Most days lately, Jennifer asks me if I’ve heard about a recent development in the national political scene. There’s a bevy of stuff to discuss: Every day either Trump is doing something stupid, trying to explain something stupid, or experiencing the fallout of something stupid. Every unfurled incident seems to be a step toward impeachment or resignation. And though I agree that his failure is virtually inescapable, it’s unsettling to live in a world where I am looking forward to a Pence presidency.
In the rare case there aren’t any executive branch snafus during a given 24-hour period, Jennifer tells me about the protests around the country. I know about these, usually, but she’s always tied to social media and has a real-time approach to the events. I gave up social media in November, figuring I’d wait until someone noticed. After several weeks and no one noticed, I figured that was typical. I guess I just don’t care what people have for breakfast, and I’m not interested in arguing with people I haven’t seen in twenty years.
So one day, a bunch of constituents showed up at one Senator’s house and demanded he stop acting like a baby. Another day, lawyers set up shop in the airport, hoping to score income from the downtrodden who can’t get back into the country. It goes on and on like that.
Thinking I had some information Jennifer didn’t, I told her someone put up a large “Resist Trump” banner on the foot bridge over I-94. She said another one of our neighbors put up an “All are Welcome Here” sign, and I told her the woman across the street taped an “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” sign in her porch window. “It was too small for me to read it,” I explained, “so I got out the binoculars to see it.”
Jennifer asked if I had seen the “All Are Welcome” mural on the park fence a few blocks away. A few neighbors tied colored rags to the chain link, slowly morphing from one hue to the next unto the three words and a heart icon formed a complete Roy G. Biv rainbow. “It’s kind of a contradiction emblazoning ‘all are welcome’ on a fence,” I said, trying to be smart, “Since a fence, pretty much by definition, is saying someone’s not welcome.”
Jennifer didn’t like the joke, and said that fence is to ensure the children from the local elementary school don’t run off the grounds onto the streets.
“I hope all this stuff amounts to something,” I said.
“It will,” Jennifer said, with uncharacteristic optimism. “The country really isn’t taking this anymore.”
“Well, I wish they would’ve woken up four months ago. People are so like that. They wait until it’s too late, then they try to fix the problem.”
I then drew several parallels to history – the Nazis, of course; Nixon, of course; Bush v. Gore, of course – and point out that most adults don’t even have the wherewithal to recall the important events from the previous summer, much less the previous election cycles or previous decades.
Jennifer said this time it might be different. “There’s social media now. People can find out about everything, right away. And they can travel faster and get information out quickly, and they’re calling out those stupid congressmen who don’t do their jobs. No one’s happy now.”
“Well, some people are happy. Trump supporters are happy – some of my coworkers think he’s Jesus, for Christ’s sake. And all those Bernie-or-Bust supports must be happy. They didn’t get Bernie, but at least they got Bust.”
She did like that joke.