A train journey, when trying to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’, becomes a space to get things done. Unfinished tasks pop up-like Android calendar notifications, annoyingly jumping into consciousness when in the middle of something else. Try to swipe them away, and after many attempts -red x, Red X, RED X – they finally disappear. The finger across the touch screen dims the notification, but the pressure just moves out of view. On the mobile – very aware, not only of my volume, which as an American in London must be monitored, but also– of my accent. I wished I didn’t have to speak to anyone. Like so many moments over the last twenty years I worried quietly, blushed openly and waited tentatively; wondering when people would hold me responsible. I finished my call and looked up, diminished.
We elected Trump – the only time since my mother died twelve years ago – that I have been broken.
A woman across the aisle, European – dressed intelligently, professionally – not staring, not turning away. I wondered if she was French? Does she experience this feeling when the police enforce the removal of a burkini? Unlikely. I, though, am born of the ‘World Super Power’. If we don’t, we’re wrong. If we do, we’re worse.
Despite all the protections against bedraggled that my environmentally unfriendly, made anywhere but here, 100% polyester wardrobe provided – both my clothes and self were crumpled. Feeling shrunken, tattered – my eyes crinkled and filled with tears. She smiled, kindly – a form of polite exoneration as if to say “It’s not you.”
Twitter notification, reflexively turn: “Relax everyone, it’s not the end of the world. According to the latest polls.”
+4, +2, +7 for the first woman Presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton. My partner, the queen of turning an ERII pound coin into an Elizabeth Fry fiver (at least!) – although the last few years of Man United probably made it all level – asked ‘Should I put a bet on 53% of the popular vote?’ Didn’t think it would hurt – albeit Barack Obama only made it to 52.9% – but 75-90% predicted odds in favour of green energy, gun control and civility? In hindsight, we talked too long about this. It should have been an easy yes, even if we lost. I didn’t ask her if she placed the bet. There are triggers, that would be one.
Article 50 would be another. Cameron – up in the polls – felt safe playing down to the base (instincts) as he aimed a referendum right-wing at the target – UKIP voters. At breaking point, Nigel’s Middle Englanders, longed to take back control. Britain First! The tattooed arms punched the flag of St George high as 52-48% results to leave were confirmed. David stepped aside as the newly unelected Theresa May – answered the loaded question, ready to shoot the sterling bullet into the heart of the Eurozone – ‘’Brexit means Brexit.’
Very proud I only lost one virtual friend to the In/Out debate – my wife’s ex – kind of both dimwit and prat in our tit-for-tats. For the US election, we abided by the rule that all views should be respected. I was that annoying Facebook friend – reading everything – didn’t discuss an issue unless trying to understand, at least, both sides of it. We had a system, kind of like comedy parents. We wouldn’t comment directly, instead start a different thread on our own page. ‘Murray, tell your father to pass the salt.’ ‘Dad, mom said can you pass the salt?’ ‘Tell your mother I will pass the salt, when I am done!’ It didn’t matter anyway, really. We all knew who was going to win.
As the tax avoiding, draft dodging, racist, sexist, uninformed, reactionary, fraudsterwiped the sides of his mouth – encrusted with bile and rhetoric – clean, the Conservative meme-onisation, driven by political social media site Breitbart misinformation believers, shouted ‘Hang that nigger’, ‘Jew-S-A’, ‘Lock her up!’ and ‘Build the wall!’
This stacked up nicely with the Liberal ‘news’ expositors punditically focused on the dogma of ‘the lesser of two evils.’ I’m sure it made sense over coffee at Starbucks for college educated Democrats who didn’t ‘Feel the Bern’ not cast a vote. 42% of Americans overall opted for appeasement in the non-action of boycotting their franchise rights. As such the third-rate Reich won.
Politics, ‘the art of the possible,’ meant that ‘Whitelash’ triumphed. Caucasian men and women united and ‘drained the swamp’ clearing it for a bog-standard twit – with no character – who in 140 letters (probably all thumbs), tweeted about his Cabinet decisions “I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”
Finalists? Is this reality television? Perhaps a beauty pageant?
Trains pulled in to an assortment of stations across the divided Kingdom. My pre-booked cabbies – needed to talk to me. Must be the main stream media. Conspiracy theorists. Socialist Left. AltRight. Combined with a relief that something had supplanted Brexit, they empathised again and again – regardless which suspicion was held – that it had not been the American people. ‘It’s not you.’
My American lamentables reinforced this in their own minds. The victorious Right ranting as they claimed the immoral high ground. The flagellating Left booing and protesting as they waived their own responsibility. Railing, the suffering fools on both extremes, exclamating ‘It isn’t us, it’s them!!!’
All I could think of was the popular vote winning loser – who’d inspired so much of my life – who said we’d be Stronger Together. Notification – green arrow, Green Arrow, GREEN ARROW. ‘The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.’ My eyes, resolute, filled again. Maybe it wouldn’t all be bad. Only four years – we would survive this. Despite flared tempers, we would find common ground. These blips of idiosyncratic rage would calm. I felt sure that I’d live to see a woman as President, albeit not the one I wished for.
Notification – ‘Marine Le Pen storms into the lead in French election polls!’ Well, maybe sooner than I’d expected…
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