Like a lot of people, I witness the lockstep defense of our president's latest unhinged attack on someone or something by his unwavering supporters and I wring my hands, shake my head and think, "How could any thinking person with a brain and half a heart actually support this man?"
And then I am forced to remember ... not so long ago, I was one of them.
For the past twenty-odd years, I have been on a mission to evolve my spiritual, empathetic and compassionate side and I've made a significant effort in my life in order to advance those changes. My political side, though, has admittedly been one of the last things to evolve.
Back in 2016, I was a registered Republican as I had been since 1971 when the local committeeman came to my high school to sign up aspiring graduates. In truth, as the years progressed, I was not very politically motivated or even aware, as other life responsibilities took precedence. Besides, as my dad had frequently stated at the dinner table, one elbow on the newspaper, "They're all crooks anyway!" Armed with that shield of cynicism, I was able to deflect any implications of neglect of social responsibility, a defense heartily aided by my familiar, like-minded tribe.
Time passed and I found myself in a situation which required daily, close interaction with an opinioned co-worker. This person had a definite political inclination and was quite eloquent in his expression of the right-wing talking points of the day. As someone who always considered himself an independent thinker, it is discomfiting to admit that 20 years of listening to a daily diatribe against the left indeed shaped my own political views. My contempt was oddly comforting; it provided something on which to blame society's ills and my own shortfalls in life.
On November 8, 2016, I headed to the polls right after my work day ended. From a practical standpoint, my vote seemed to have little meaning. A red vote in an overwhelmingly blue state was purely symbolic, but it was important to me to register my displeasure with the governing elite. I carried the underlying belief that established Washington politicians of any party cared not for the people who elected them, rather throwing occasional bones to their base to ensure their enduring grasp on power and the spoils that accompanied it. I left the polls mentally spirited in the somewhat trivial statement I had just made, self-satisfied but not optimistic.
In following the evening's election results, there were a few moments of raised eyebrows but only enough to enhance the rebellious feeling that the voices of the malcontents were finally being heard. I knew and resignedly accepted that the morning would see a return to the status quo, but sometime in the middle of the night I was awakened by one of the dogs and instinctively checked my smartphone. I rubbed my eyes to try and read the words more clearly, then took a breath to process them more fully: TRUMP WINS?