On Tuesday, November 2, 2004 I had the early shift at the coffee shop where I worked. As the early morning turned to late morning and then afternoon, more and more people walked through the door with a smile on their face and that little “I voted” sticker on their lapel. This was in the middle of Los Angeles, so “I voted” meant “I voted again Bush.” After four years of George W., it felt good to think we were coming together to get him out of office.
My shift ended at 2PM. I went to vote stinking like coffee. I went home and took a shower. I took a nap. I started to watch the news, and then, damn it, he won again.
I found a website that was collecting photos of people holding up signs that said “we’re sorry”–Americans apologizing to the world for electing this man that was so obviously a poor fit for the presidency. I looked at the website every day for weeks. Maybe even for months and it made me feel a little better to know that I wasn’t alone. My fellow liberals weren’t wearing stickers, but they were out and proud on this website.
Yesterday I teared up while walking to my polling place as I saw my neighbors make the same trek, and thought about how I–me–got to vote in a historic election for the first woman to get this close to the White House. My brother texted me a photo of his red, white and blue socks and a tshirt he got his baby girl that said “why be a princess when you can be president.” My mom, a life-long Republican, texted to say how thrilled she was that Trump was about to be out of our lives forever.
I watched that video of the line of people waiting to pay tribute at Susan B. Anthony’s grave.
I hearted Instagram photos of my friends wearing white, or pantsuits, or taking their daughters to the booth with them.
But throughout the day, that parade of customers from 2004 kept flashing through my mind. I hoped it wasn’t a bad omen.
For 8 years I haven’t felt that old familiar shame whenever the president makes a public speech, or appears on the news meeting with foreign leaders.
The world is even more connected now than it was when George W. was president and now once again I’m cringing at the person we’ve selected to represent us to the global community.
At 10PM last night, I was sobbing in the bathroom. This morning I held a popsicle over my swollen eye lids while making a coffee and trying to get up the psychic energy to go to work. In between the sobbing and the popsicle, my wife and I made a plan to get through the next four years:
- No travel to red states. We like to travel, but don’t have a ton of money, which means a lot of our vacations are domestic. But we will not spend our hard earned dollars in states that voted against the interests of minorities like us. We’ll miss you Austin.
- When it comes to stuff, we’ll buy as locally as possible. There is a Gap Factory store a 15 min walk from my work and I’ve been known to sneak off there during my lunch break and buy some jeans, or a get my wife a shirt. No more.
- When it comes to food, we’ll also try to buy as locally as possible. If we buy produce from farmers markets, we’re guaranteed to be supporting local farmers. Luckily we live in a city where there’s a different market almost every day of the week.
- We will speak out when we are being mistreated and we will ask for what we need. On a small scale, this could mean asking a guy to make space on a Metro seat. On a slightly larger scale, this meant disagreeing with my boss at a meeting today after I asked that we include female composers in a film music promotion we’re planning and he started to argue that we’re trying to entertain our audience, not prove some kind of social point. And on a much larger scale, when the policymakers come for our rights and freedoms, we will speak out. Which leads me to…
- We will join forces with others to create effective advocacy. We are both introverts, so it’s more our style to quietly donate to a cause than show up at a meeting. But we need to start showing up. And we will.
So we have a plan. But man this still sucks. It feels like a gut punch. It feels like a break up. It just feels awful.