I've been thinking a lot about 2016.
That election year and all that happened. All that folks were shocked about. The end result.
I was just into my seminary studies and had worked the day before as an Election Judge. Now, to be fair, I was busy that summer. It was the literary circle, pivoting my work so that I could study full-time, being on a long trip to Denver with the family, hanging out at Strand, honestly, living our lives.
We were like so many during the 2008-2016 season of American possibilities. Something gave us a sense that surely, surely, surely this country would not turn a dark, dark corner after enjoying these years. Were they perfect? No, because no man is perfect. There are some that are disappointed in that president. But those were breathing years. Even in the midst of Cincinnati and Ferguson and Baltimore, those were still years that we did not have to worry about a coup.
Now, I am well aware of the evil puppet master who held a lock grip on the Senate those last few years. This same puppet master that his constituents put back in for a 7th term. I know that the enthusiasm that was a wave in 2008 was a drip by the midterms. People were missing the big picture for the small screen.
Bubbly up behind that, before smart phones captured our every move through video, was a growing sense of unrest in a part of American that again, many thought was yesteryear. It was the perfect setting for a narcissistic wannabe dictator to swoop in and stoke fears like the carnival barker he is.
And he was successful, maniacal, masterful,
Because he started this in 2008.
Saw it as an opening. He is, after all, an opportunist and a grifter. He saw a crack and tapped, tapped, tapped enough to shatter all images of decency in American politics.
The thing was, the rest of us thought that surely, surely, surely the country would not fall for this failed businessman and barely relevant reality star.
But so many of them did.
The statistics are wavering, depending on who is reporting. What is sure is that a majority of the women who fawned over him voted for him. A majority of the men his age voted for him, All of them had power in their sights. Or perhaps it was fear.
They needed the worse image of the American man to replace one whose background and skin hue just could not lead to more of a sea change. Definitely not a woman. They had to reclaim their shattered egos and he was the way to get it done.
The puppet masters knew he was a walking dunce cap and if they just stoked his ego, he would use his big sharpie and sign whatever they put in front of him, especially if it was something that sun kissed man did when he sat behind the big desk.
So, that fateful day in 2016 left me with a sinking dread.
My youngest daughter was in middle school. She felt it. We all felt it.
Reality was worse than a scary movie from my teen years in the 80s.
Then, something happened.
A sea change of people who refused to let this continue.
First, 2018. A surge of possibilities.
Maybe, just maybe, something other than the last dying embers of hate and fear would fizzle out. End.
It was contentious, and still is, this thing in 2020.
Beyond the pandemic and so many lives, rests what we are clinging to. Hope.
Another sun kissed man, many moons ago, also sought to be a face of change in this land. He did not make it to that big desk, but he left it ajar for what could be. In so doing, he admonished us, reminded us, implored us, to keep this thing called hope alive, ever present before us, clinging to what could be in the better of our souls.
In 2020, we saw that turned into action.
Not perfect, but for the first time, we have an image of the this-could-be America. A man who slowly and steadily put his rhetoric into practice, far from perfect, but willing to learn, grow, change, And a woman whose story could only be possible in a place like this, from two sun kissed stories that etched lines in dreams here, far from their origins. And she came. Like me, same age, same time in college, same generational impact. And she came.
So, this morning, reflecting back and looking forward, I am standing on the side of hope.
Not a ok, we did it, time to go back to regularly scheduled programming hope. No, I'm looking into the hope of my daughter's generation that through a multihued tapestry of purpose, they will be more than a dream.
But we have to work at it, all of us.
That is where I am resting this morning, as the sun peaks through the barren trees in my east coast home, I see life emerging around me. In the cold of coming winter, we have a chance to cocoon, to rest for the work ahead, come January, and see a brighter day.