I am almost 60 years old. I've seen and been involved with many campaigns and elections. Experienced exhilaration and agonizing disappointment. But this...last night...this is different.
This one hurts. This one makes me physically ill. And it's not like I was a huge Hillary fan. I respect her. I've always thought she was one of the most unfairly maligned figures in public life these past 30 years or so. But last night was the first time I ever voted for her. Twice in the Connecticut Democratic primary, in 2008 and 2016, I voted for her opponent.
But this one has taken the wind out of my sails. I'm angry, disgusted and I'm afraid.
Maybe it's being the father of a gay son. Maybe it's having a gay sister, and wondering what life will be like for her and my sister-in-law in a deep red state.
Maybe it's having another son who is working a job without benefits who is relying on the Obamacare exchange to be able to afford medical coverage.
Or maybe it's witnessing the torrent of hate and ugliness that has been unleashed around the country during the campaign season, knowing that bullying, intolerance and worse will become more prevalent.
It's all that and more. We are going to take so many steps backwards in this country, civil rights, climate change, consumer protection, development of alternate, clean energy. We are quickly going to become the world's most powerful dinosaur, circa the time the giant meteor is about to hit.
The banks and Wall Street are about to run over all of us again. No protection from the federal government. Help with college costs and tuition? Forget it. You thought the EpiPen sticker shock was outrageous? Get ready, we are about to be fed once again to insurance companies and drug companies.
But mostly it's the promise of America that died last night. Or at least went into a coma. Last night told us that the American Dream is not intended for certain people. Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans, gays, transgender, no American Dream of being created equal for you.
Tonight my wife showed me her Facebook feed. People upset and relating stories of how upset their kids are. The children wondering how someone so mean, such a bully, could become President.
And one woman kept responding. Kept saying that all this anxiety could not be coming from the kids watching the news, or listening to what was going on around them. It had to be coming from the parents. She told the parents essentially to suck it up, that the country was getting the change it so desperately needed, so everybody hang in there. Yeah, like you all hung in there with Obama when he came to office in 2009 with the country in such dire straits.
And it got me to thinking. What is this change the country so desperately needs? Let's hearken back to days of yesteryear, oh let's say January 2009. Barack Obama becomes President. The banks and world financial system are teetering on the brink of total collapse. 700,000 Americans a month are losing their jobs. People are losing half the value of their retirement accounts and college funds. The iconic American automobile industry is circling the drain. The annual budget deficits are at 1.2 trillion, with a "t", dollars. And that's just the domestic problems.
Fast forward to November 2016. After nearly 8 years of President Obama the country has seen over 70 consecutive months of private sector job growth, the longest streak since they started keeping such statistics. Financial institutions have recovered; American automobile companies are thriving; incomes for average people are finally moving upwards,; the annual budget deficits have been cut by about 2/3. We won't even get into "General Motors is alive and bin Laden is dead", or the 20 million Americans that now have health care coverage.
Okay and I know things are far from perfect. Too much of the recovery has gone to the top. But that is largely due to forces and policies that were already in place, not by design of the Obama plans. And the recovery has finally begin to hit the middle and working class as well.
So when you contrast January 2009 with November 2016, one has to ask, what change do we so desperately need that is not already in place and that requires turning our backs on large segments of our fellow citizens?
I'll admit I don't get it. But maybe that woman on Facebook can explain it to me. I'm sure it's as clear as the color of the nose on her face.