Ever since election night 2016, I’ve been holding my breath. The Russian propelled election of Donald Trump to the presidency was, for many, a traumatic event. Every day since that terrible night, we have seen ever deepening shadows of oligarchy, tyranny, and torture.
As the litany of horrible words and deeds has spilled forth from Mr. Trump and his sycophantic entourage, I have feared for our country, for the future of our representative democracy, for the rule of law.
Long before he took the oath of office, Mr. Trump sought to exploit our differences and divide Americans, to turn us into a nation of bitter rivals who talk past each other, excoriate each other, and see governing as a zero sum game.
If there had been the slightest hope that a President Trump would exceed expectations and become a statesman after the election, that hope was extinguished on Inauguration Day when Trump gave his “American Carnage” speech. His presidency, like his candidacy, would be that of a demagogue. He would play, relentlessly and unashamedly, to his base.
And if there was ever a ray of hope that members of his own party, the majority in both houses of Congress, would stand up to Trump’s recklessness, that ray was likewise extinguished when it became clear that McConnell and Ryan and their respective caucuses would turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to any wrongdoing. They transcended mere enablement; they became Trump’s confederates.
Over the last two years, the resistance has grown – the Women’s March, the rise of Indivisible Groups, the special elections that saw Connor Lamb win a seat in Congress and Doug Jones elected to the Senate from Alabama, the many triumphs in local elections held in cities and towns across the country, and the abundance of new leaders rising to the occasion, running for office and speaking truth to power.
But through it all I’ve held my breath. It hasn’t felt safe to exhale because the House and Senate committees on Intelligence have concealed the truth about the Trump-Russia labyrinth, because the senate Democrats have been helpless to stop the Federalist Society’s hostile takeover of the judiciary, and because our president has routinely offended our allies and catered to our enemies, often expressing his desire to emulate them.
Now, a little over three weeks out from the mid-term election, I dare to hope that I can exhale, that our nation will reject Trumpism and its cruel treatment of immigrant children, of the elderly and disabled, of Gold Star mothers and prisoners of war, of those poisoned by lead in their drinking water and others decimated by hurricanes.
I dare to hope that our nation will, in the words of our sixteenth president, be touched again “by the better angels of our nature,” that a government “of, by and for the people,” will not perish from this earth.
So I will vote and continue to volunteer and contribute. I will lend my voice to the resistance and persist in speaking my truth. We cannot endure two more years of unchecked tyranny. Until the polls close on November 6, I will not relax. I cannot exhale.