The day after Donald Trump’s election was a tough one for me. Like many, I had believed it was a done deal. President Hillary Clinton was supposed to be a thing. I was supposed to wake to a better, brighter tomorrow.
I hadn’t slept much. Before I went to bed, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I saw it in the stunned faces of the broadcast journalists who just hours before had been crowing jubilantly about Hillary’s chances. But now we all knew different.
America had done the unthinkable. America had elected a man who, by all accounts of every expert the media could conjure—economists, politicians, career military men, four-star generals, the intelligence community and even psychiatrists—according to every last one of these “experts”, this man was not fit to lead.
I got up at my normal time, though it certainly seemed as though life should have come to a halt. I nearly cried when I looked into my daughter’s eyes that morning. But I didn’t. I let them all go to school and I sat down in my office and began searching for hope on the news sites I’d haunted for months. It couldn’t be real. But it was.
Throughout the day, I cried, I cursed, I thought of friends who would be affected by this man who somehow had been elected to the highest office of the land. What would happen to gay marriage, to the right to choose, to the environment? Oh dear God, what kind of world would I be sending my oldest into in just a year and a half? How could I protect my family from this?
And how had it even happened? How could the world be so different from what I’d believed it was?
I know now that the same thoughts were going on in the minds of many men and women throughout the nation.
As the days and weeks wore on and the inevitable became obvious to all of us, we turned rebellious. The popular vote count grew more and more disparate in favor of Hillary Clinton. Donald J. Trump didn’t win that election. We had pulled it off. Hillary won. She won among educated voters in populous areas. The problem was, she didn’t win among rural voters in states where voters were more spread out. Trump won those. Hillary won in Charlotte and Raleigh in my own state of North Carolina—but the state turned red anyway because she didn’t carry my less-populated county and many of the other mostly rural counties in my state.
Rebellion built and carried us through the inauguration. We laughed at the man who we not-so-affectionately dubbed “45” when he claimed his crowd at the inauguration was the biggest ever. We posted pictures of the record-making crowds who turned out for the historic Women’s March next to the pitiful crowd of supporters who gathered to cheer the president they had elected.
For my part, I marched. I mailed postcards. I called senators and wrote senators and I raved on Facebook and Twitter, just as I’d done for months before the election.
And in spite of this, 45 began the onslaught on my country that I’d anticipated. He appointed unqualified people to posts they should have been disqualified for. He rolled back environmental protections and, in June, pulled the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. At various times throughout his first year, 45 insulted and/or angered Australia, Mexico, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the entire continent of Africa. Germany, France and Canada have expressed distrust for his ability to make the right decisions.
Our closest friends and allies do not trust our president.
But that’s not all. Through Twitter, 45 has continuously needled the U.S. intelligence community, the U.S. Department of Justice, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, his own Secretary of State and Attorney General, members of Congress, and, especially, the media. His lack of faith and knowledge of what truly makes America great has revealed itself time and again and each time I thought, Surely, this time the American people will have had enough. Surely Congress will act and we’ll be rid of this despot.
And each time, I was proved wrong.
Meanwhile, day-to-day life continued. I went back to writing about happy things. Love, romance—fantasies that lifted me out of the carnage I saw 45 wreaking on our government. And I found that as day-to-day life settled in and we were dragged from crisis to crisis—North Korea, the media, the Russia investigation, white supremacists, the Islamic State, North Korea, the media, immigration, mass shootings, climate change, Twitter wars, racist obscenities in the Oval Office, repeated denials and alternative facts—it all became a comfortable blur as I adapted to living in a world of turmoil.
And then, three days ago, while our nation celebrated 45’s one-year anniversary in office with massive protests against him—the government shut down. And suddenly, despite the constant shouting about who is to blame, there was relative silence from 45…and I realized something.
We the People are in huge trouble. We’re like the frog in the pot of water whose temperature has been turned up so gradually he cooks before he realizes he needs to escape. The media has been so busy bombarding us with so much information about so many scandals and crises, we’ve grown numb to it. We’re cooking slowly, but we’re not going to realize it until it’s too late.
And so I pray for some ice to be added to our pot to delay the inevitable just long enough. A Congress that proves it can unite to face down evil. (I’ve seen glimmerings of hope here, though not enough.) A midterm election that Democrats somehow manage to sweep. Or—the iceberg it seems absurd to pray for because if we hit it, who knows what will happen to our democracy—Robert Mueller’s investigation turning up the smoking gun that finally brings down 45’s evil, autocratic regime.
No matter how we cast our ballots, we’re all cooking in the same pot. And unless we all jump out of it together, we’re most likely going to need that iceberg to save the boiling frog.