Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Calm Before the Polls Open--and After They Close

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I have already voted.  So, why did I wake up several times last night in a panic, thinking that it was Wednesday, thinking that I had missed the election?

I do feel somewhat sad that I will not be voting today.  But that small sadness has been eclipsed by the relief that I feel to have gotten it done--this new job has indeed been as hectic as I anticipated, and I'm glad I'm not trying to fit voting into today's schedule.

I also feel sad at the news of the death of Janet Reno, the nation's first attorney general.  I always admired her:  the way that she stood tough and showed that females could do jobs that once would have been unthinkable--and do them well.  I admired the way that she lived her life despite having Parkinson's disease.  And I loved her sense of humor--her appearance on Saturday Night Live was so wonderful.  Through the years, she was herself, in a way that few of us manage to embody our essential selves.

Can we say the same thing about Hillary Clinton?  At this point, I'm unsure--but I do believe that women like Janet Reno have made it possible for Hillary Clinton to come as far as she has.

So, here we are, in the wee, small hours of election day, the calm before the polls open across the nation.  Some of us have already voted; many of us will report to do our civic duty today.  No matter what happens--barriers once again have been smashed, and I have hopes that they cannot be rebuilt, no matter what happens today.

We have spent too many months spewing vitriol, some of us, and we've all been exposed to more ugliness than I remember seeing in any campaign season that I've been alive to see.  Those of us born after the fascist/strong man embraces of the earlier parts of the 20th century and spent our lives feeling lucky to have avoided front row seats at those debacles, we may be feeling all sorts of shivers today.

And those of us who are aware know that all the ugliness won't be over tomorrow.  How on earth can we repair what's been ripped apart?

I am an optimist at heart.  I see this election season as a hopeful one, even as it has driven so many of us to despair.  With a decision this stark, we have been forced to think about what we want.  It's not like past elections, where we basically had to choose between 2 men of similar temperaments who existed at the center of the political system.

And even if these choices don't appeal--well, I live in hopes that we are a people of dreams and visions who will say, "No, I'm not interested in what you have to offer.  Let's try this!"

We are a nation of dreamers and through our dreams, we are the repairers of the broken.  We are a nation of quilters, the ones who can stitch and patch to create a comforter.  We are the collagists who create a work of art out of all the pieces.  We are the durable ones, the sturdy ones, the ones who will not be deterred, regardless of this election day holds.

So even though the ugliness won't end tomorrow, we will be inspired to help build the communities and institutions that we want.  It won't happen with the swoosh of an election result, but with the steady determination of those who want to create something better.  We will keep our eyes on the bigger prize, our hands on the plows, and we will hold on.

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