By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Like many American families, we were watching the Election Night results in shock and increasing dismay into the early morning hours.
We flipped channels – from CNN to MSNBC to ABC to PBS – and watched each, hoping to hear some alternative spin to make us feel better, and turned away when we found their faces and voices too irksome.
Optimism turned to pessimism and pessimism into despair.
Meanwhile, our 9-year-old daughter, Sofia, had fallen asleep on the family room love seat before the ominous news became harsh reality.
A day that began with her going into the voting both with her mommy, who let her press the button to vote for what we all thought would be the first woman president of our internally wounded nation, ended with me carry her up the steps.
It used to be a common occurrence, me carrying Sofia to bed. I know it sounds strange, but it was always one of those small joys of parenthood that I not only enjoyed but where I made a small “note to self” to appreciate.
This time, it was different.
It had been a while. She was a lot heavier than she was a few years back, and I have developed more middle-aged aches and pains. Plus, I was more than tired. I was weary. Not only from the results but from the grind.
And from knowing my daughter would awaken to a different America.
I like to say I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wouldn’t call it a fatal flaw. It’s just the way I am. If I’m passionate about something, I can’t suppress it. And I was passionate about this election cycle, perhaps more than any other in a lifetime of always being interested in politics.
My heart was heavier than Sofia’s body.
Even though her seeing a woman president so early in her formative years was an exciting prospect, I was more somber about who won than who lost.
Truth be told, I was never real high on Hillary Clinton – at least not at this point in time. She was facing a tall order, looking to push eight years of a Democrat in the White House into 12 or 16, and she really was not overly inspiring. That should not necessarily be a qualification for the job, but fact is that is a humungous one. And she picked a milquetoast running mate, which didn’t help her cause.
So, while I was “with her,” since her opponent was non-option for what seemed to obvious reasons, I was not the cheerleader that, say, my wife was during the campaign.
Manning my Facebook battle station, I spent way more time pointing out the infinite flaws of Clinton’s opponent and rarely touting her beyond the obvious, which was that she was so much more qualified that it was both a comedy and tragedy at the same time.
And despite some accusations to the contrary, it had zero to do with Clinton’s gender. I supported her, vigorously, during 2007-2008 primary season. I felt she was better prepared to lead us out the darkness of the Bush years than the new kid in town, Barrack Obama, who seemed to me more like someone who was more a future president than one ready to take the reins.
Once she was edged out by Obama, and once John McCain exercised horrendous judgment by tabbing Sarah Palin as his running mate, I supported Obama in the general election and remained a voice of support – whether in newsprint, here on my blog or in social media battles – throughout his two terms.
When these so-called media experts tried to frame the 2016 election as a foregone conclusion, saying it was going to be a showdown between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, it rubbed me raw.
Is this the best we could do, going back to same two families, I wondered? And was America not founded, theoretically, on the notion of breaking from the concept of royalty?
Turns out, I would have taken that as a choice – even after being one of the few and proud Bernie Sanders backers of my age demographic in the country.
Yes, that’s how bad the end result turned out to be.
I could have lived with another Bush.
We are left with the person, whose name I can’t even bare to write this morning, as he is also part of American royalty but who lacks any political acumen whatsoever.
He was the flashpoint of the “birther movement” that actually had a high number of registered Republicans – people who actually wake up, dress and fed themselves each morning and operate a vehicle to go out into their small bubbled worlds – believing Obama was born in Kenya and a Muslim.
After Obama produced his birth certificate, something no Caucasian president would never have to do, Bill Maher did a bit on his political talk show saying the current president elect should produce a birth certificate saying he was not an orangutan.
And the thin-skinned mogul behind the “birther” push did what he usually does. He lawyered-up, and filed a lawsuit.
What will he do as president? He will be sworn in with multiple court cases and lawsuits – from the serious, to the benign and ridiculous – pending for and against him.
Will he react like a baby to every critique and lampooning sent his way? Will he be able to handle one-tenth of the venom spewed at Obama to last eight years? Are we headed toward a police state?
This, and so many other scary questions, overloaded my brain as I trudged up the steps with Sofia in my arms and as I laid her to sleep and placed a gentle and sorrowful kiss on her cheek.
Before waking her up, I had already received messages from other devastated friends wondering about we tell our kids this morning and what kind of world we are creating for them now.
I got up early and drove our dog, Rex, to his weekly visit to daycare. I tried to lose myself in the music on the radio. As I pulled into the lot, Don Henley’s “End of the Innocence” came on. I sat in my parking spot – with tears welling in my eyes — and pondered the question about ours, and about Sofia.
My innocence has long since been gone, but I already mourn the day when it happens to our princess with a heart of gold.
She is very much her daddy’s daughter, in terms of her emotions. I knew telling her wouldn’t be easy. I was not sure if her mommy would have broken the news by the time I got back home, or if she would be stealing a few extra minutes of sleep before school.
Part of me didn’t want to be there, part of me did.
All of me knew I had to be.
We have woken her up to bad news before – up to and including deaths of pets and family members – and she would immediately burst into tears.
Turned out, she was still in a deep sleep Wednesday morning.
When I whispered the horrifying result to her, she just looked sad and stunned.
“Oh,” she said after a few seconds, “really?”
When I drove to school about 30 minutes later, she was quiet. I asked if she was OK, and she admitted to being a bit sad about it. My gut is that she was more upset for her mommy than anything, but I didn’t push it. Instead, I thought I would lighten the mood. I told her that maybe she would be the first female president.
“Not interested,” she said, flatly.
The thing is, Sofia is a pretty cool kid. She will be OK.
The same TV where we watched the end of the world as we knew it is also one of these newfangled Smart TVs that I was too dumb to figure out for three months before an angel of mercy from XFinity took pity on me and went above and beyond just fixing a phone issue.
Together, on that TV, she has willing been indoctrinated into watching Gordonville classics like “The Wonder Years” and her clear favorite – “Star Trek.”
Sofia has quickly become such a Trekkie already that she has Googled how to make Vulcan Plomeek Soup and announced that we are going to Las Vegas this summer for the next convention.
She was a Vulcan – “Spockette” – for Halloween, and made me wear a yellow Captain Kirk shirt that was so friggin’ tight, even as an XXL, that I could barely breathe.
So I just told her this morning that the election was like a Star Trek episode where they land on a primitive planet and that we will have to think logically to get ourselves to resolution.
Problem is that this is four years – if he lasts that long – not one-hour.
She understood and accepted my logical explanation.
Problem is that we are not in the future, and present-day logic is on life support.
We could use a timely beam-up from Scotty, but all communication has been cut off.
Instead, I’ll have to carry her up the steps.
And even as she ages and grows to the point when I can’t physically do it anymore, I’ll continue to hold her close and carry her anyway.
Even in the worst of times – and it doesn’t get much worse than this – it is all I can do.