I haven’t posted an update since the elections, because, well, I haven’t been sure of what to say. For me, as a Democrat, it was hard to watch the results roll in on November 8th, to sit on my comfy couch and watch as NBC announced, in true Hunger Games-esque fashion, one state after the next going to Donald Trump and the Republican party.
It seemed surreal and even amusing early in the night. “Well,” I thought, “they’re going to make a fight out of things! Now, I have a reason to stay up and eat more food!” But then it kept going, and the map kept getting more red, like the color of a sunset as the sun moves further and further below the horizon.
Around 11 PM, I began accepting the inevitable, and with that acceptance came a flood of five-year plans. Move to New Zealand? Yes. No. Wait, I can’t actually do that, can I? Maybe Canada? It’s closer. I could come home for the holidays. No, I can’t leave. We have kids. And that’s too easy, any way. We’re Americans, damnit.
And then I had visions of New America. Visions of armed deportation troops marching up and down desolate American highways, vigilante style, with badges on their chests like in an old west movie, arresting people right and left without due process or cause. I imagined riots, fires, gun fire popping off in the night. Of course, this image is a bit (or a lot) dramatic, but throughout these past few months an apocalyptic tone has been pervasive. This was the battle to end all battles. I had to imagine what was possible. I had to prepare for any eventuality, in order to make an informed decision on whether to fight or take flight, and more importantly, if I stayed, whether there was any fight to make.
It’s January now, and I’m still here, though the sting of defeat hasn’t lessened. If anything, the wound has grown deeper as one discriminatory cabinet position after the next has been appointed from Trump’s throne high in his tower. Meanwhile, out in the real world and on Facebook, hateful voices long repressed have begun shouting in rhetoric not seen since the launch of Sputnik. “Hail Trump” has been spray painted in many places; numerous minorities have reportedly been harassed, including one of Leah’s friends who had lemons thrown at his car simply for having an Obama bumper sticker; and Congress almost got away with gutting an independent ethics committee today, in only their first twenty-four hours back in session.
And here I sit, with only a computer, a chip on my shoulder, and probably too much caffeine in my system.
Normally, I’m pretty good at losing. I lose or get rejected by so many playwriting contests a year that I make the Cleveland Browns look promising.
But there’s something different going on today. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel like Jean Valjean sitting alone in the field after stealing the Bishop of Digne’s candlesticks. There is a fork in the road coming up. Many have suggested now is the time for artists. That now is the time for our creative voices to be louder than ever. And I hope they’re right. I hope the fight is in us. I hope the next four years will be the most artistically productive years America has seen in decades. I don’t know what my place is in all of this. Or if I have a place at all.
Maybe all I know about the world we live in, and the world to come, is that I have to keep writing, every day, whether it’s political discourse or a historical piece on baseball; and I have to try to be the best person I know how, to be the best father and husband and human being I can. If at the end that fails and the world falls in on itself and my words still go up in so much smoke, like the puff of a firecracker that failed to explode -- then at least by God I made an attempt. At least I can go knowing I tried to do right, and tried to be in the right, even if leaned to the left. And that’s true no matter who is in office.
Next update I promise to talk about playwriting. I swear.