I almost can’t tell this story, because it hurts too much. But it’s a hopeful story too, so I’m going to go with that.
Squish and I are now the only two people in the car in the morning. (And the dogs, of course.) It used to be Zoomboy, Big T and I–we’d drop T off at the bus stop. Then ZoomBoy went to junior high and it was Big T and Squish and I.
Now T has moved into an apartment with Chicken, and it’s just me and my baby.
My baby finally gets my undivided attention.
“Mom, should we hate Republicans?”
I am startled. Yes–this election has been bitter, but Mate and I have all sorts of friends. Some of them are Republican, and they know I’m liberal, and we just don’t talk politics.
“No, hon. Republicans are people–we shouldn’t believe what they believe, but we shouldn’t hate them.”
“Why would they even want to vote for Trump? I don’t understand. He says mean things about everybody else we love. Except, you know, the Republicans.”
“It’s called dog-whistle politics, honey. Dogs are trained to respond to the whistle because they have no language. People who don’t think critically about words and meaning, or about the way the world fits together, hear a rich white man speaking, and they think they need to respond to him. That’s how your dad and I think the Republican party has worked for a while. It’s why it makes us so mad.”
“But we shouldn’t hate them?”
“No. With the exception of Trump–and some of the people around him–most Republicans just want to run the country. In elections past, it’s been a difference of how they thought it should be done. But at the end, you had hope that the person in charge was at least trying for the biggest number of people to be happy.”
“Oh, so, like in soccer. Where both sides fight hard, but at the end you say good game.”
“Yeah. Exactly like that.”
“But liberals were better than conservatives.”
“Mom and dad think so. But it didn’t used to be so divisive.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, it used to be a difference of philosophies–“
“Like one person likes french fries and the other likes mashed potatoes with butter?”
“Sure.” (What can I say–as a family, we really like potatoes.)
“What’s it like now?”
“Like one person likes french fries and Trump wants to kill everybody else with fire.”
“Does he really?”
“We don’t know. That’s why it’s scary.”
“Should we hate Trump?”
“No, but I do.”
“He’s really mean.”
“He’s said something awful and demeaning about pretty much every person we love. And women too.”
“I know. I said that already. Is that why you voted for Hillary?”
“She’s the most qualified candidate I’ve ever voted for. That alone should be the reason.”
“I hope she wins.”
Well, we all know how that turned out.
And she cried, bitterly. She’s ten–she saw the unfairness of it. I cried too. We changed the channel– watched @midnight, because Chris Hardwick always seems to know how to use humor to make it better–without forgetting it exists and reminding us that we can change it.
When that was over, she went to bed and I sobbed on my husband until I couldn’t breathe.
It’s not fair. I thought better of my country. I thought better of people in power. I thought better of my friends and neighbors. This was not a joke, this was not reality TV–this was how my children are going to grow up.
But they are going to grow up.
They’re going to remember this.
I’m not suddenly going to start voting for idiot liars because they’re white men. I’m not suddenly going to drop my friends or tell my children to drop their friends or tell them to treat people badly because our friends are people of color. I’m not going to believe people are less than people because the weenie with the launch codes thinks it’s cute to demean people with disabilities. And I’m not going to stop writing gay romance or working for marriage equality because an anti-LGBTQ nazi is in the white house. Every story I write, every happy ending I craft, is going to carry with it the subtext that our world can be, should be MUST BECOME a place where this happy ending can occur.
And someday, my children will be old enough to effect change.
And they’re going to remember that Hillary didn’t give up.
And mom didn’t stop being liberal.
And our house was a place where you didn’t hate anybody for their politics.
But you didn’t dog-whistle knee-jerk for a goddamned soul.