual.  I, quite frankly, had been surprised and thrilled that this boy had any interest in me.  After a while, we got up from the field we had been lying in, and went our seperate ways.  I recall no words of affection.  So, what I had naively hoped was someone being interested in me was just someone interested in my body. Regrettably, I was willing to accept this and a pattern was begun.  What I did not anticipate was that details of what I thought was a private encounter would be made public.  The word apparently went round that I was ‘easy’.  Other boys expressed interest, and I had other encounters in out of the way places,  fumbling and unsatisfying, and my ‘reputation’ was cemented.  I had no adult either paying close attention, or available for advice as to how to navigate this world.

What turned out to be an equally damaging repercussion of my affection-seeking was finding myself unexpectedly ostracized by most of my girlfriends.   Inevitably, word of my behavior had gotten round to them.  I recall going to a slumber party, and being asked, during the late-night conversations, if I had done various things with boys.   I remember being asked what this or that felt like.  I thought I was with my friends, and I answered their questions as best as I could.  I guess I didn’t really think, even at that time, that I had done anything wrong.  In any event, I can only surmise that the information I shared was too much.  I try to remember now that they were very young, too.  I don’t recall how I became aware that my friends were now my former friends, but it seemed very sudden.  I do remember a painful conversation with a couple of them at lunch,  when I asked what I had done wrong.  I don’t remember the answer, only that I was left feeling hurt, confused, and terribly alone.

Eventually, I made new friends, who I remember fondly, but not many, and I think I was probably more reserved with them.  I never quite fit in with any of the groups that teens break off into.  Eventually, in my senior year, I acquired a steady boyfriend, a sophomore who made me laugh and had no knowledge of my first years in high school.  Mostly, though, I was isolated, hiding in a faculty office/prep room when I wasn’t in class, trying to avoid unwanted attention from male students. But I was noticed, by a faculty predator.

Both lack of memory and nausea preclude sharing of a lot of detail.   I don’t recall how it began. I don’t recall how many encounters there were.  I don’t remember where the places he drove us to, so he could grope me, were.  I don’t remember how I finally stopped it.  I remember him telling me to tell my mother I was babysitting for him, which now indicates to me that he was practiced at this.  I was probably not his first prey, and I do not know if I was his last.  He was aware of my age, 16, and took care to not go beyond what kissing and fondling I would allow.  I’m aware now of my own passivity in the whole experience.  I am so sad now for the girl I was, and her acceptance of a predator’s attentions.

I’m not sure how to end this tale.  As I proofread, trying to be as accurate and truthful as possible,  I find that while I am sad, I am also peaceful.  I have shared this story with so very few people, but there is relief in making public what was hidden.  I was not sheltered in my youth.  But I chose to use my damage and my hurt to help me become stronger.   I chose to pursue a professional life of service, so that I might help and protect others who could not help or protect themselves.  And I choose to speak now, so that my voice might be part of the greater chorus against those who would abuse their positions of power and trust.  I know I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Believe I Have To Say This

I generally try to avoid stating obvious things, things that everyone knows. But after over a week of listening to and reading what others are saying, stating obvious things appears necessary.  So, here goes : Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists in general, are bad people. Furthermore, the people who march with Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists are ALSO bad people. EVERY LAST GODDAMN ONE OF THEM. Good people do NOT support the subjugation, if not outright elimination, of other people based on skin color. There is NOT ‘blame on many sides’.  The President is wrong. Terribly, irrevocably wrong.  The only reasonable response to Nazis, etc. marching in our streets is to protest against them. Everywhere. In the streets, on social media, and in ordinary conversations.  When 500 Nazis, etc., marched in Charlottesville, 1,000 people came out to march against them.  When a few dozen ‘free speech’ advocates (aka Nazis) decided to rally in Boston, 40,000 people turned out to counter-protest. May each and every one of the counter-protesters be blessed.

I am saddened beyond measure at what I see and hear from people seeking to justify their positions. I saw links to articles claiming that actors were hired in droves to make up the crowds of counter-protestors. I saw a claim that the counter-protesters incited that Nazi sympathizer to murder Heather Heyer and injure 19 others. I heard the president claim that the torch-carrying mob of angry white people chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ also included quiet, peaceful history buffs, anxious about the removal of public art.  In short, I heard and saw people who should know better spew unadulterated bullshit in mass quantities.

While I am not a historian, I have a broad enough working knowledge of world history to state that the last time we, as a nation, had occasion to fight the Nazis, we were, for the most part, united in that fight. There was one group that was reluctant, as I recall. That group was made up of people who believed in the credo, “America First”. Sound familiar?

My New Job – Citizen Brooks

I’ve always enjoyed thinking of myself as well-informed. I have for many years enjoyed settling in on a Sunday morning with my coffee (always with my coffee) and not 1, not 2, but 3 newspapers.  The nice Roger goes out and gets them while I make the coffee, offload the dishwasher, and make sure that there is bacon thawed to accompany our omelets later. When he brings the papers home, I go through them first, removing all the advertising inserts (these are saved for a coupon-clipping family member), recycling the sections we don’t read (neither of us cares for the sports pages), and distributing our preferred starters to our respective perches in the living room. He gets the News-Times and Parade magazine, I get the comics from the News-Times, the NY Daily News, the NY Times, and we settle in for a quite a while.

I read the comics first. This is a tradition that goes back to my childhood. My parents were divorced, and Sunday was the day my sister, Sheryl, and I spent with our father, and eventually, our stepmother and younger sisters and brothers. Dad would pick us up, along with two Sunday papers (the local and the NY Daily News), and take us home.  The comics were shared amongst us all eventually as we traded pages back and forth. To this day, although we don’t get a daily paper, I still read (online) over 50 comic strips on an almost daily basis. They provide me with warmth, humor, art, and some of the best socio-political commentary available, in 3 or 4 pithy panels.  Roger doesn’t much care for the comics, but he’s always gracious when I share what I am laughing (out loud) about.

Next, I read the Daily News. This was my dad’s preferred New York paper. I believe it was also his father’s preferred New York paper.  I loved the big headlines and pictures on the front. I loved the gossip columns inside about celebrities and society figures, out and about in New York City. I loved the frequently macabre ‘Justice Stories’ features about terrible crimes committed in days gone by. And of course, I loved the comics. In their heyday, the paper published 4 full pages of them daily, in color on Sundays.  The NY Daily News was a window into an exciting, but quite possibly very dangerous world. To me, it still is. And they still run the best comics.

Finally, I begin to tackle the NY Times.  My mother’s father, my grandfather Will, went out and got the Sunday Times every week, and would spend most of the week perusing each section.  I didn’t read it as a child; it was an overwhelming prospect – just the enormity of the paper itself, the sheer physical weight of it was too much for me. I was well and truly intimidated. But, sometime in my twenties, I began to buy it on Sundays. When I worked on the 12-8 shift, I would frequently share a Sunday Times with my friend, Bill Barlow.  We would divy it up according to our preferences for particular sections – for example, he would have dibs on the Arts & Leisure section because he loved classical music and opera, I always got the Magazine because I worked the crossword puzzle.  Neither of us read the Sports section.  If I were to theorize, I might have attributed my newfound desire for large quantities of information, at least partially, to my need for refuge from a difficult relationship.  But immersing myself in that enormous newspaper also connected me to a grandfather I adored, and admired for his intelligence and knowledge of the world. I felt, and still feel, that his was a worthy example to follow.  I believe that it is important to know what is going on, and why, in the world outside my door.

I’ve never had much affinity for cable news.  During a crisis or calamity, I do, like everyone else, turn on CNN for basic information.  I find, though, that listening to modern news programs, with their arguing and opinionating, is enormously stressful. I don’t enjoy listening to the endlessly adversarial panels. I still want information, but I have never liked being shouted at, so I ingest cable news in very small doses. I watch Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes on MSNBC regularly.  I find their formats, which involve people speaking one at a time, more coherent, and Maddow’s efforts to weave some sort of coherent fabric out of the various threads of the Russian hacking investigations help me make sense of what is going on there.

So, nowadays, and particularly in the bizarre new world of the Trump presidency, I find it easier to read the news. I make us a pot of coffee, and Roger takes his cup to the living room, allowing the voices of various cable news talking heads to wash over him, and I adjourn to my study. I put on some music, usually KPIG.com (try it, you’ll like it- classic rock, evolved) or WWOZ.org (New Orleans-based public radio- jazz, blues, & modern NO-influenced), and start with the Washington Post.  I read the front page, some of the commentary and analysis, and of course, the comics.  I actually started reading the Post because they ran several comics that weren’t available through other papers, particularly my long-time favorite, Doonesbury.

After the Post, I turn to my email inbox, where I read various articles from Medium.com and the New Yorker.  I sign petitions for various causes dear to my heart (more and more every day), and once I’ve gone through all of that, I read the rest of my comics. Next is Facebook, where I see what my compatriots are posting from the likes of the NY Times and The Guardian. Finally, I turn to Twitter, for additional information from new (to me) sources such as Vox, Slate, Reuters, McClatchy, Pro Publica, The Hill, the LA Times, and small outlets like the Lawfare blog and the Palmer Report.  Yes, that’s a ridiculous amount of input.  But I am enormously reassured by the depth and breadth of the coverage. The mainstream media, much maligned by the administration, is investigating what promises to be a scandal of epic, world-shaking proportion. They are certainly not behaving as if they were, collectively, the enemy of the American people.  They are, thankfully, doing their jobs.

In past years, I seldom spent more than an hour in the morning, skimming through the headlines, reading the comics, and then, going about my day.  I trusted that the people in charge were basically competent, capable individuals.  Even if I did not agree with individual opinions or policies, I seldom did more than sign an online petition.  I thought I was doing enough.  I had spent most of my adult life as a public servant, and felt that after having done that for 27 years, I was entitled to just take care of my life, and the people in it.  I watched the campaign last year with horror, but I continued to believe that my fellow citizens would make the right choice.  I thought that I understood others’ misgivings about Hillary Clinton, but that they would ultimately vote for competency and a steady hand at the helm, over bluster and buffoonery and little in the way of discernable policy.

I read the articles about Russian interference – the hacking, the bots, the fake news sites on Facebook, coupled with Trump’s disparagement of the intelligence community’s reports, with increasing fear.  This, in and of itself, would be cause for concern. Now, couple this with the possibility that the Trump campaign may have colluded with our attackers.  I have followed international society and business dealings for many years, including some involving Donald Trump, with no small amount of fascination, but I now realized that something more sinister was underlying the glitter and glamour.  Underneath was a web of connections which is seeming more ominous and threatening as each day passes and more is revealed.   And finally, add in the policies of cruelty that the administration is attempting to implement (Muslim ban, science denial, Trumpcare, civil rights rollbacks, etc, etc, oh god I need some Pepto), and the truly stunning incompetency on display ( the budget cuts to essential departments and services, the fact that these people can’t stop LYING),  and I have come to the inevitable conclusion that I was wrong and I was not doing enough.

Since the election, I have come to believe that being a citizen of the USA is a job, and I had been slacking.  So, I read, I march (March for Science), I donate (not a lot, I’m retired), I sign petitions, I phone my Congressional representatives, and I signed on to Democrat Al Almeida’s campaign for mayor of Danbury. I do all this in the hopes that it will help make my corner of the world a little bit better.  I take great comfort in the fact that I am not alone.  Over 13,000 women across the country have either expressed interest in or are actually running for office.  Thousands more people donated to the organizations we must now depend on to fight back (ACLU, Planned Parenthood, & EarthJustice are some of my favorites).  Hundreds of thousands of people have marched, so far.

I remain hopeful. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one working here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Nice Roger Retires

Before the nice Roger Brooks became a policeman at the age of 35, he had a number of careers. He was a professional photographer, trained at the NY Institute of Photography, and worked as chief staff photographer at both the Milford Citizen and eventually, the News-Times, in Danbury.  He then ran his own photography studio, which led to his involvement with Teleprompter, running their local channel (ask him about the Halloween newscast). After he left there, he became a successful insurance salesman, working locally in Danbury.

In 1979, an old friend, now working as a police officer, bet him $5 that he couldn’t pass the entry test for the Danbury Police Department. Roger won the bet, and became a uniform patrol officer. His old friend, who had graduated first in his police academy class, refused to pay up, preferring to up the ante by betting that Roger couldn’t do better than him at the academy. Roger did as well, coming in first in his academy class, winning the Samuel J. Luciano Award for Academic Achievement, in December, 1979. Roger maintains to this day that his friend welshed on the bet and still owes him $5.

Roger spent a number of years in the patrol division, becoming somewhat notorious for his penchant for chasing cars, and arresting drunk drivers. One shift commander, weary of signing overtime slips (many DUI stops seemed to occur at shift change), ordered him to park his patrol car in the department parking lot well before the end of his shift. Roger stopped a DUI, in front of the police station, on his way in to comply with the order. Oops. In 1984, he set the record for most DUI’s in the department, and was named Officer of the Year, receiving an award from the Rotary Club.

Roger’s background in photography eventually led to his involvement in the formation of the Danbury Police Dept’s crime scene unit. He remained with the Crime Scene unit until 1998.  During his tenure there, he became a latent print examiner and a crime scene reconstructionist.  After joining the International Association for Identification, he also became both a certified senior crime scene analyst and certified bloodstain pattern analyst. Almost all subsequent Danbury Police crime scene unit members received their basic training from Roger. He taught re-certification classes to members of area departments as part of ongoing police training. In the late 1990’s, he worked occasionally for ICITAP (International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program), a joint State/Justice Department program to provide US-style training to police in countries previously under authoritarian rule, or at war.  This led to his overseas travel (using his vacation time) to such global garden spots as Haiti, just after ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was deposed, Panama, just after Manuel Noriega was deposed, and both Bosnia and the Serb Republic, just after the shooting had allegedly stopped (ask him about being pulled over by a tank).

In 1998, Roger accepted a promotion to detective (after turning down promotions to sergeant) and left full-time crime scene work.  He continued to work the occasional crime scene as a technician, as well as continuing to teach various crime scene classes. As his skills as an investigator grew, he found himself gravitating towards new areas of law enforcement such as fraud and financial crime, identity theft, and consumer fraud, . When asked how his day was, his most frequent answer was, “Typing, typing, typing.”  But much of that typing was for warrants for criminals who had embezzled from a small business, or home repair scammers who had ripped off an elderly person, or counterfeiters running a bootleg CD factory, among other crimes.   He worked not only with the Danbury Police, but with virtually all of the area departments, as well as the USPS Postal Inspectors, CT Department of Consumer Protection, the US Secret Service, the CT State Police, and the FBI.  I’m sure I’m overlooking an agency, but you get the idea.

His last week on the job, he worked overtime three days out of five, finished a couple of cases close to his heart, did roll-call training for the patrol division, and one day, assisted patrol officers in making an immediate felony arrest of unlicensed home repairmen who had ripped off an elderly couple to the tune of $7,000.

May 1, 2017 was his last full day at work. I posted a short note on Facebook, and the department also posted, putting up a picture of Roger and other detectives, along with Chief Ridenhour and Deputy Chief McColgan, congratulating him on his years of service. For the next 36 hours, he got notification after notification of ‘Like’ buttons being pressed, uniformly laudatory comments being made, and the police department photo being shared by family and friends alike. He kept saying, “I don’t get it.” It would appear that this accomplished, honorable and dedicated police officer genuinely thought that no one was paying attention, as he did his job with enthusiasm, expertise, and courage, for 38 years.  I, as his wife, am enormously gratified that I am not the only one who noticed.  I thank you, one and all.

I Am NOT Going To Get Over It- Part 2, The Post-Election Blues

Quite frankly, after the election, I cried. I cried for a couple of days.  I tried to watch “The Daily Show” coverage the day after, and it just made me cry again. Hasan Minhaj, one of the correspondents, appeared genuinely frightened about whether his mother would be able to return to the country in March. I read analysis after analysis. I talked to friends. I screamed with one of them at the trees in Roxbury, one sunshiny late fall day, which helped more than I had anticipated. I had been relatively restrained in my political postings during the campaign season, but after the election, I posted even less. Given that I saw Trump supporters compassionately advising others to “Get over it!”, this seemed best, initially.

But while I may have retreated from public view, I was not inactive. I had come to the conclusion that I, as an individual citizen, needed to do more. Much, much, more.

I started by reviewing my charitable and activist donations, removing some after more careful vetting, and adding others, and I now give on a monthly  basis. My thinking is this – regular income is good for everyone, including charities There are several major charity watch organizations that monitor groups. My budget isn’t large, but every little bit helps. Hey, it worked for Bernie Sanders.

I decided that I wanted to share more of my reading and activism on social media. While I didn’t want to remove myself from my general Facebook community, I also didn’t care to get into daily discussions with Trump supporters.  I thought that would be too annoying for words. In my initial post-election Facebook post, to a group of friends and family I knew were of a liberal bent,  I explained briefly that I would like to share with them much more of both my online activism and what I was reading-both investigative reporting and commentary .  I gave all those seeing the post the choice of opting out, and it gave me a boost that no one did.  This week, I posted a public message inviting any other interested friends to join as well. I was immensely pleased at the positive response. A dozen more friends accepted the invitation, including a couple of conservatives just interested in what I was reading and doing.

And finally, since I planned to share what I was reading, I took a close look at my own sources of information. While I believe in constant vigilance, and actively look for better ways to review my sources of information, I will admit to allowing ‘Zesty Left Wing News’ into my Twitter feed for a time. No one is immune. How could I resist ‘Zesty’? But, while it was not grossly inaccurate, it was mostly rehash, with the added bonus of inflammatory headlines. Bye, bye, ‘Zesty Left Wing News’.  There are still ample mainstream sources of information, with signed bylines & accreditation. The NY Times, while it has (justifiably) been criticized recently, is still mostly reliable. The Washington Post is still doing good work, and I find their commentators to be astute, impassioned, and informed. Mother Jones magazine is a terrific alternate news source.  The Center for American Progress does excellent investigations into various political and environmental issues. Grist is doing much the same thing, with more focus on human aspects as opposed to the strictly political. These are just a few of the places I am getting my information from. I double-check everything.

The next four years are going to be ugly.  Nothing I’ve seen in the public sphere since the election has disabused me of that notion. The Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress are actively seeking to roll back civil rights protections, dismantle  and repeal environmental regulations, and deprive millions of their healthcare coverage. And that’s just for starters.  Buckle up, buttercups, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I Am NOT Going To Get Over It. Part 1- The Election

I haven’t felt good since the election. I’m not over the election.  I’m not going to get over the election. I see no reason to get over the election. It’s not a matter of refusing to accept the results of the election. I accept the fact that Donald Trump won the electoral college votes necessary to become president. I accept that our system allowed this to happen. But I because I believe in facts, I take heart in another fact – Donald Trump did not win the popular vote, despite his unsubstantiated blustering about millions of fraudulent votes in California. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, by millions. And I am further heartened by the fact that, although he may have won the electoral college vote legitimately, in the 3 key states, Pennsylvania, Michigan, & Wisconsin, he didn’t win the popular vote there by much (less than 100,000 votes).  Overall, there is no mandate, claims of one to the contrary, and for the second time in recent history, we are about to be subjected to minority rule.  So, for me, not getting over it is how I choose to respond. And since I’ve been horrified and dismayed on an almost daily basis since the election, this will probably remain my response.

As the seemingly endless primary season progressed, I looked at both Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ proposals. I liked what Sanders had to say. Although some of what he proposed seemed a bit pie in the sky, his passion and dedication over many years was marvelous. I appreciated the strength and intelligence that I had seen Clinton display over the years, in the face of truly unrelenting misogyny, and she had policy papers for everything.  However, I worried about both her appeal to middle America and her ability to overcome perception. I looked closely at the media coverage of her, and evaluations of that media coverage. I then set that aside, and looked at her record of service and achievement over the course of decades. Finally, I looked at the conclusions of too many investigations  to count, many unnecessary,  and I concluded that her flaws (perceived and real) did not come close to outweighing her qualifications.  I remain deeply appreciative of the fact that the Democratic primary season contained genuine policy discussions, and very little mud-slinging. I watched the Democratic convention with pride at its’ inclusiveness, its’ policy proposals, and its’ celebration of America, with speech after speech speaking to a better future for all Americans.

I glanced over at the Republican debate to hear Trump bragging about the size of his dick. And it wasn’t just the repellent personal attacks. I also looked at the various Republican policy proposals and saw little that was going to benefit most of us, not just the ones at the top. I saw a party with policies that seek to disenfranchise voters, is against marriage equality, wishes to control women’s medical choices, denies climate change science and advocates  a rehash of trickle-down economic policy that has long since been discredited. So, while I was never going to vote Republican,  I didn’t anticipate that Republican voters would choose as their champion the very worst of the lot. I watched the Republican convention with amazement, completely failing to recognize the pre-apocalyptic hellscape being described by speaker after speaker. And no, it’s not because I don’t get out much.

My revulsion at Donald Trump exists on several levels. As a woman who has been molested, having a self-admitted sexual predator as president is truly disturbing (Yes, he is. He said he was, then 18 women backed up his statement.).  As a thinking, feeling human being, I was offended by the words of religious and ethnic bigotry right at the opening of his campaign – his characterization of Mexicans as rapists and his proposal for a ban on Muslims coming into the US being most notable. I was disturbed by the violent rhetoric on the campaign trail, and repelled by both his reluctance to disavow the support of the KKK and his apparent comfort with the white nationalist fringe, judging by the multiple retweets. As a patriot, I was appalled by the abuse of a Gold Star family, the denigration of Sen. McCain’s service, and the hideous advocacy of torture. Oh, and let’s not forget his refusal to say whether he would accept the results of the election. That’s just what I can recall off the top of my head. In his much-vaunted business background, there’s a history of union-busting, lawsuits (3,500) – many involving vendors or contractors trying to get paid, a federal lawsuit in the 1970’s because of racist rental policies, and 6 (???) bankruptcies. How is this man considered a competent businessman?  He released no detailed information about his web of corporations. He released none of his tax returns. The medical report that was released was ridiculous, so we have little information about his health.  And finally, there’s the lying. The endless, and frequently pointless, lying. According to one fact-checker, he lied roughly every three seconds. As near as I could tell the only policy was building the big, beautiful wall, locking up Hillary Clinton, and oh, yes, some trickle-down economics proposals involving tax cuts for the rich.

I went to bed early election night. I knew around 9pm it didn’t look good. I woke up around 12:30am, made the mistake of glancing at my phone, and I wept. And quite frankly, I wept frequently for a couple of days. It wasn’t just that this manifestly awful, and possibly dangerous person was elected president, but that people I knew voted for him. That people I knew, friends and neighbors, along with millions of others, allied themselves with racists, bigots, and misogynists, because some blustering, manipulative, snake-oil salesman sold them a bill of goods. I was stunned to find that Trump’s egomaniacal assertion that only he could ‘fix’ America had been bought by my fellow citizens – lock, stock, & 4-year administration. America wasn’t broke in the first place. What the fuck were you people thinking?