Anxiety is nothing new to me, but this election has added an extra layer of fear and anger to the mix. Now I lie awake at night being angry we live in a country where a few hundred electoral votes can trump (you should excuse the expression) millions of popular votes, and terrified that we will lose our ability to survive. Scary psycho-clowns are for Stephen King novels, not real life. Nightmares aren’t supposed to last 24/7, unless you’re in a concentration camp awaiting death, which is now not such a remote possibility, at least to me in my current state. A privatized dictatorship run by greedy, corrupt white supremacists isn’t a democracy, it’s a Randian dystopia, where average people like us are just pawns for profit.
Much as some people like to complain about Pres. Obama, we’ve been spoiled by the last eight years, believing we were at least making progress. Some folks are going to have a rude awakening. It used to be, you could wake up after a disappointing election and just grit your teeth and hunker down for four (hopefully not eight) years and try again next time. This is something different. It’s a worst-case scenario about to get worse, if that were possible. The best that could happen is they sabotage themselves with their own incompetence, and reasonable leaders use the few strategies left to obstruct them. It’s a pretty sad commentary on how low our democracy has sunk while we weren’t looking.
Now I wake up to a frightening reality wherein I and others in my circumstances could lose even the minimal income and healthcare we get. My current SSA income, finally given a whopping two cents cost of living adjustment after years of no change, is not even enough to pay an average low-income rent, let alone other expenses. My few (for now) healthcare needs have been thankfully paid by Medicaid due to poverty, until next year when Medicare kicks in. Medicare costs normally get deducted from your SS income. Medicare is limited in what it will cover, so you need supplemental insurance that you pay for out-of-pocket. In my case, I’m desperately hoping I’ll qualify for extra help, because there’s no way I could afford any of the above. Now even that chance could be eliminated.
People who think safety nets are some big free handout are seriously deluded. We pay separate taxes for them all our working lives, then we pay more when we’re retired on a low fixed income. In a delusional privatized Trump world, we could lose even the little financial security and healthcare we have now. And that’s just average people like me. My friend E., in a more marginalized, vulnerable group, stands to lose much more. We’re fortunate to have each other for combined financial survival, but that security is threatened in a phobic Trump reality. Her dreams have been full of dark premonitions, which is unusual for her, even with her enhanced instinct for danger.
So it’s hard to sleep, and it’s harder to wake up to a world like that. It won’t just fade out like a nightmare. I really hope I’m wrong, and the coming years are bearable for all of us. If nothing else, it’s a wake-up call to seriously change our perceptions and behaviors toward each other. Our divisions are what screwed us and allowed a charlatan to manipulate our naiveté to his own ends. We can’t all just resign ourselves to a lesser existence and let him win. But what can we do, while also trying to stay safe and survive?
Please just continue to humor me while I get this out of my system. I don’t mean to add to everyone’s already high level of anxiety. It’s a trying time of year as it is, without apocalyptic dread. We’ve all survived many threats and challenges, and smart resourcefulness will usually win out in the end. We each just need to be a little more mindful of each other than normal, while we try to get through these next few years, and maybe go the extra step to be inclusive and helpful. Bureaucratic systems can seem impregnable, but where there are sane, intelligent people who find small ways to chip away at its walls, there has to be hope. I can’t believe we’d all just cave and give up on the planet and damn our children in the process. Even lesser species don’t act like that.
So I’ll continue to wake up each morning, vent some frustration, and appreciate the little things we still have. I’m not sure I can go as far as Anne Frank, with her childlike faith in the human race, because my confidence has worn thin. But millions have lived and continue to live under far more terrible conditions, and keep their spirits and hopes up, so I should be able to come around. I don’t just live for myself, after all. I have to be strong, or at least stubborn, for those who have even more to lose.
As always, any input is welcome.