In Trump’s America, I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight. I stole those words from Margaret Cho, but I think she would be OK with that in this case.

A bizarre set of circumstances – partly to do with taking advantage of Obamacare which made the procedure completely free – led me to having corrective sinus surgery on Election Day. I was disappointed to cancel my election night plans, celebrating with close friends as our first female president was elected to office. But I was able to take both my children to the polls that morning in handmade Hillary shirts and waited in a record-long line to allow my 3-year-old daughter to push the button for the first female president.

14915732_10154197680858471_193288387198903779_n

Surgery happened and I woke up in a daze just as the results began to come in. I phased in and out of consciousness all night long, becoming increasingly panicked as I checked my phone and saw messages from concerned friends asking me to reassure them. Some people look to me for answers. I know how to get a leaking faucet repaired quickly. I know how to get your parking permit renewed. I know where to find the best price on organic carrots. But I don’t know how to fix what is happening. What is happening?

I wake again to check my phone around 3:30 a.m. Trump has been declared the victor. I can’t breathe – literally and figuratively. I look in the mirror and my face is completely contorted. I know this is not a normal surgical reaction – something has gone wrong. I’m living in Trump’s America and with a face like this I’d be rated a zero. I take klonopin and vicodin and try to knock myself out. Everything is wrong. I must be having a nightmare.

I make an emergency appointment with the doctor the next day and my Uber driver tells me he was unable to cast his vote because his name was omitted from his usual polling place. The doctor looks at me and says, “Wow, never seen anything like this before!” and proceeds to rip sutures out of my septum with no anesthesia. I am screaming and crying and I don’t know what planet I’m on. My nose begins to look normal again. But outside it’s raining and bleak and there are swastikas on the windows and utility boxes.

This is reality. I look around and everything is bleak. I can’t answer emails or phone calls or texts. I don’t just see eight years of progress unraveling; I see hundreds of years unraveling.

The Paris Climate Agreement, the Clean Energy Act, the Keystone Pipeline, fracking regulations, the ENTIRE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY GUTTED. A president who thinks climate change is a hoax appointing a climate denier to eliminate the EPA. Deregulating the f%^&ing FDA to poison our food. KFC being advocated as the meal of choice. Rollbacks on all manufacturing regulations. A Vice President and an entire cabinet who wants to overturn Roe V Wade and ban gay marriage. A GOP House and Senate. Losing the healthcare that afforded me that surgery and kept my Sepsis bills from being over $100,000.

I am curled in a ball. I scrawl hasty and ill-advised posts of despair all over social media. I can’t help you anymore. I can’t save you anymore. I’m sorry. There’s no point.

………………….

I allow myself 36 hours to wallow in abject pity. But the messages and texts of support get me out of bed on Thursday. There are people who need me more than I need them. I want to love and comfort the world. I write “I love you” to everyone I can. I listen to the music that moves me. I hear a track from my 13-year-old self – a cover of World Party’s “Is It Like Today?” recorded in my bedroom in 1993. (World Party basically wrote the soundtrack for this whole election.)

I remember that I am still me. My children are still everything. My friends are still amazing and they are suffering right along with me.

A likeminded family member with whom I have a tumultuous personal history reaches out and we cry. I love you.

My brother becomes more outspokenly and passionately liberal than I’ve ever seen him. I love you.

My kids’ LGBT teachers are being comforted by the hugs of children. I love you.

My gay and lesbian friends are terrified about what this means for families’ legal status. I love you.

My disabled gay friend living openly with AIDS worrying about losing his HIV medication. I love you.

My Trump-voting friend tells me he drove three Clinton voters to the polls. I love you.

Everyone is buying up IUDs because we are afraid we will lose free birth control. I will protect you.

Muslim women take off their hijabs. I will shield you.

Some asshat acquaintance posts that she refused to vote but people are beautiful. I delete you.

My father who refused to vote. You get a pass. I love you. And every penny you give me will go to democratic causes.

I’m invited to dozens of Facebook groups, rallies, protests, meetings, even candlelit vigils for people to get together and mourn. If I were fully recovered from this surgery, I would be there. But hold a seat for me – I will be there soon.

This work is more important than ever. I will stay. I will fight. We may have lost this battle, but love will always win the war.

 14991863_1221762584549499_6836068081500602460_n

Here are a few things I read and watched that have helped in my healing: 

  • Van Jones, award-winning pioneer in human rights and the clean-energy economy, on Surviving the Whitelash: a great breakdown on what is actually at stake and what we can realistically do.
  • A message from Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace
  • From my friend Harriet Sugarman at Climate Mama in response to the news that oil and coal stocks are soaring today: “We have known for a long time that it is hard and incredibly slow to move national legislation on climate. And, in fact, we got many mixed results with Obama on energy policy. So, over the next four years, while not giving up, OUR energy can be spent on state and local policies where there is more immediate and responsive impacts possible. Nationally, we can continue to block, use the courts to slow down, etc…but the revolution and advances of renewables can’t be wiped out and fossil fuel costs don’t make economic sense so he can’t wave a magic want and move coal, even if he wants to. I know yesterday was sad but feeling so much more positive on the many things we can and will do together as we are made stronger and more people double down to help. Also and FYI found this article a good one on climate policy possibilities.” (another similar article here)
  • Triple Pundit: Sustainable Business Will Drive the New Economy, Not Trump
  • The Paris Agreement will survive President Trump
  • A bit of good news from MomsRising: “We know that we’re a powerful force when we come together. We know we are not alone. The vote last night was closer than most news reports are saying: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and major wins happened in states where our top policy priorities were on the ballot, with both Arizona and Washington state passing important measures on earned paid sick days and raising the minimum wage. In California, important criminal justice reform propositions passed as well as several local public health measures to improve childhood nutrition. On gun safety, Washington state was the second state in the nation to pass the extreme risk protection order, while Nevada now has universal background checks.”
  • The number of women of color in the senate has quadrupled
  • 1460 Acts of Love to Trump Hate (just one of hundreds of new Facebook groups popping up)

So what am I going to do next? Well, first I’m going to take a shower. Then I am going to answer all my work and personal emails. I’m going to move forward with my work both professionally and personally. I’m going to spend time with my children and their awesome friends. I’m going to spend time with my own friends. And I am looking into the process of running for committee person in my Philadelphia ward.

Love will always trump hate. It just will. Tell someone you love them. Be kind to strangers. Pay for someone’s coffee. Stand up for people’s rights. Clean up graffiti. Don’t take shit from anybody. Stay and fight with me.


“Making green and healthy living manageable, practical, and affordable.”