somber day

Early this morning I woke in a groggy haze, still sleep deprived and worried more than usual about my son Calvin. He hasn’t been himself this past week having suffered a spate of seizures on Halloween night, a listless Saturday spent vomiting and several hours writhing in terrible pain the other night. None of it I seem to understand or have much control over. So, when I eventually sat down at my computer with a cup of strong coffee and read the news about yesterday's elections, I really felt ill.

Some of my friends are conservative, middle-aged or older white guys—good guys—but ask me if I like the fact that our diverse nation is mostly governed by them—our governors, senators and House representatives—and I'd say, hell no. We'd do so much better with a more diverse congress.

It is hard for me not to think about Calvin during political elections, to imagine what kind of young man he might grow up to be if things were different, if he hadn’t been born missing a hank of white matter in his brain, if he’d been able to talk, read, write and reason and all that goes with that, including being able to vote.

I like to imagine that he’d be no racist, no bigot, no sexist. He wouldn’t say appalling things about rape or call women whores like some die-hard politicians and talk radio hosts seem to enjoy doing. He wouldn’t be a fear monger or a hate monger. He wouldn’t be hell bent on restricting women’s reproductive rights under the “pro-life” banner then turn around and defend capital punishment. He’d support equal pay for women and the right of everyone to marry who they love. He’d understand and acknowledge his white male privilege and he'd give others the benefit of the doubt. He’d back common sense gun control policies which hurt no one and he'd fly in the face of fanatics who'd portray such as an effort to take people's gun rights away. He’d decry attempts to disenfranchise our poor, our young, our elderly, minority and female voters by condemning those bogus voter ID laws constructed on phony claims. He wouldn't believe that corporations are people and that money is free speech. He wouldn't hold the poor in contempt while voting to subsidize huge corporations and the likes of the enormously profitable NFL. We’d raise our son to be fair, compassionate and charitable. I truly believe he'd be all that.

After reading the dismal headlines I lamented that one of the many female candidates who ran, though regrettably one of the few who won her race yesterday, was a Republican hog castrater who aims to go to Washington to, in her words, “make ‘em squeal.” I wonder who she has in mind and how she got away with such unsavory rhetoric about testicles. Me thinks she listens to too much Rush, Limbaugh, that is.

To me, today feels like a somber day for so many women, a somber day for gay people, for poor people, for black people, a somber day for immigrants, for students, for the unemployed and for many more of us. I heard one winning candidate say, “It’s time to take our country back!” BackWARDS, I thought, to a time before Roe vs. Wade when pregnant victims of rape and incest died from botched abortions, to a time before the Voting Rights Act when minority voters were discriminated against at the polls, to a time where millions of fewer Americans had health insurance, to a time of failed trickle-down economics, when the banking and housing industry bubbles burst due to unbridled greed and lax regulation, to a time when illegitimate wars were fought over false claims and oil, to a time when my son could have been denied health insurance because of his preexisting condition, to a time of greater inequality.

I’m hoping that President Obama, in the face of congressional foes who have publicly claimed their promise to personally ensure his failure, which in turn hurts Americans (duh), can continue to make progress on immigration reform, can tighten corporate tax loopholes and reform tax policy so that the fast food worker isn't taxed at a higher rate than the millionaires and billionaires who rely on his or her service to profit, can raise the federal minimum wage, legalize gay marriage, demand equal pay for women, elect more impartial magistrates, can deliver health care to all Americans even when some Republican governors refused, can promise a decent education for all children regardless of their economic status, can continue his work on climate change, clean energy, infrastructure, jobs, can work toward legalizing medical marijuana, can level the criminal justice system, eliminate racial profiling and reduce the prison population. I really hope he can.

Yep, it's a somber day for many of us, but I'm heartened by the fact that there are plenty of progressive-minded people out there who want to move forward, not back. Next time we just have to get them to the polls.

Calvin, November 2004, photo by Michael Kolster


  1. You forgot re-scheduling marijuana. Amen to the rest!

  2. I'm with you every step of the way!!!

  3. I'm with you every step of the way!

  4. oh, and this: http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2014/07/08/the-best-worst-president-ever/