These are weird times.
Our apartment building in Cleveland, where we are every other weekend when we come in from Chicago to see our disabled son living in a group home, has a TV room or party room or whatever it is -- they call it The Den. I'm up in the morning before my wife and after I get tired of sitting in the coffee place across the street, I walk back to the building and sit in the den watching the news, which always includes plenty about Trump, before going back to our apartment. Usually that's on Saturdays and Sundays, and there's never anybody else in it.
We were in Cleveland on a rare weekday to take our son to a medical appointment. When I was sitting in the den, an older gentleman was about to come in and saw me through the glass door, and then walked off. A little while later, a younger guy entered and quietly asked if it would be okay if he and a few others came in to do their morning prayers, telling me this is what they did in that room every day. I said sure, and would the TV bother him if I turned it down, or should I turn it off? He said the TV was fine. Soon after, the others joined him, including the older guy. They were Middle Eastern, and Muslim.
As they were getting ready, putting their rugs down, I felt the need to say, “By the way, I despise Donald Trump.” They chuckled quietly and went about their prayers. Then my phone dinged, which was my wife letting me know she was up, and I headed out.
When I told her about it, she said that she had been in the elevator in our building and had a brief conversation with a woman in a hijab. Just after the woman exited, she found herself wishing she’d said something similar.
The day before we drove to Cleveland, I was in our local grocery store, being checked out by a Hispanic woman whom I’ve noticed in the past to be chatty and upbeat. On this day, she smiled a bit, but otherwise, just gazed down, and seemed down. I felt like saying something, but what? Maybe I was reading too much into it, or imagining things. But maybe not.
I’m a middle aged white guy, solidly in that demographic that got Trump into office. I’ve never been more embarrassed about it. Sure, middle aged white guys are responsible for most of our country’s ills. But even if I’ve been aware of that forever, I don’t remember feeling the need to apologize for it. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean because I voted for Trump. Hell no. And I didn’t stay home, or vote for a third, fourth or 10th party candidate either.
But I can’t help but wonder -- do strangers who feel as sickened as I do by the current situation look at me thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if that middle aged white guy voted for the national canker sore?”
I know I do. Middle aged white guys look a little different to me now. With women, I can still allow myself to assume something better, even if they surprised us by going the wrong way in numbers higher than expected.
But my fellow “brethren?” I’ve never felt more revolted by us. No. By them. And many of “us” are feeling the same way.
And many of “them” would think I was nuts apologizing to a room of guys who they consider terrorists or, at best, terrorist sympathizers. To them, it makes me a terrorist sympathizer too, or at best a liberal pansy dolt.
Demographically, compared to many others, I have less to worry about (but not the least though – I’m not in that tax bracket) in the Land of Trump. My son with severe autism, however, will need to rely on others for his well-being forever – and the winds of change in the realm of services for guys like him are blowing icy cold these days.
I find myself wondering: If I’m looking around suspiciously at strangers, wondering what they did on November 8, wondering where their heads are at, and I’m in the always-easier majority, what must it be like for Trump’s targets?
So I feel the need to let them know.
I despise him too. And his henchmen.
I also know that my layer of fear isn’t anywhere near as thick as theirs.
I count the days until we are rid of him, the sooner the better.
Then we will at least have a chance to begin healing this national infection.
Because now we actually do need to make America at least better again.