Guest Posts, Patriotism, Politics

P is for President

July 3, 2017

By Lori D’Angelo

A is for Anita Hill
One of the formative events of my high school years was the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Specifically Anita Hill’s testimony. I was a freshman in high school and I was 14. I watched the hearings on my grandma’s old central-to-the-living-room TV, an appliance that always seemed to be on. I didn’t know what sexual harassment was and I had never seen a porn movie. My then Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, was among the rat pack of White Men acting like Ms. Hill was out for something. I don’t know what. Public embarrassment? But I think Anita Hill accomplished something, even if it wasn’t the dismissal of one of the least qualified justices to ever be appointed to the bench. She accomplished awareness, and our national conversation about sexual harassment changed because of her.

B is for Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was the crush of my youth, my high school and college years. The first president I ever voted for and the president I vocally and ardently supported before I was old enough to vote. Bill Clinton was smart. Bill Clinton was hot. Bill Clinton was mesmerizing. He was like a intellectual girl’s wet dream. In college, I had a life-sized Bill Clinton cutout that my apartmentmates got me for my 22nd birthday. It was a little alarming to walk in to our third-floor apartment and think, Hey, who’s that strange man, and realize Oh, it’s just Bill Clinton. I was around Monica Lewinsky’s age, a college student when the intern scandal broke. I remember disagreeing with our journalism school dean at the time. He thought the intern sex story was a legit thing that we should cover. The Starr Report was everywhere. I thought that going to office supplies stores and seeing it amid pencils and paper clips was one of the most horrifying things I had ever encountered. Did Bill Clinton have sex with that intern? I didn’t really care. If I was the intern, I likely would have done the same thing, and that’s the truth. But I hope now that I wouldn’t have because though Bill was the politician of my youth, his wife, Hillary, was the politician of my life.

C is for Class President
In 9th grade, I ran for class president. I lost to a girl who is now an attorney and an elected official in our shared hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her family was in politics. I didn’t know that then. The boy who came in second was Indian and had terrible skin condition. Not only did I lose, I really lost. I never ran for student council again. In ninth period freshman English, I held back tears as the girl in front of me, a pretty, popular girl told me: I voted for you. I wanted to get our school to do things like recycle more. I don’t think that was on everyone’s agenda.

D is for the Downtown Mall
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Charlottesville headquarters were in the Downtown Mall, a pedestrian walking area with lots of charming local shops and awful parking. I went there nearly every week from mid-June until the week of the election. I made phone calls, registered voters, and, less frequently, canvassed, driving to potential voters’ houses asking if they would vote, and, if they voted, if they would be supporting Hillary Clinton. We had clipboards with the names and addresses of who to visit. Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, had successfully run Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia gubernatorial campaign. We thought if we mobilized the base, we would win. I don’t think we understood how hate, sexism, fake scandals and general anger would impact the election. I haven’t been to the Downtown Mall since November.

E is for Elizabeth Banks
Elizabeth Banks is an American actress and film director. She’s one of those celebrities that some Trump supporters wish would keep their mouths shut. It’s a variation of the popular song, “Shut up and Dance” by the band Walk the Moon only darker and more sinister. “Shut up and Act.” Elizabeth Banks was one of the performers who sang what would become an anthem of the Clinton campaign: “Fight Song.” After the election, the words of “Fight Song” would take on a less upbeat tone: “This is my fight song, prove I’m alright song.”

F is for Foreigner
I am the granddaughter of immigrants. My grandparents on my father’s side left Italy to escape a country ravaged by World War I. My grandparents on my mother’s side are also Italian. My mom’s mom was born in America, but my mother’s father was also an immigrant. I have light olive skin and dark brown hair, so dark it’s almost black. Sometimes people ask me: Where are you from? and they don’t mean what city or what state but what country. I’m American, I want to say. I’m a girl who can’t quite pass and doesn’t quite pass as Anglo-Saxon. I sometimes have to explain: I’m Italian. In response to the question, What part of Italy is your family from, I say Northern Italy and Southern Italy. My mom’s family comes from Lucca, a walled city; my dad’s family from a small town near Naples. Recently, a nurse at work mistakenly told someone that I could translate for a Hispanic patient. I gently corrected her: I don’t speak Spanish, I said.

G is for Gary Johnson
Johnson was that cool hippy guy, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, who ran for president as a libertarian and couldn’t answer basic foreign policy questions like What is Aleppo? Still, some people voted for him because he favored things like legalized marijuana and he seemed chill and perhaps, most importantly, he wasn’t Hillary Clinton. Some believe that Ralph Nader, who ran for president, in 2000, cost Al Gore the election. It is unclear whether independents had the same effect in 2016.

H is for Hillary Clinton
Trump that Bitch

I don’t think we can have a rational conversation about Hillary Clinton. She inspires such extremes of love and hate. There was a time when I was growing up that I just saw her as the wife of Bill Clinton, my favorite politician. But to have grown up in a time when she was First Lady changed everything I knew about what it was to be a woman. I grew up in a household where my parents both thought, and still do think, that the man is the head of the household, like the Bible says. My dad never taught me to change a tire or mow the lawn. Sometimes he still addresses mail to Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, even though I never took my husband’s last name. Hillary Clinton was taking on healthcare instead of picking out china patterns. (Though maybe she did that too?) Some of the questions about this election were so trivial like: What if she has her period? (Hello, menopause.) The people need to know: What will we call Bill if she wins?

I is for INTJ
Hillary Clinton and I reportedly share the same personality type on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory:  INTJ. We’re hard workers, motivated by principle, sometimes too private, often misunderstood. The fictional character Mr. Darcy is considered to be an INTJ. That gives you an idea of our people skills. We’re realists but we’re also idealists. Our lack of natural people skills—Hillary Clinton is said to not be as charismatic as her husband—doesn’t stop us from trying to change the world.

J is for Jill Stein
Stein was the Green Party candidate for president, a woman who posted critical comments about Hillary Clinton on Twitter on Mother’s Day. Stein is a physician who briefly served as an elected official in Lexington, Massachusetts, before deciding to run unsuccessfully for governor of Massachusetts. Jill Stein represents the purist left, perhaps the Left who feels that Obama compromised too much. In states like Pennsylvania, some wonder if Jill Stein cost Hillary Clinton the election.

K is for Kerry
John Kerry was the first presidential candidate I had ever campaigned for. I was 27 years old and living in Ohio. I found other Kerry Democrats on Meetup. In the pre-technological time of 2004, I remember walking around and passing out flyers for the Kerry-Edwards rally at the upscale Fairfield Commons Mall. No one kicked me out. I cried when George W. Bush won a second term, and I didn’t get put my heart fully back into the presidential campaigning arena, until Hillary Clinton.

L is for Love Trumps Hate
This was one of the slogans of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. I also liked “I’m With Her,” “Madam President,’ and one of my favorite Twitter hashtags was #45hasarrived. A few days after the election, I got a bumper sticker in the mail that said: “We made history,” and I asked my husband, What am I supposed to do with this now? Later, I would realize that Hillary Clinton did make history, only the march of history was longer and slower than many of us had hoped. But the one thing she isn’t is the one thing her supporters wanted for the country most: President of the United States.

M is for Maiden Name
When I got married, I kept my maiden name, something no one I knew personally had done, but I did know one woman who had: Hillary Rodham. She eventually added the Clinton to appeal to some voters, but the fact that she kept her maiden name stuck with me and inspired me. If men get to keep the name they’ve had their whole lives, why couldn’t women? Why were women expected to change everything about who they were and who they were expected to be?

N is for New York
When I was in high school, we took our senior class field trip to New York. We visited many placed including the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and Trump Tower. Maybe we just walked by. Back then, Trump was just a real estate developer and his developments seemed impressive. Now we know better.

O is for Ohio
Ohio is a Rust Belt State, and much of the Rust Belt hasn’t recovered from the jobs it lost in manufacturing and steel. You could raise a family on those union jobs, one job for life. Those jobs are gone. I lived in Ohio twice and saw the boarded up downtowns in places like East Liverpool, the rampant drug addiction problem, the plight of the unskilled worker who feels he or she should have it better even though, in a global economy, some of the jobs the “foreigners” are taking are jobs like doctor and engineer. Some people in Ohio wanted simple solutions like trade barriers, “law and order” policies for the crime they felt was getting worse, even if they couldn’t always prove it, and walls, because it’s easier to build a wall than to read the complex policy proposals on Hillary Clinton’s website. My doctor in Ohio was Korean. Many of his patients were low-income whites. I knew that Ohio wouldn’t go for Hillary Clinton.

P is for President of the United States
The 45th president of the United States is Donald John Trump. He is a businessman and former reality show star perhaps best known for his role in the television show The Apprentice where he chose one lucky person to come work for his company. On the show, his signature phrase is: You’re fired, a phrase many of us are hoping to tell him soon.

Q is for Queen Elizabeth
Despite the recent Brexit vote, thanks to Trump presidency, England is looking like the sane country. Many British citizens are protesting against a full state visit arguing that “it would cause embarrassment to her majesty, the queen.” I think they’re right.

R is for Red
Growing up, I wanted to dye my hair red to look like one of my favorite actresses of my teen years, Julia Roberts. When I finally first tried a home dye job, we ran out of red. Eventually, I dyed my hair back brown, even darker than its natural color to cover the red. Later, I would get blond highlights and have a blonde haired son. Hillary Clinton is a natural brunette. But, to appeal to Arkansas voters, she dyed her hair blond. She has been described as the brain trying to seem like the beauty queen. Gentleman prefer blonds and women who defer to men, apparently. The girl with the highest test scores in her class sometimes eating lunch alone or scheduling more classes so she doesn’t have to have a lunch period at all.

S is for Sanders
Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist who ran for president in 2016 as a Democrat. Many people felt like he was the authentic candidate, the candidate not beholden to Wall Street, the one fighting for the people, for the little guy, against corrupt corporations and big banks. Some said that the same populist movement that drew people to outsider Trump also drew them to outsider Sanders. I saw something different. I saw two loud, unqualified, egotistical white men appealing to the desperate, the idealistic, the delusional. Some die-hard Sanders supporters who followed Sanders with Messianic fervor said they were Bernie or bust, Bernie or no one. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic primary handily, but bitterness between the Bernie and Hillary factions lingered in the Democratic party. It’s possible that some Sanders supporters didn’t show up to vote.

T is for Trump
“Trump” is not just the president, if one can call him that, but a brand. It used to be a brand associated with wealth, success, and luxury. But now high-end department stores like Nordstrom’s have started dropping the merchandise of the Ivana Trump, the eldest and most favored Trump daughter. What was once considered to be a brand of the rich and famous now seems more like the brand of the hateful and intolerant.

U is for Utah
Even in conservative Mormon Utah, many Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a man who said: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” As a result, Independent candidate Evan McMullin captured 21% of the popular vote in Republican-strong Utah.

V is for Vaccines
Hillary Clinton is pro-science. Donald Trump is pro whatever he thinks will get him votes, apparently. Donald Trump has tweeted misinformation about many things including vaccines. On vaccines, he wrote: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!” As a mother and a healthcare worker, I find that to be appalling. The supposed link between vaccines and autism was found in only one study, which has been since been thoroughly discredited. Trump’s administration is an administration that deals in alternative facts and sketchy sources, but I worry about how many real deaths those alternative facts will lead to on issues like climate change, health care, and the environment.

W is for Women’s Rights are Human Rights Once and for All
On September 5, 1995, Hillary Clinton gave a speech in Bejing, China, in which she controversially said: “Women’s rights are human rights once and for all” and advocated for crazy things like that women should be able to determine the number and spacing of her children. Growing up, I was Catholic, pro-life. I even once attended a pro-life rally in Washington, DC., when I was in high school, in which I chanted: “Pro-choice, that’s a life. Babies never choose to die.” We met with my Anita Hill-questioning senator Arlen Specter. On that issue, back then, I was to the right of him.

X is for Xenophobia
One of Trump’s campaign promises was that he would build a wall, with big, beautiful doors. A wall along the Mexican border. A wall to keep out Mexican immigrants. And Mexico, Trump claimed, was gonna pay for it. Supposedly, this wall is meant to just keep out men who Trump refers to as “bad hombres,” but, in reality, it seems to be targeted at all foreigners, those people with brown skin, the people one might think could be Spanish interpreters.

Y is for Young People
Some people were worried that young people would cost Hillary Clinton the election, but, in the end, it appears that it was old people, specifically old white people and people who didn’t bother to vote. But there’s also the fact that some states made it harder for minorities to vote due to  stricter voter ID laws and shortened early voting. Democrats wanted to register and turn out more voters. When turnout is high, Democrats tend to win. According to an article on the CNN website, voter turnout dipped to a 20-year low in 2016. Republican turnout was up, but Democratic turnout had fallen.

Z is for Zodiac
Hillary Clinton is a Scorpio. Scorpios are defined as mysterious, ambitious, and misunderstood. The Saturday Night Live caricature of Hillary Clinton is of a woman who will do anything to gain power, a modern-day Lady Macbeth. She has, in fact, been accused of murdering a friend. But the Scorpio is also one of the fixed signs of the zodiac, the type that takes an idea and sees it through to the end.

I’m a Pisces. Pisces is the final sign in the zodiac, and, like the Scorpio, a water sign. We’re described as thinkers, dreamers, helpers. We don’t care much about outward appearances. We’re loyal, we feel deeply, and we sometimes have difficulty recovering from heartbreak.

Lori D’Angelo‘s work has appeared in literary journals including The Bakery, Drunken Boat, Gargoyle, Gravel, Literary Mama, and Word Riot. She is a fellow at Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, a grant recipient from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop.

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