A political editorial from Bill Payne
Political editorial by Bill Payne, written on 01.22.17.
Following the 2016 election results I was back in the familiar territory of a state of disbelief and anxiety. Richard Nixon’s win in 1968 was one of those moments. Dark times. What made Nixon’s victory even more horrific was it signified a culmination of dark and dreadful times: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Vietnam War, while, perversely, ramping up even more distressing and damaging times.
One couldn’t escape the onslaught. Yes there were ways to fend off the pain, through drugs, sex, and rock and roll. But there was a sense of being suffocated in a world of disillusionment and disrepair.
I had the same sense this time, but it didn’t last long. What initially turned me around, even though I went through a good portion of time trying to convince myself that we would all be going to hell in a handbag, was the following notion.
I had been convinced that Hillary would win, and although there was always a chance she could lose, I kept thinking how could she? Most groups were supposedly in her favor; she was leading in a good many of the polls; the gaffes Trump made day in and day out were endless and, with exception to his supporters, seemed ultimately damning to his ability to win. I said to myself that if she won that the other side was not going away. We would have to see where they would settle, what kind of influence might they have. There was going to be lots of competition for influence, more so than usual.
The center was being torn apart from all sides. Progressives on one end, the Alt-Right careening from the other end, the amalgamation of the disconnected and disenfranchised,…okay, I have to stop! We live in a fractured nation. A ship of fools. It makes my head hurt to think about it. When Trump won, my lifeline to sanity was that just as his league of followers were not going anywhere, neither were those of us who voted for Hillary. My belief was once the white noise dissipated and the mourning began to subside, once his motives, and of those surrounding him, became clear to those who previously couldn’t see the difference between Secretary Clinton and the Donald, then, perhaps then the cold embrace of reality could begin to crystalize a path.
Trump’s tone after the election, his tweets, his pathological need to aggrandize himself and belittle anyone not in agreement with him, his cabinet picks which defy logic; and finally his Inaugural speech: a dark, isolationist, one America (Amerika) screed not heard certainly in our lifetime, was the catalyst to open a long hidden impulse to push this country back to civil (and I stress the word civil) disobedience.
January 21, 2017, was an opening of the floodgates: The Women’s March. I have seldom been prouder of this country. It manifestly showed the resilience and integrity of what truly makes the United States a beacon to the world. A mighty combination of voices, primarily women, but with many men, as well, giving a civics lesson in what freedom actually looks like, sounds like. There was a joy and purpose to those attending the various marches throughout the world, a commitment to shared values, tethered loosely to a collage of causes, creating a mandate of strength through diversity.
The big question is what’s next? There was a cynicism from some commenting on events that while the marches were all well and good, what would happen six months from now? I believe the bonds forged January 21st will have a lasting power. It is driven by what kind of world we wish to live in. What world do we want for our children? The number of people who marched with their families and friends: three generations of women, fathers and daughters, sisters, all combinations, gave me hope that there can and will be a lasting effect.
The marches were also in opposition to a man who has tested our will to remain silent while he rips and tears decency into shreds, touting a mantra of hate and discord by means of deflection and deceit. His contribution to the marches is undeniable. Those of good conscience can simply not give in to apathy.
At this writing he has served his first two days in office to disastrous effect.
Hang on for a long ride.
I will be back in touch with you on a project, The Health & Wellness Center, dedicated to Dr. David Gray, my wife’s father who passed away two years ago.
The Center is located in St. Louis, MO. I’ll have more information about it soon.