Thursday, November 24, 2016

Normal eyes

My mom is dead, which is good. These terrible days would have broken her heart all over again, so painfully.

Hillary Clinton was her candidate. I seem to remember she called her "my Hillary" or "my girl." I understand she was sooooo upset when she lost the nomination in 2008 to Barack Obama. I don't understand quite why.

We spoke once a week or so from afar, but about everyday stuff, not politics. At the time I was drowning in my attempt to become a teacher, and when I could crane my neck for a glimpse of the outside world, it was in fascination at the idea Obama could be president, so diametrically opposed from a presidency of questionable and brutal war.

What goes around, comes around, with venom.

My mom, Bonnie Jean, didn't like Obama. Again, I'm not sure why, or why she particularly liked Hillary Clinton. Maybe it was simply that she would be the first woman president, or she did not find Obama genuine.

Nor am I sure what my mom would have thought of Obama's presidency. She died a week into his first term. I imagine that she would have admired his effort to wrest the country out of a recession, but would have rankled at continued war. There would be no pleasing her with him. I imagine she would have given him hell. Mom was at a time in her life when she had a mind to tell someone exactly what she thought, and plenty of time and a computer to do so.

To me, she embodied the Jenny Joseph poem, "When I am old," the ode that inspired the loosely organized organization known as the Red Hat Society, to which she belonged. She was the woman in the poem who would "run my stick along the public railings/And make up for the sobriety of my youth."

But as hard and as faithfully as Mom would have berated Obama, she would have harangued his enemies — the Republican leaders who stymied Obama's every effort, the Fox News pundits barking baseless propaganda at his ankles — so much harder.

And Donald J. Trump — the president-elect should be glad my mom is dead. He'd be no match.

For awhile anyway, then I imagine eventually she would despair at this surreal, unreal, untrue time. She would be so worked up she could hardly talk.

She'd see what I see, the latest being the astounding "thank you" rally President-elect Trump staged last night in Cincinnati, one of several to take place in the swing states he won.

He is truly still running for president, rather than getting ready to be president. He is running down "my Hillary" still, riling his rally crowd into the Pavlovian reaction of "Lock her up! Lock her up!" Still! He is amping his base over the new nonissue of flag burning, of radical Islamic terrorism, the utter bullshit of what he knows his followers want to hear.

Trump is still describing his swing-state wins — while the popular vote stands at two-freaking-point-five million more votes for Hillary Clinton, and counting — and literally pointing to the "dishonest" press who said he couldn't win. We have heard all of this before. Many, many times.

His rally came complete with a public humiliation of a protestor, who "doesn't vote. They never vote!" Trump pronounced. And the people believed!

I will not be surprised today to hear new stories of crimes in the name of hate.

Oh, and by the way, said Trump at the rally, we must come together as a nation.

He has a funny way of showing it.

My god, I can hear my mom saying, when she'd have found her tongue again, is he governing by Beer Hall Putsch? Is this our new presidency, staging rallies to whip up his base?! Can we not see how this rise of despotism, the measured steps, the grooming of we, the people, for this man's rule?!

Hell would have to be paid, right about now, by my mom, in a flurry of letters, so many letters:
  • To Steve Bannon, champion of the white nationalist movement, now Trump's adviser
  • To the proposed cabinet of Trump's billionaire beneficiaries, whose money won't cover their egregious inexperience and delight in making their world safe from us. They are draining the swamp by the girth of their fat bellies
  • To Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose plan to obstruct President Obama these last eight years worked too well, leaving us Trump
  • To Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who had hearings lined up to attack Hillary Clinton over her emails, but not a whit of consideration for Trump's staggering global conflicts of interest
And that would have been just a warmup. She'd have laid most of her unrelenting vengeance at Trump, who she'd have seen, as I do, that he's taking our country into danger as he speaks of safety, and separation has he talks of unity.

No email server could have contained my mom's fury at all this hypocrisy, this new normal.

Normalize. Normal eyes. Oligarchy. Gaslighting. Kleptocracy. Fascism. A lover of words, my mom would have rolled these, some new, others resurrected, over her tongue. And spat them out again. The new normal of words.

Even with all this nonsense, what would have really crushed my mom is what's going on near where she grew up in North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux and supporters standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I wouldn't have been surprised if my mom had tried to join the encampment against the pipeline. She was raised on stories of the Mandan people near her hometown of Washburn, who sheltered Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery during a terrible winter 114 years ago. She cultivated an affinity for native people, and drew away from the Catholic Church in which she grew up, upset at its complicity against native cultures.

Energy Transfer Partners, Phillips 66 and law enforcement in North Dakota would know my mom's name, for all the missives she would have fired at them, full of choice words.

She'd have stood with Standing Rock, wondering what has come to this country, people being driven again from their land for short-term profit.

As do I.

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