I am mulling over the idea of participating in the women’s march scheduled to take place in Washington DC on January 21, one day after the Presidential inauguration. The march is meant, not so much to protest a President who, willingly or unwillingly, will be my President for the next four years, but to send a signal that a majority of women will not take any assault on women’s rights of any kind lying down.
I came back to a country I have a hard time squaring off with my California bubble. I jokingly spoke of secession but that will not be necessary: I live in a state headed by an extremely liberal Governor, with Democrats controlling all branches of the legislature and every single office in between. Immigrants will not be deported from here because the Police forces have already stated they will not comply. I am sure our government is busy devising a strategy to keep healthcare in place should the federal law be repealed. Abortions will keep on being performed.
Avocado on toast will keep on being served along green juices. California will go on and, possibly, keep on thriving.
But there are much subtler and more pernicious consequences to what happened on November 8, when it comes to the individual sphere. Yes, I, and like-minded people, are worried about what kind of havoc a Trump presidency can wreak on our country and the world at large, but I am referring to the daily minutiae I didn’t pay much attention to a mere month ago.
When I prepare dinner, I don’t turn the news on any longer – I can’t take the parade of jokers, racists or the merely incompetent being normalized by news reports. I choose silence and Portia’s snoring as a soundtrack to my sweating onions.
I can’t claim to know how people in my immediate circle of friends voted but, the majority, those I talk and commiserate with, belong to my tribe. Those who don’t, I haven’t found a way of dealing with yet, so I keep my distance (I have unfriended a couple on FB).
Many pundits, journalists and thinkers from all corners, are calling for dialogue, for trying to understand the other side; some are willing to give this administration the benefit of the doubt. Now that the shock has waned, I am finding that I, a lifelong pacifist always eager to hear the opposition, at this junction, cannot. I hang on to the anger and the dismay: I want to stay appalled and outraged. I want to be surrounded by my tribe and not give an inch.
I am surprised. Being the product of a political system – the Italian one – that has thrived on corruption and malfeasance since the days of Imperial Rome, I should be inured. Having watched and laughed from afar at Silvio Berlusconi, and his antics, ruling my country of birth for nine years, I should have been better prepared for what has befallen America. Instead, I am still in a stupor of incomprehension and unwilling to lift the veil.
In my teens, I marched for peace and nuclear disarmament; for women’s rights and parity, and my moral backbone is not in a compromising mood. Maybe all of us, in our liberal cocoon, needed this to fully see the scope of the work that still needs to be done. Because, no, I don’t hate those who don’t think like me – if anything, I would like to protect all those who voted against their self-interest – but I cannot, and don’t want to, tolerate or engage with those who bully, who disrespect, who are openly racist towards fellow-men and women or just went along with it, claiming “it’s not me but we need change”. Not at such a cost we don’t. And please, do not tell me about your gay uncle or black friend. They are not disclaimers and do not elevate you out of the muck.
I certainly don’t have an answer to what ails us and I am aware the problem extends far beyond the United States. All I know is that now, at this moment, I need my tribe around me so that we can fight, united, for what we believe in. And the operative word is fight.
Top image: following the death of Alton Sterling, a protester is arrested – NBC News