In my last post, I described my mood upon awaking on November 9, the day after Donald J. Trump won the presidential election. For the record, I would like to say a bit more about that terrible day, the first day of terrible years to come.
After my pre-dawn walk, I assume I had breakfast, though I don’t actually recall having done so. As is my wont, I listened to Morning Edition on NPR, but the first time I heard the phrase “president-elect Trump” sent me into a yet deeper depression.
I was in a fog for much of the morning, having gotten so little sleep on election night. I sought to mitigate my dejection with music. I put on a CD of Prokofiev’s ninth piano sonata and followed along with the score as I listened to the music. This not only made me feel marginally better—perhaps I was only distracted—but also provided insight into one of my favorite Prokofiev piano compositions.
I thought that talking to someone might help, but the person I decided to call had been busy pricing Canadian real estate before answering the phone. She didn’t provide much solace.
I didn’t much feel like making my own lunch, so I headed out for lunch. I had planned to go to a Mexican restaurant, but, by the time I arrived there, I realized that Mexican food is not exactly comfort food. Instead, I went to Perkins, where, after a long study of the menu, I order meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and—I needed to stay awake—coffee.
While awaiting my food, I heard snatches of conversations from nearby tables. Who of these diners, I thought, had betrayed the Republic?
The meatloaf was a good choice, though the potatoes were barely warm, and the gravy insufficiently generous. I made good use of the ketchup that was on the table, however, and the corn was unexpectedly tasty. Food can indeed be comforting. I lingered over coffee before heading home.
The afternoon news coverage was replete with interviews of ignorant Trump voters, with their mean-spirited hopes and unrealistic expectations. I finally heard excerpts of Trump’s victory speech, which I had retired too early to hear live.
Trump declared that “it is time to come together as one united people,” by which he meant that the majority of voters who voted against him should drop their opposition to his presidency and programs. This was the equivalent of saying that, if you’re going to be raped anyway, you may as well lay back, relax, and enjoy it. I didn’t think so.
Wednesday evening, I had tickets to a concert at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The program seemed too interesting to skip, so, despite being in a blue funk, I decided to attend. Music might cheer me up, as indeed it had earlier in the day.
The artists were the Akropolis Reed Quintet, not to be confused with a more conventional wind quintet. All the instruments used vibrating reeds—clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone(s), and oboe/English horn. The music, which spanned the period from 1724 to 1984, turned out to be both marvelous and unexpected. The encore was “Mack the Knife,” from The Threepenny Opera. The instrumentation seemed ideal for Bertold Brecht’s music.
Before Akropolis was introduced, the manager of the concert series addressed the audience. Without any explicit reference to politics, he acknowledged that audience members might be unusually despondent. He suggested that people lose themselves in the music that was to follow. This was good advice, at least for a couple of hours.
When I returned home, I watched the post-election edition of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The program provided commiseration but not much comfort. Bee’s conclusion was that “white people ruined America.”I’m afraid she’s right.
I retired as early as I could—Full Frontal airs late—in hopes of catching up a bit on my sleep. Thursday was another day.
Postscript: I’m not sure when I realized it—it probably was not Wednesday—but the reaction to this election is strikingly different from previous ones. Whereas supporters of the losing candidate are always disappointed and searching for explanations of the unfavorable outcome, they are usually ready to pick up the pieces and move on, making the best of the situation. This time, however, Democrats (and probably some Republicans, as well as third-party voters and non-voters) are stunned and profoundly depressed over Trump’s victory. Many are anxious or just plain scared Just when it seemed that the Democrats were about to lock in the gains of the Obama years and enter an exciting period of progressive development, we are instead facing an uncertain future and a generation of regressive government.
In the end, of course, we must pick ourselves up and move on, opposing the reactionary policies of Trump and the Republicans—not one and the same—with all the political and rhetorical vigor we can muster. The fate of our Republic hangs in the balance. Victory is not assured.