What have you done in the last year to respond to the upheavals in American politics? This is an installment in a series of short essays that reflect on the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency.
On November 9, at two in the morning, I turned on the computer and saw that Clinton had lost the election. My whole body shook for hours, unlike anything I had ever experienced. In the following three days, I expressed my rage on Facebook and ultimately was unfriended by someone — no loss, but it made me rethink my posts.
I slowly moved beyond anger. Facebook became a good outlet because it was where so many of my friends shared their despair and wrath. They moved to resistance and I joined them, literally, at the Women’s March in D.C. on January 21, 2017. I felt the same comradery with my daughter at the March for Science on Earth Day. The marches and Facebook reminded me, and my Facebook friends still do, that I am not alone. Seeing a video posted on Facebook of my niece, nephew, and grandnephew demonstrating at Dulles Airport against the immigration ban gave me great joy even in the sadness.
My normal life of socializing with friends and family, going to art exhibitions — such as an Andrew Wyeth hundred-year retrospective — with my husband, and visiting my daughter and son-in-law made the year enjoyable. Volunteering for interfaith and other projects at my synagogue and with other organizations helps me feel productive. Writing is tougher when I get depressed about politics, but I try to work through it, with mixed results. This fall I volunteered for the Democratic party in Virginia at the local level and handed out Democratic sample ballots to voters. We won more positions in Virginia than I imagined we would even a day before the election. As horrible as things are — and they are awful daily — I end the year more optimistic than I started it.
Breathe, live, resist and hope.
Noralee Frankel is an independent historian. She resides in Springfield, Virginia.