Now he was the main focus. There were no other candidates to wait for or to compete against. He won the election. He was it.
At first, I just listened to the content of the questions and his answers. After awhile, I began to notice more and more about his presentation, the way he spoke and gestured no matter which question he was answering. I watched him hold his right finger up while talking, as if instructing a room full of school children. I heard him repeat certain words twice, as he often does. I observed his use of superlatives and absolutes, such as “excellent” or “great” or “smartest” or “the best” when describing his nominees or his associates.
Suddenly, I realized something. Actually, I felt something. I reflected on how I felt back in school myself, being assaulted by bullies on the playground. I was so full of anger and rage and desire for revenge that I thought I would explode. But I was much smaller and weaker than they were. And I was only one boy, but they were in a pack. So I couldn’t really fight back.
Later, in bed at night, I imagined what it would be like to just kill them. Not with a gun, but just pound them to death with my own fists, to express the sheer fury and rage I felt inside. I knew that I could never actually murder anybody. It was just a fantasy, but it was a fervent one.
So, here I was watching the President Elect on TV. He was very serious. He was correcting a reporter. “We are going to build a wall,” he said. Not a fence. A wall. Suddenly I seemed to sense the feeling he was projecting. Here was a man who just gotten elected president who seemed just as filled with rage and revenge as I had been as a boy on the school yard. This was more than a policy decision, it was an urge to fight back. Fight back against all the people and things that it seemed had been bullying him and many of those who voted for him, for a long time.
And they had had it. They had reached their limit. They were fed up. They were beyond wasting any more time in debate. His presence on stage during the campaign had mirrored this feeling. They voted for him for many different reasons, of course. But one of those reasons was that this man was someone, perhaps the first person in a long time, who was ‘on their side’ on the school yard of this country. They had felt bullied over and over again and didn’t see any way out. Finally, now there was a way. Vote for Donald Trump.
And yes, they were in the minority. Not just in comparison to voters for Hillary Clinton, but in comparison to all voters. After all, only about 25% of US residents over age 18 actually voted for Donald Trump. The rest voted for somebody else or didn’t vote at all, for various reasons. So Trump voters were in a distinct minority, just in numbers alone. But beyond that, they seemed to be in a minority when it came to the press and news channels. The main stream press looked as if it was on the side of those who were ignoring them and their concerns. And in Congress, their elected representatives were in a minority when compared to the Democrats and the ‘establishment’ Republicans, when taken together.
Well, they wouldn’t be ignored this time! Their guy got elected and no amount of finagling of the electoral college or recount efforts had changed that.
I thought back to why I had felt so enraged when I was young. I realized that it wasn’t just being bullied but because I had no way out. School was compulsory, so I couldn’t run away. The teachers mostly had the attitude of ‘let them settle it among themselves,’ unless someone drew blood. My parents were both ineffectual. Nobody would really help me. Adults were full of suggestions about what to say or how to ‘just ignore them,’ but I was too sensitive for that. It seemed that no one could truly listen to me or understand how I felt.
So what do you do if you’re an adult in the USA who is under paid, overworked, or out of a job altogether? What if you tried to go to college but found out that it was wrong for you, leaving you with no degree and staggering debt? What if the world around you has changed so much, so fast, that you feel as if you can hardly recognize your own country anymore? What if nobody seems to care about you or be willing to help you? What options do you have left?
I think I need a number of things to do that. First, I imagine that I need to find a way, within myself, to shift from an arguing, contentious posture to one of listening and understanding. To change from trying to convince someone to a sense of genuine openness and search for a common humanity - how we are alike as well as not alike. Second, what can I say to let them know that I’m not going to beat them over the head with my point of view? That they can trust me? Third, where do I go to find a few such people to talk with in a calm surrounding? And finally, how can I keep my cool when someone says something that rings such a sour note to me that I’m tempted to challenge their opinion without thinking? What if we need a facilitator or a forum of some kind to provide sort of a relief valve to ‘blow off steam’ when the feelings come up, without attacking each other?
I’m trying to finish writing a book. What I’ve said here is partly what the book is about. Until I finish it, I’m not ready to spend significant time on other projects or volunteer work. Yet I couldn’t help myself. I sat down to write this anyway.
Tomorrow is another day. Soon, my book will be done, edited, and published. And then, I may be traveling around to various places to read from it, take questions, and sign copies. And I will likely end up in places where I’m in the minority. After all, I’ll be a man wearing a dress.