In just a few hours Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. For weeks now, following the election, you’ve been saying,
“Well, at least we still have 56 more days with President Obama!”
“37 days left with Obama!”
“He’s still our President for another week.”
“Another 5 days.”
“Two days left…”
And now here we are. Another 12 hours, give or take.
On the morning after the election, the first thing you said in the dark of your room when I came in to wake you was, “Who’s the President?” I remember that I struggled to even speak his name.
At 6 and 8 you were aware of the political climate in a way that I never was at your age. You knew who the candidates were and, although you don’t understand terms like foreign policy or healthcare reform, you knew what they stood for. You knew, on an admittedly basic but perhaps the most important level, what was at stake on November 9th. And I was so grieved to tell you who and what had won the night before.
I don’t think that I was necessarily naive going into the election. I know the ubiquitous if often undetected nature of White supremacy that masquerades under the cloak of other, more palatable things like “economic hardship” and “Supreme Court appointments.” I know because twenty years ago I’m sure I would have considered voting for Trump under the guises of those things myself, or at the very least abstaining lest the liberals win out. No, it wasn’t that I didn’t think he could win. It was just that I had allowed myself to hope so ardently that he wouldn’t win.
I know that you don’t understand everything that is going on and that you are trying to puzzle it all out and make sense of it. You haven’t read the Harry Potter series yet, from which we got one of your names, but you will soon and it might help us to think of this election as Book Four.
Books 1, 2, and 3 are full of the good fight. Harry and Hermione and Ron battle the evil forces of the terrible Lord Voldemort and at the end of each of those first three books, they escape the clutches of the dark lord in a narrow but decisive victory.
At the end of fourth book, though, things take a turn. In Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire, our heroes have been fighting valiantly for four long years and this time the dark side WINS. It wins. Cedric Diggory dies and the dark lord rises again.
It was devastating. Not because we didn’t know the depths of the darkness embodied by Lord Voldemort at the end of book 4 but because we had allowed ourselves to believe that no matter how grim things got, the side that was fighting for beauty and truth and life would eventually win out over that which manifested fear and ugliness and death.
But it didn’t happen.
And last November Hillary Clinton didn’t win. We chose instead someone who has been cruel and petty and spiteful and behaved in ways that are deplorable and unbelievably unkind. It shouldn’t have surprised us. Not really. But it’s still desperately sad.
That’s why people are crying. That’s why people are angry. That’s why people, the four of us included, are going to take to the streets this Saturday. Because that’s the work of Books 5, 6 & 7. The Harry Potter series didn’t end with Book 4. The darkness won in The Goblet of Fire, yes, but the story didn’t end there. There were still three more books yet to come.
Donald Trump will be inaugurated tomorrow. And we have no idea what is to come. But we do know this: the story doesn’t end there. We get to live out the next three books. We might be sad and scared and angry but there’s a good fight ahead. A fight for the destruction of unjust systems and oppressive tyranny. A fight for kindness and generosity. A fight for love and joy and peace.
Come, grab your wands!