Wednesday November 09, 2016
I Wanted to Be Wrong: The Morning After the Worst Night in My American Life
I forget which day it was. Last Thursday? On that day my sister phoned me with more news about our mother, who suffered a stroke at the end of September, and we'd been talking every day ever since, working on details: ER, therapy, TCU, long-term care. That day when she called, my voice on the other end was flat and lifeless. “What's wrong?” she asked. “You sound terrible.” I felt terrible. And I felt terrible about why I felt terrible. It wasn't because of our mother, because at least we could do x, y and z for her; we could keep pushing to make things better; we were involved. No, I finally said, it was the election.
“We're going to lose. Donald Trump is going to be president of the United States.”
Pause at the other end. “Nu-uh,” my sister said.
She buoyed me for a time. So did the turnaround on the numbers on 538. So did everyone's upbeat predictions on the final electoral college numbers. So did James Comey's 11th-hour declaration that the other email stuff was bullshit, too. But even that was a problem; that sent a shiver. He didn't say it right and the press didn't report it right. Headlines read things like: “Clinton Won't Be Charged”; “No Criminal Wrongdoing.” Two days before a presidential election.
I'd been feeling the doom since Comey's announcement, his bullshit intervention, on Friday, Oct. 28. That afternoon I took the 1-90 bike route to Lake Washington, then biked around part of the lake to our vet, Four Paws, to get a specific kind of cat food for our cat; I carried it back in my backpack and stopped to gaze at the lake. It was a gray afternoon and I felt gray. I also felt a cold fury inside me. But there was no outlet. There was nothing to do. Later that week I donated money to Hillary's campaign; last Saturday I knocked on doors in Capitol Hill. But that wasn't outlet enough. It felt useless.
But the day I'm thinking of was probably last Thursday after I spoke with my sister. In late afternoon I took another bikeride, this time down to the Seattle waterfront and through the Olympic Sculpture Garden and Myrtle Edwards Park. I was still trying to shake my sense of doom, but no amount of bike-riding helped. At one point, I just sat on a big rock next to the bridge that snakes over Elliott Ave. Behind me was the old Seattle PI globe, representing a now defunct profession, and in front of me was Elliott Bay, sparkling in the sun. Sailboats were out. Couples walked by with kids; women walked dogs. And I kept thinking, “They don't know. They don't know this awful thing that's about to happen.” It was like a scene in a movie. It felt like everything I was watching was about to get washed away.
I got a lot wrong in this election. I thought Trump would go down after his “I like guys who weren't captured” dig at John McCain in July 2015, and I thought Megyn Kelly got the best of Trump after the first GOP debate in August 2015. I also thought Hillary was the better choice for the Dems although maybe it was Bernie Sanders after all, in this “change” year.
In the last two weeks of the election, I wanted to be wrong again.