Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


One Last Thing

By last Thursday I had stopped crying at random times. When I opened the email from my CEO in my fluorescent flooded office, I was caught off-guard. After turning off notifications on Facebook and Twitter, I felt secure words wouldn’t launch their surprise attacks anymore. It wasn’t the expected and obvious continued show of discrimination, racism, sexism, and generalized aggression that drew my tears, but seeing my friends and peers comforting each other that brought my sobs.

When I opened the email I was expecting the typical corporate scrubbed, neutral content saying the company would intelligently adapt to whatever Trumplandia would throw its way. Or worse a celebration of the promised reduced corporate tax rate that would line the pockets of our shareholders. And it did start out that way. But those words gave way to acknowledging how unsafe and excluded many of us felt after November 9th. He reaffirmed that our diversity is what makes us strong, and it’s our collective broad array of experiences and willingness to share them that enable us to be successful. He said that in this moment, more than ever, we need to stand strong in our values. I wept.

A few hours later, I sat around a conference table with the upper management in our department, mostly women, one black, one a British immigrant, one a Chinese immigrant, and one a giant homo and all incredibly smart. It was the first time we were all together in person. There were several seconds of silence where our glances across the table spoke thousands of words. The walls behind our eyes crumbled for a few seconds and we shared our grief and fear, and our profound disappointment that being safe in America will continue to be a dream just out of reach for all of us. Tears welled and voices choked as we moved on to running the business. Because we are professionals and get shit done even when we are broken and battered.

It came to me then, this is my bubble. Because my religious family and friends from high school have been voting to support my oppression for decades all the while enjoying my jokes and following my travel and cooking exploits, I was painfully aware of straight white people and how little they regard the rights of anyone apart from themselves. But my office is a collection of outsiders, foreigners. My promotions have hinged on my merit. Although subtle sexism is unavoidable, I can’t say that it’s held me back in my career. This. This is my bubble. Sitting around that table, profound gratitude welled up inside my chest. And I am gutted to recall that this is not what most women experience. I am even more gutted to know that many of my fellow Americans can’t even be bothered to defend our physical safety and right to physical autonomy. They certainly don’t care about subtle sexism on the job.

The dreams started last night. In one we were in hiding. My friends and people I love. We were all in jeopardy of being taken. In the other, Jeannine and I were separated by men in uniform. My eyes memorized every small detail of the scene, hungry for what could be the last moment I see her. I knew I would cling to these last few sensations until all sensation stopped. Although the rending of my heart was potent and devastating, what I recall most is lack of remorse. My heart although decimated was unbowed. I knew that those shimmering moments we shared together, were worth it even though it lead us here. Because fleeting seconds of being truly alive are more valuable than years of dead eyed routine living the life others have prescribed.

Now, we wait. I will engage in activism of course, but I have a deep conviction that the dominoes are falling now. And there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Only luck will turn it aside.

It’s not clear what Trump himself actually thinks seeing as the words that come out of his mouth carry no meaning or truth, but here’s what is clear to me. He is a slave to his ego, a practical opportunist in service of it. I believe he seeks two ends as president, one is to line his pockets and those of his friends and family. The second is to bask in the attention and love of his devotees. It’s possible the worst of his campaign promises will go unfulfilled if the American economy continues to be stable.

But should the economy become unstable, his devotees will demand that he make good on the worst of his words. And because he cannot countenance being booed, he will take action to restore his adoring crowd.  And those actions? They could be anything. I don’t get the sense that he has any internal ethics or morals that would stop him.

Our economy could flounder for various reasons some of them primarily due to Trump and his policies and others due to structural weaknesses left in place after the 2008 Financial Crisis. It’s possible the Trump people appointed to The Fed will enforce monetary policy that will deflate the dollar causing our exports to lose value and our imports to soar. Or the banks that should have been broken up after 2008 could extend themselves yet again especially if regulations are relaxed even further, knowing they can raid the US Treasury at any time. Or Trump’s promised trade wars will bring immediate instability. Our hold on prosperity is tenuous right now, and can evaporate over night.

Apart from financial and ethical crisis at home, Trump will need a war to get reelected. Even if the economy continues at this rate of growth, his policies will not satisfy the economic needs of his fan base. Four years of fleecing the treasury and spouting off to his adoring fans will not be enough, he will want eight.

It will be most obvious to gin up military engagement in Arabic countries. Among his fan base, it will play very well to shoot the towel heads. This even without financial crisis will enable him to enact his most odious promises against Muslims here in the United States. And the people will love him for it. They will stand in line to give away civil liberties for all of us in service of their own bigotry. The war will also open possibilities to grab more power than the executive branch already has. Perhaps the precedent that FDR set will be used to get Trump and unlimited term. After all, we cannot change leaders in a time of war.

I wanted to get all these thoughts out now before they happen. I sincerely hope I am wrong. In the meantime, I will be stuffing Canadian dollars under my mattress. I will be calling my congressmen. I will be organizing with like minded people. I will be stocking an account with Euros. I will be considering growing my hair so I can “pass” at a border check. Just in case. Just in case that nightmare… It wasn’t just a dream. Just in case it was a premonition.

Oh, and I will stop communicating with the people who have spent their whole lives voting to restrict my rights. I was wrong to accept them and their beliefs. It has been twenty years that my mom has been voting to ensure I cannot marry. My dad if he had lived to election day would have voted for Trump. I know now that they were happy to take my energy, my love, my support but equally happy to take my rights, women’s rights, black people’s rights, Muslims’ rights, Jews’ rights. This isn’t a mere difference of opinion. This is an act of hostility too profound to look past.

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This is Hard. Harder than I Thought.

I think the most unnerving thing about this election isn’t limited to gay marriage, although I am gay and this effects me most directly. It’s the things Trump has said about all minorities. Registering Muslims + re-establishing law and order (in isolation could be innocuous but not along side these other things, instead looks like code for suppressing dissent over police shootings of unarmed black men) + statements re gays + choice of Mike Pense as VP + statements re women + all the white nationalist re-tweets. Any one of theses things on their own, I could dismiss. But all together? It’s a pattern.
And then when I add his statements on the media re strengthening libel laws and barring access to journalists he doesn’t like, his admiration for dictators and their ability to act unilaterally, and his cavalier attitude toward use of nuclear weapons, and the ways in which the executive branch’s powers were expanded under W? I can only come to one conclusion. It’s that American voters, the same who claim their love of freedom and the constitution, would give away their guarantee of freedom and perhaps their democracy to exclude anyone different from themselves and a false promise of jobs that will never come back.
Now, I don’t know that Trump will make good on the things he said. But you see, I understand something I didn’t before. It’s that for many of my fellow Americans, the American dream is only for them. And that they would rather risk throwing it away than sharing it with me or anyone they deem as different. And this reality? It’s more painful than I can say. And now that I see it so clearly, I know that’s it’s been there all along. And I have been dreadfully naive. And regardless of what Trump does and does not do, I won’t be able to see my fellow Americans the same way again.