What a few months we’ve been through. No point in rehearsing all the stages I have gone through. But since I am incapable of not being an optimist, even though I know better, I have solved it in this way: I had been thinking that if I made it for five more years I would probably see a great-grandchild or two born. Worth doing. But now I have decided to try to live 12 more years (three electoral presidential cycles) so I can see the pendulum swing and take some healthy breaths before I call it quits. I do envy those much younger for having more time to do this.
Of course, it means that we all, including me, cannot spend too much time grieving and complaining. We do always need smart analyses, thoughtful historical perspectives, etc. (We need, for example, to remember that less than ¼ of all potential voters voted for Trump, and half of the eligible voters did not or could not vote at all.) But we also need motion—action—face-to-face as well as all other ways. We need to bury—or put on the back burner—as many differences on our side that we can tolerate (and which smart strategy suggests doing). We need to build bridges: we need the kind of listening skills that good educator’s work rests on.
A good classroom is always building bridges between what different people think—even in a math class. Listening to and taking seriously the absurd, the offensive, and the illogical ideas as I tried to do in kindergarten classes was not a frill. There was always a nugget of truth, an insight that still informs me, and even angry words were important to me—where does this passion come from? For example, were Stein votes in Wisconsin enough to have turned that state Democratic? Only Stein supporters need to consider that; while we remember how hard it was for many others to vote for Hillary as they did. The fewer litmus tests we demand, the more likely we can in the long run be persuasive.
If we write-off too many citizens (and would-be citizens) then in 12 years we may even eke out a victory with those solidly or our side, but not the landslide we need to safely move ahead. Starting in 2018 we need to practice what we preach: respecting the opinions of others.
We also need to be there, while doing our very best to take care of those directly wounded by Trump—and there will be many mortally wounded, not just disappointed.
For me it brings into question the “inevitability” of democracy that I was raised to believe in. T’aint so. It may be that some will always seek it, but it does not mean they will achieve it. Even in the shabby form of the democracy we live in. Amanda Taub wrote a piece in the NY Times on Tuesday, November 29th, page A7 entitled “Warning Signs Flashing Red for Democracies.” Read it.
I will discuss this further in my next blog.
Filed under: 2016 |