I will not be marching this weekend. Not in Washington, D.C., not in my hometown of Phoenix. No pink pussy hat for me.
It’s not because I hate crowds (although I do) or because I am not typically a marcher (I’m not). I’ve struggled to figure out why – after taking an active interest in this most recent presidential election – I have the overwhelming desire to stay home on Saturday, and I’ve come up with this.
I’ve lost hope.
Please, put away the Kleenex. I don’t mean to sound so melodramatic. I don’t feel so melodramatic. I just can’t figure out a better way to say it.
I thought about writing that on Election Night my heart broke into tiny pieces and I can’t march because I’m still busy trying to pick those pieces up off the floor. But that sounded a little over the top, as well.
It’s all true, though. My confidence has been crushed in a way I never imagined possible. I have always considered myself a badass, politically. Growing up as a liberal Democrat in the unforgiving Arizona desert, I had few role models.
I clipped a Matt Groening cartoon out of a newspaper and tacked it on my bulletin board – a single tombstone with the epithet, “Never voted for a winner in a major election.”
Finally, that changed. I flew to D.C. for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. I wore a fancy hat with a bow and cried. If you’ve never had the chance to attend an inauguration for a president you admire, I hope you get one in your lifetime and take it. It’s pretty fucking awesome. Get there before the guy does anything to mess it up. Stand in the middle of the Capitol Mall and watch history.
Don’t spend all that money to get yourself to Washington to march off to the side in a vagina hat.
Or do. Really, do whatever you want. If that makes you feel better, by all means, do it. I hope you didn’t use itchy acrylic or you’re going to get a rash on your forehead; that’s all I can think when I see those hats on my friends’ Facebook feeds.
Do whatever you want but, please know that just because I’m not marching doesn’t mean I don’t want the same things you do for women, for all of us. I just don’t believe that protesting will matter. Not right now. Give me a few months. Maybe a year.
Like so many, I fell hard for Hillary Clinton. I’m too old and jaded for Bernie Sanders (but you guessed that already) and I really felt like Clinton was the wise compromise, the winning choice, and a woman! Finally, a woman.
I put a Hillary sticker on my computer and I actually went to a craft party and made Hillary bracelets, including one that spelled out “I’M WITH HER” in tiny lettered beads. Annabelle, my 15-year-old, swiped it and wore it for several days until it broke, and even though I’m very superstitious I refused to take it as a bad sign, like I would have in any other scenario. I was that convinced that Hillary would win.
In the final weeks of the campaign, I was swept up and I grabbed my daughters and took them with me. That’s really what makes me feel terrible. I lost my footing by diving in so deep, and I deserved to crash hard on the sand on Election Night, the wind knocked out of me, the hard reminder that not everyone feels as I do plastered in red on every map on every TV station, no matter which I flipped to.
Okay, fine, I can handle that.
What I can’t handle is the image of the morning after, of facing Annabelle standing in her bedroom doorway as she asked in a small voice, “Mom, is Donald Trump our president?”
How am I supposed to explain to my kid that yeah, even though she won by 2.9 million votes, the woman doesn’t get to be president?
For days, even weeks, I told myself and anyone who would listen that Trump wouldn’t be so bad, that this was the wake-up call we deserved, that somehow a check or a balance or a dozen of each would emerge to keep things under control.
Then the cabinet appointments began. My 13-year-old has Down syndrome. She’s been mainstreamed in public school since Day One and it’s made all the difference. Watching Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, I have to wonder if we’ll make it through high school before losing the federal laws and programs that have helped Sophie so much. I’m terrified.
The day after DeVos testified, my Facebook feed filled with calls to protest her nomination. I just shook my head and moved on. No one’s listening. Why bother?
I’m not sharing my sentiments with my daughters. I get that my attitude is dangerous and contagious and most likely temporary. I want to be a role model for my girls, but I can’t bring them downtown to march this weekend. To do so would give them the hope that protesting will make a difference, and I won’t lie to them. I won’t give them that kind of hope, not now.
Instead I’ll look for distractions, at least until I’ve picked up all the pieces and figured out what to do with them.
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