On November 8, 2016, my granddaughter, daughter and I donned our pantsuits and went to the polls. Although only two of us could vote that day, we thought we were on the verge of an historic moment: the election of the first woman president. At some point very late that evening, I went to sleep sick to my stomach. Donald Trump had won.
It’s not that my candidate hadn’t come up short before. I voted for many losers: Hubert Humphrey (or maybe I didn’t vote at all because I supported Gene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy), George McGovern (I really hated Nixon), Jimmy Carter (or maybe I voted for John Anderson?), Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore (although you could make a case that he won) and John Kerry. But Hillary’s loss a year ago really stung.
I had supported Obama over Hillary in 2008, but faced with the choice between her and Donald Trump, I happily voted for the person I thought was by far the most qualified of my choices. It was inconceivable that a bully like Trump, who had ridiculed and demeaned a disabled reporter, a gold star family, immigrants, people of color, judges, war heroes, Mexicans, political rivals from both parties and women in general, would end up our president. Except he did.
I’m still pretty angry about that. Part of me believes he didn’t really win. Yes, he did scrape up 304 electoral votes, many by the narrowest of margins in the rust belt states, but he lost the popular vote 46.4 percent to 48.5 percent. He had 2,868,691 fewer votes than Hillary. I can blame the Russians or Facebook or Twitter, but a win is a win (unless he stole the election), and here we are.
Every morning since election day 2016, I wake up dreading to hear the latest tweet from a man I actually dislike more than Nixon. That goes a long way, as I really, really hated Tricky Dick Nixon. The only thing that comes close to how I feel about politics right now is my complete disgust with the political establishment in 1968. For those of you too young to remember the Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, urban riots, campus unrest and the draft, here are a few of the slogans I actually uttered back then:
- “Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
- “Dump the Hump!” (as in Hubert Humphrey – in retrospect, I apologize to that decent man)
- “Never trust anyone over 30!”
- “Make love, not war!”
- “War is not healthy for children and other living things!”
- “Question authority!”
- “Power to the people!”
- “If you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem!”
Yes, things were pretty bad in 1968 when Richard Nixon became president. The draft hung over our futures, and the war played out on television night after night. In the end, half a million Americans served in Vietnam and about 58,000 of them died.
I guess the parallel figure to Bernie Sanders back then was Democratic anti-war senator Eugene McCarthy. My friends and I supported him enthusiastically as he challenged Lyndon Johnson, the sitting president from his party. Then Bobby Kennedy jumped into the fray and was assassinated. Riots broke out at the Democratic convention in Chicago, Humphrey was nominated and this perfect storm led to the election of Richard Nixon.
Sound familiar? Just as now, the country was divided along generational and cultural lines in 1968. I was plenty woke back then and, as part of the anti-war movement, I continued to resist Nixon’s policies. Now, some 49 years later, I am once again shocked by the anger, divisiveness and chaos gripping our country. I hear the echoes of Watergate and a president who insisted, in November of 1973, “I am not a crook.” But he was. He had obstructed justice, and nine months later, he resigned the presidency.
It seems like forever that I have been living in Trump’s America, but it has only been a year. I owe it to my granddaughter’s generation to work for change. Patience. Resistance. #Nevertheless, she persisted.