Odd Woman Out
One thing I never considered when I started writing is that I would end up on the outside looking in. What I mean by that is that I tend not to march in lockstep with my fellow creatives. The result is that I, a native-born Jersey Girl of the expected gregarious and forthright nature, often remain silent on matters politic when in the company of others in my field.
To say the least, I am not a reliable liberal voter.
Lest you jump to the conclusion that I am sipping champagne from my Christian Louboutins and cackling as I re-watch Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, let’s be clear: I’m one of those fiscally conservative, socially moderate, lowercase “L” libertarian types. You know, the live and let live type. Not a joiner.
In presidential elections, I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and even one independent candidate over the last 40 years. Since moving to Maine, I have consistently helped elect and re-elect a Democratic representative to the Maine State Legislature and a Republican to the Maine Senate. I was similarly unpredictable in my voting patterns when I lived in New Jersey.
I believe in the U.S. Constitution and support the limits it places on government.
I understand the difference between peaceful protest and uncivilized behavior; I support the former and abhor and condemn the latter.
I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to our military and law enforcement personnel unless and until there’s a good reason not to do so.
As a woman, I am pro-choice in the early stages of pregnancy but, as a mother and soon-to-be-grandmother, could never support late-term abortion except to save the life of the mother.
I believe my LGBT friends and family members should enjoy the same right to marry as the rest of us; however, I also support the rights of the religiously inclined (I don’t count myself among their ranks) to conduct their businesses in alignment with their beliefs. (There’s that pesky live-and-let-live attitude again.) My position is that there are plenty of bakers and photographers and other wedding service providers to accommodate anyone and everyone who wishes to marry, regardless of their choice of mate, such that it’s not necessary to push anyone into financial straits or out of business for no other reason than to force them to “accept” your lifestyle (because, of course, that tactic will never change even one heart or mind).
It can be lonely out here, with no pigeonhole in which to make my nest among birds of a feather. (Have I taken that metaphor too far? So noted.) I have come to accept this because, honestly, what choice do I have? I am not willing to compromise my heartfelt convictions for anyone, no matter how dear. If we are friends, we are friends. Family – well, it goes without saying, doesn’t it? – we are linked by love and lineage forever. No political race is going to change that. Not for me, anyway.
But today’s post-election social media feeds were eye-opening, to say the least. The melodrama is, frankly, surprising and unsettling. People I love, like, and admire – smart people – are behaving as if the known world is imploding. Some have admitted to tears and sleeplessness. Others are threatening to leave the country. Still others are taking a break from social media to try to come to terms with their dysphoria.
All this, before the current president has even begun packing boxes and calling the movers.
Make no mistake: I am no prognosticator of political success. I have voted for winners and losers in roughly equal measure over the years. I have been elated and I have been disheartened, but I have never felt the despondency some of my friends and acquaintances apparently are feeling today. Nor have I ever given any thought whatsoever to leaving the country of my birth because not enough of my fellow citizens agreed with my electoral choice.
What is going on here?
I suspect some of it is due to an unrealistic expectation that the almost unfettered power afforded to the current President by a Congress that has allowed him to usurp its Constitutional powers meant that the committed left would never again have to face a law, rule, or regulation that didn’t align with their worldview.
Because far-reaching and oppressive regulations decreed by unelected bureaucrats rather than decided by bipartisan legislation have been allowed to go unchallenged by a flaccid Congress, there seemed to be no doubt that it would ever be thus.
Because a federally mandated health insurance scheme (consisting of a bill of almost 3,000 mostly unread pages, followed by 20,000 or so pages of regulations) could be forced upon the citizenry without a single “yea” vote from the opposing party in either house of Congress, there seemed to be no question in their minds that this was a reasonable way to govern.
In short, the disconnect between the People and their elected representatives was mistaken by the left for apathy, or acquiescence, or perhaps defeat. They never seemed to consider that the lack of action on the part of our elected representatives might not reflect the feelings of their fellow Americans at all. Apparently, over the last nearly eight years, those of us in the center and on the right were simply expected to get used to “the new normal.”
In fact, Americans are precisely the kind of people who, historically, refuse to “get used to” things they perceive as unlawful or over-reaching. After stewing for nearly eight years, that pressure cooker was bound to blow. And so it did, in a most spectacular and unexpected fashion. I mean, has there ever been a more unlikely President-Elect than Donald Trump?
Where Do We Go From Here?
Part of me believes that in a few weeks’ or months’ time the rhetoric will simmer down and we will once again come to regard one another as part of the same whole. The other part wonders whether the first part is being naïve, that we will never regain that unity because supporters of the losing candidate are not likely to accept that “normal” is whatever the electorate says it is when they wield the mighty ballot.
Where Congress refused to exercise its powers, the People have now done so. We have reminded them all – the Democrats, the Republicans, the media, and the world – that the ballot is mightier than the pen and the phone. And I don’t think that formerly “sleeping giant” will be going back to sleep anytime soon.
Let’s hope the next President has taken note of that lesson, too, and is prepared to work tirelessly to heal our wounded nation and restore our sense of unity and shared purpose.
For our part, let’s try not to overreact. We went down this road before – not so long ago, remember? – and somehow the Republic managed to survive. Tattered and divided we may be, but we’re still here. Finding our way back to One Nation Under Whatever Deity You Believe In or Don’t starts with trying to be kind to one another. That, we can get to work on right away.