I’m so exhausted, you’d think I’d been running into the mob to take photos; although I was only sitting at home watching it on television. It’s one of the expected physical responses to trauma. I’m weary, and like many, I want this insanity to end.
The problem is that we are at the end of an abusive relationship, and that is always the most dangerous time. The abuser, knowing that it is over and they have lost, has no more limits. There is no reason to put up a pleasant facade, to try and paint a picture that everything is ok, really.
Everything is not okay. Really, really not okay.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that the president is an abuser, and that we have all been hurt, and many killed, by the actions (and inactions) of this administration. But it is another thing to understand that our whole government, our culture is abusive, and that we are at the moment of breaking free.
When I was up much too late on Tuesday night, waiting for the contests to be called in the Georgia runoff, I was thinking about my late father-in- law. He was a case history in what makes a slave. While his flagrant use of the n-word didn’t even raise an eyebrow in Dalton, Georgia, I let him know I thought it was revolting. Every time he tried to call me a Yankee, I reminded him that I lived farther south than he did. What was remarkable about the man is that even though the Bush Administration had ruined him by taking over, and then closing down, a bank he legitimately owned (remember the old Saving and Loan scandal of George Bush the First?) he would never vote for a Democrat. He was a proud Republican, loyal to his masters, grateful to be humiliated and left bankrupt, and still voting his abusers into office on every ballot.
That solid red map of the north Georgia precincts? Towns where people don’t have municipal sewage or trash pick-up? All you have to do is say “socialism,” and they sink into the floor.
It’s going to be trying. It’s going to challenge all the norms, push back on assumptions and make us wonder what we are doing. It takes time to recover from an abusive relationship. Many end up going back, because it’s hard to be independent when you have been brainwashed to feel you are incompetent. It’s hard to take care of yourself, take care of others, when your self esteem has been totally debased. Look at Alabama, look at West Virginia.
On the other hand, many do make it. Even decades of abuse can be overcome. Look at Germany, look at Spain. Sometimes just looking back over your shoulder you can allow you the distance and the space to see how bad it was. Sometimes that hindsight is clarity.
But hindsight is not always 20/20. There are still – I imagine there always will be- folks who seem to see the past through a filter of fantasy. Neither the 1950s or the 1850s were a golden age. Anyone who claims they were is embracing ‘alternative’ facts.
The attack on the Capitol should not have surprised anyone. That treasonous mob was on the way since the beginning of November.
November of 2016.
It’s kind of relief when reality breaks through – when what is ugly is seen as ugly, instead of being painted over with a layer of pretense. Then we can get into the real work of repair – perhaps even renaissance.
The thing that will make this time different is not (although I hope for the best) the shift in government. Once Biden and Harris are inaugurated, we will have some more space to move. What will make this time different is the number of people who have become politically involved, who have committed to change on the ground, who are looking at the things in their own lives that have made this four year long nightmare possible.
So, just a few more days, and there is a chance to break free, a chance to really recover.
When we get enough distance to look back at 2020, we might see some things in a while new light – a light that will show us what real democracy looks like.