What if we could roll back the clock to prevent certain events from occurring?
I think about this question a lot, even more so since the election of 2016.
Like nearly everyone I knew, I was devastated. It was like having trouble catching my breath after a gut punch. I was so sure that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president, the first woman in that role in the history of our country. She would have taken her oath of office had it not been for the Electoral College and an even more sinister finding of Russian interference. She lost the election to Trump by 74 electoral votes despite getting 2.8 million more popular votes.
She recently shared with the world the speech she had planned to give. It was about unity and coming together as one nation. I teared up when I heard it.
“My fellow Americans, today you sent a message to the whole world: Our values endure, our democracy stands strong and our motto remains ‘E Pluribus Unum’—out of many, one,” Clinton said. “We will not be defined only by our differences. We will not be an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ country. The American Dream is big enough for everyone.”
Instead of a servant leader, what we got was a would-be dictator. We have devolved into a very much “us” versus” them” country. While there were always divisions along racial, class, religious, gender, and political fault lines, the seismic schisms have only deepened.
I have written numerous articles for various publications about the interceding years, in part to maintain my own sanity—holding in all of what I have felt would have caused an implosion. I have also penned pieces in an attempt to change minds and open hearts. Sometimes, I feel like I am preaching to the choir, but I hold out hope that someone who needs to read the words will. I am in good company with readers who feel heartened that they are not alone in their outrage, and at times, despair, hopelessness, and fear. I am not prone to those states of mind, but they have become fuel to impel me to take positive action in whatever way I can.
Each time he did something outrageous, I thought that was the bottom of the barrel. Appallingly, not so. I figured that the adults in the room would rein him in and put him in a time-out. It seems that those who could have done something to put the brakes on the runaway Trump train were either enjoying the ride for the rewards they thought they would reap or they were simply too afraid to jump off.
I certainly couldn’t have envisioned what happened on January 6th. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how I felt then and how I feel now. Disgusted, appalled, outraged, devastated, horrified, shocked, and thunderstruck among them. The January 6th Commission is comprised of people who are putting the truth before party. Although I have never pulled the R lever when I have voted—since 1977—I admire the integrity of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for crossing the aisle when their compatriots in the Republican party turn a blind eye to horrific events that could have ended democracy. Even if the violence hadn’t occurred, there were people, both in the spotlight and behind the scenes, attempting to overthrow the legitimate election results. I can’t say I am enjoying the news reports that uncover how deep and wide this went, but I am eager to see the dominoes fall and karma come to call, including criminal charges and guilty verdicts announced for all involved. The karmic wheel seems to be turning far too slowly for my liking, but by crossing all the T’s and dotting the I’s, I have faith that the outcome will bring justice. I have read voices from the other side of the aisle in my community who claim they want to be sure that the election outcome was legit. I still scratch my head about their denial.
What did come as a surprise were the remarks of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I can’t say I trust his intention and wonder what he has up his sleeve, but he has been public with this statement:
“I think the fact-finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it. It was a horrendous event, and I think what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.”
Imagine the greater good that the country could be experiencing if the governing bodies weren’t focused on either exposing or covering up wrongdoing. How much trauma could have been prevented for those in the line of fire, and their families in particular, and the country in general? I wonder if there is any true remorse for those who were there. Anxiety and depression have escalated since 2016, with the term Trump Anxiety Disorder, although not an official diagnosis, being used by therapists to describe their clients’ symptoms. It has cost us our psychological and physical health. It is a collective grief that many of us are feeling.
As I am writing this article and doing some research into some of the local presence and support in the January 6th insurrection, I was surprised and sad to discover that some of my friends in the face-to-face (and not just Facebook) world, know one of the local organizers and are friends (at least here) with this person. While I agree with peaceful protest, even if those who attended didn’t trespass or commit acts of violence, the expressed purpose of the rally was “Stop the Steal” and halting of the certifying of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. Countless lawsuits, investigations, and re-counts have incontrovertibly shown that there was no widespread voter fraud. Such a waste of time and tax payer dollars. The repetition of Trump’s “Big Lie” has brought with it threats of harm to election officials who were doing their job in counting the votes.
I attended marches and rallies after the 2016 election and none of them were for the purpose of attempting to overturn the election results. Of course, people have the right to choose their friends, and I wonder if my friends support this person’s values and actions. That would be even more shocking. I wear my heart and my political views on my sleeve, so people know who I am at my core. Letting go of friendships isn’t about cancel culture or being “woke.” It isn’t about difference of opinion, but difference of values and what we stand for. I can, in good conscience, question why someone would want to align themselves with the former president who has done such devastating damage to our country and why someone would be friends with a person who supports the former guy in such an outspoken way.
I hadn’t anticipated an out of control pandemic that to date has killed 806,437 people in this country alone. If the pandemic hadn’t existed, there wouldn’t be as many empty places at holiday tables and people wouldn’t have needed to say goodbye to loved ones via Facetime. I would be out in the world, interacting with people hug to hug and unmasked face to unmasked face. I would be seeing clients from my office rather than via telehealth. On the rare occasion I do go in, I wear a mask and face shield, which is a challenging barrier, but the intention is to keep us all safe. I am thrice vaxxed and don’t see it as a violation of my rights, but rather a reinforcement of my responsibility to myself, my family, and my community.
I admit to blazing judgment of those who not only voted for Trump the first time, but the second time, and are still in allegiance with him. When Joe Biden was elected, I breathed a tremendous sigh of relief that I had hoped to exhale in 2016. Would that the outgoing president been as gracious as Hillary and concede, or at least not waste time and energy by protesting the results.
Ignoring the “Prime Directive” in Star Trek, I wonder what would it be like if we could turn back time, have a do-over, and celebrate the presidency of Hillary Clinton, with Trump relegated to the annals of history as a reality show host and failed businessman, rather than someone who came a breath away from installing himself as totalitarian overlord. To be fair, the concept is about not interfering with development in other cultures on other planets, not here on Earth and with our own species.
I’m not naïve enough to think that we would be living in a utopia, but for certain, we would not be dwelling in a dystopia as we are now. I would like to think that the environment would be cleaner and less endangered. I would like to think that human rights would have been honored and that hate-fueled rhetoric and violent actions would not have had fertile ground on which to flourish. I would like to think that lives would have been saved if the pandemic were dealt with more expeditiously, if super spreader events at the White House and campaign rallies had not been held. If the former guy had set a good example for masking and distancing, more people would have been willing to protect themselves and their communities. I would like to think that QAnon with their conspiracy theories about Hollywood pedophile rings headed by the likes of the Clintons and Tom Hanks and the return of JFK and JFK Jr. wouldn’t have eaten the brains of their followers. I would like to think that families wouldn’t have been torn asunder and friendships dissolved over political differences.
If you could rewind time, what changes would you like to have seen? What actions will you take each day to change history for future generations to review?
“We cannot turn the clock back nor can we undo the harm caused, but we have the power to determine the future and to ensure that what happened never happens again.” ~ Paul Kagame
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