Waking up today, we wondered if it was all a nightmare. But, no. It was real. We moved with lead feet, speaking little, in shock. It was still early when the doorbell rang. Two young women, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Given the recent event, they said, they wanted me to know how the Bible could get me through the mourning, outcry and pain. Really? They pressed on me a pamphlet titled “How do you view the future?” With much anxiety, to be sure.
Last night, students and alums (of which I am one) gathered for a “watch event” at Wellesley College, where there was every reason to believe our famous alumna would become the first graduate to be elected President. Many dressed in white to celebrate the much anticipated break in the glass ceiling. The special souvenir flags read “making the impossible possible” and “history in the making.” By the end, it was the jubilant students who were shattered. History was indeed made, in unexpected ways, and it was Donald Trump who had made the impossible possible.
People dressed in white are now surely draped in black. The barbarian at the gates has taken over the country. The dog chased the car, caught the bumper and is now in the driver’s seat. The electoral college was to have been Clinton’s salvation even as the gap narrowed in the national polls. Now she won the popular vote for President but lost decisively in the electoral college. Her alleged “impregnable blue wall” was really a rusty chain link fence, and it gave way.
Trump’s 3:15 a.m. victory speech was unusually gracious. He praised Clinton’s long career of public service. He declared it is “time for us to come together as one united people.” He declared it is “time to heal the wounds of division” and wants to be President for all Americans. One hopes he will be guided by his words last night. (Presumably he no longer believes the system is rigged or that the Electoral College is “a disaster for democracy” as he tweeted four years ago.)
Hillary Clinton’s concession speech this morning was magnificent. She took step one in the healing process, urging everyone to come together around the idea that the American dream is big enough for everyone. That the peaceful transfer of power is a cherished principle, along with rule of law, equality in rights and dignity, breaking down barriers to opportunity, protecting our country and our planet. “We owe (Donald Trump) an open mind and a chance to lead,” she said. And so we do. She urged young women not to be crushed by this but to know that change will come. “Our best days are ahead of us,” she intoned and soothed. As the journalist’s tag line says, “it remains to be seen.”
There will be plenty of time for study and analysis. For now, we must learn to hope.
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