*As much as I’d like to forget it, last week’s election and the interminable campaigns that preceded it contributed to a national travesty. Commentators like Van Jones have been quite articulate about the results of the election and its ramifications.
Contrastingly, I’ve been stumbling around all week, off and on, tripping over my own words and waiting to wake up from the type of nightmare I never wanted to witness. I haven’t felt like this since I was 15 years old.
In a world before CNN, the internet, or around the clock access to news updates via a smartphone, I was watching the CBS Evening News’ election returns one November evening in 1980, gathering information for a civics essay I was assigned to write. President Jimmy Carter was running for reelection, and in my parents’ eyes, the election returns weren’t worth staying up for.
“There’s no way the country’s going to elect a former actor,” my mom said of the president’s opponent, Ronald Reagan. “You should just go to bed and watch the morning news for results info before you go to school tomorrow.”
It was getting late and I was fading fast, so I listened to Mom and went to bed, looking forward to waking up and getting caught up on everything.
The next morning, I thought someone had died when I walked into the kitchen and looked into my mother’s eyes, as she paused while packing her lunch for work.
“This is going to be the longest four years of your lifetime,” she posited of what was to be President Reagan’s first term. Neither of us could have known that Reagan’s reign would last 12 long years, between his back-to-back administrations and George Bush’s election in 1988.
“You’ll be voting for president next time,” Mom told me. “Never take that privilege for granted.”
It was one of the best pieces of advice I have received to-date from my mother, and I went on to vote in every presidential election since 1984. I am proud to have helped Bill Clinton, and later Barack Obama, get elected.
As I watched last week’s returns come in, the results of an election during which only a reported 57 percent of the electorate voted, I found myself struggling to envision a world that includes a President Donald Trump. Continue reading