On the Friday after the election, I had dinner with a friend who said she was feeling afraid and that she’s considering going back to using her maiden name, which sounds like a name that would belong to a European American. Her married name belongs to her husband, who is dead and whom she is still actively mourning. To think of her feeling forced to abandon his name made me feel very sad. This is someone who was born in this country and has lived all her life here. She talked about feeling anguished for one of her university students, a Latina who left class in tears. After dinner, we were going to go to La Boheme for tea, but I decided to invite her to my place instead. I’m not really set up for entertaining and rarely have anyone over, but it seemed like a good moment to make a gesture of drawing closer.
In the ensuing days, I found myself feeling anxious, partly due to Trump’s giving the Breitbart guy a fancy job and partly due to reading about Paul Ryan being on track to get rid of Medicare. On one of those worried days, I made my next mammogram appointment. Will it be so easy next year? I also had to do my annual benefits enrollment, since I will continue on my ex-company’s payroll until the end of January, and felt a pang when I saw my former salary. My situation is more precarious now. I am lucky to live in California, where we have a robust state health insurance exchange.
I also felt briefly enraged at Kellyanne Conway for saying it’s up to Obama and Hillary Clinton to get people to stop protesting against Trump. Obama and Clinton aren’t the ones who have gone around for months spewing hateful rhetoric. It’s up to Trump to signal that no one need be afraid of him, and not only is he not doing that, so far he’s making it clear that people are very right to be worried. We now have young people committing suicide out of fear that they or their family members will be deported.
I can’t wrap my head around women voting for a person who brags about grabbing women by the genitals. I have no doubt that he did that, that every woman who has accused Trump of assault is telling the simple truth, and that there are probably dozens more such women. I can’t understand Latin Americans voting for someone who has characterized their people as rapists.
At the same time, I feel sad for those who truly believe Trump is going to bring their coal or steel jobs back—who for some reason think that a billionaire who, as far as anyone can tell, has never lifted a finger to assist anyone outside his own family, is going to make everything all right for them again. Even if he were willing to expend effort to do this, it can’t be done. It’s beyond Trump’s power to make it 1955 again, where everyone in the neighborhood and at work is white and where a blue-collar job is sufficient to support of a family of four, where men are in charge and women stay home and cook and keep their mouths shut.