My parents were serious liberals who both worked in public schools. Public schools run on taxes, and some elected officials, as you know, hate taxes.
In my house, elections that weren’t a super big deal still had the low-grade, ominous feel of a tornado watch in a place that usually doesn’t get tornadoes. Higher-stake elections, however, were more like tornado warnings in a place that does: If so-and-so became the president, we were screwed. If so-and-so became governor, we were screwed. And if so-and-so was elected to the school board, we were really, truly screwed, because my father was the school superintendent and this person had expressly run for the school board to get him fired.
Returns often came in late, and I would lie awake, waiting for the sounds that would determine our fate. If my parents cheered and clapped, we were going to live. Yay! If I heard them swearing, or worse, heard nothing, it was the end of us.
When Edward King was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1979, I asked my mother if we were going to have to go live in my grandmother’s living room, and do you know what she said to me, through tears? “I hope not.”
Imagine my surprise and relief, then, when elections came and went, and not only did we never end up living in my grandmother’s living room, but, in fact, absolutely nothing changed. I don’t mean that it didn’t matter who was in power. It absolutely sucked for my parents when some tax-cutting, lying piece of shit was in charge, and it was better when some school-supporting, tax-loving person was in charge. But we always had the same house, the same food, the same friends. The same life. Year after year.
Do you remember cilia—those sensitive, eyelash-like structures on the surface of a cell—from 10th grade? You know how the cilia in your mucus membranes flatten when confronted with toxicity, like smoke? And if you smoke enough, or work in a mine enough, the cilia flatten, and flatten, and then one day they just don’t stand up again, and then you maybe get emphysema? My election cilia, if you will, lay down in about 1982, and they have just never gotten up. (I wasn’t even that upset about Bush v. Gore, even though I understood and believed all the worst about what had happened.)
I always vote, and I always know exactly what I’m voting for and why. Also, the only thing that really matters, in the end, is climate change, and a lot of people who got elected or reelected on Tuesday either don’t care about it or don’t believe it exists. I responded to that fact on Wednesday the only way I knew how: with an amazing three-hour lunch. Forgive me if I don’t say that I am devastated or despair about our future or threaten to move to France. It’s not that I don’t see the point in caring so much as that I do see the point in not caring too much that I care.
Cover photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty
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