Hurrah! I’m beeping my car horn, banging the pots and pans, popping corks of bubbly beverages—in my heart, anyway. And I also want to throw up, which is also a normal reaction. Adrenalin is not a tummy-comfort chemical. For many of us, the sheer relief of having lived under fight, freeze or flight for four years is enough to release all sorts of biochemicals.
Of course, I called my sister in Rapid City, South Dakota, right away. “Hello, Mary? Woo-hoo!!! Aren’t you excited?” I yelled.
“Hi, what’s happening?”
“We won, we won, we won!”
“What? You mean, he’s gotta leave?”
Before this, I don’t think my sister Mary has ever told me that a phone call from me made her day. South Dakota is a Drumpf state, and my sister is one of the invisible progressives who live there. She’s not the only liberal in the region: I have plenty of progressive family and friends in North and South Dakota. I have such fond memories of growing up there, yet I also realized at a very early age that I would not be able to stay much longer. As faithful readers of this column know, I have too big a mouth—one that can sometimes get me in trouble with conservatives. To survive in the Dakotas, I would have to accept being profoundly uncomfortable on a daily basis—or drunk—to stand it.
I’ve seen the dark underbelly of the Plains States. When President Kennedy was murdered, there were kids on my playground jumping up and down, chanting, “They shot him, they shot, they shot him. He’s a Catholic, and we hate him.” Those kids didn’t conjure hatred like that out of thin air. They were obviously bitten by their family’s snake-like vitriol and injected with bigot poison. Don’t Tread on Me, my ass. You’ve treaded on us for years—go back to your burrows!
After my texting and phone calls to loved ones, I “Joy-scrolled” through Facebook, and I could see that my friends were doing the same. What a welcome antidote to “doom-scrolling!” My gay married friends, my Black, Native American and Hispanic loved ones are shedding years of angst and worry in a matter of minutes.
As a counterpoint, I peeked at the pages of some of my friends who are, to put it politely, wackos. They actually believe that Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates and the WHO are in cahoots to implant us with tracking devices. Yes, I know and love these people, even though they have bizarre world views. However, I was happily surprised by my ardent Drumpf-supporting friend, who said she welcomes the new president with open arms.
I can understand how some of these people came to their skewed version of reality. I had the gag-inducing experience of watching some of the Drumpf campaign’s nonstop “ads” about Biden, which also trotted out the tried-and-true bugaboo of socialism. While taking a long, cleansing bath afterward, I realized that if I had the level of noneducation that some of the people I knew in South Dakota had, I would be terrified of the Biden/Harris ticket. And seriously, folks, my friends are not racists; they have been ceaselessly beat over the head by propaganda masquerading as “real news” that is designed to scare the bejesus out of them. Oh, and don’t get me started on the bejesus folks who are theocracy minded. I’m not against God, although I am against the destruction of the separation of church and state.
Since the news broke worldwide, I’ve been in contact with friends in Pakistan, Israel, Germany and Norway who are all doing cartwheels. A dear friend in Heidelberg emailed to tell me that people are out on the streets celebrating. Global alliances, we’re coming home! The globe (and the environment) just exhaled.
As Americans, it is easy to be obsessed with our politics and not realize its impact on other countries. I got a potent reminder of that in 2008, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Oslo, Norway. It was right after Barack Obama’s victory over W., and everywhere we went, people—recognizing us as being obviously American—rushed up to us and asked, “Aren’t you excited?! What was it like watching it happen? We are so happy for you!” On the flipside, we were in Pakistan in 2016, right after Drumpf’s victory, and the doleful look of “how could you let this happen?” on people’s faces was unmistakable.
Taking a cue from my open-armed friend, I will do my best to not pigeonhole people who supported Drumpf. I was raised that well-mannered people do not speak openly about religion or politics. But that’s not going to stop me from banging my pots and pans, dancing, and honking my horn while I run errands in Altadena!
Ellen Snortland coaches first-time book authors! Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.