Allison

It was around the time I spoke with Allison that the rollercoaster of my post-election emotions took a sudden dive. In the 48 hours after the election, I had felt confused and frightened and powerless. Then I began this project of interviewing women who voted for Trump and I started to feel optimistic. I might somehow wrap my brain around this after all. Or, if not, at least I was being productive. I was making lemonade from lemons. Just like Beyoncé.

I hate blaming Allison because I liked her very much. In fact, that was the problem.

The first three women I interviewed were so different from me. They were all politically conservative and had been their entire lives. Of course they voted for Trump. This was not such a departure.

Allison was different. She has always been a democrat. She voted for Obama.

Allison lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, who is both an engineer and an immigrant from India. She’s lived a lot of other places—Michigan, Arizona, and India. She was born in 1980. Before becoming a full-time mom, she worked for 10 years in higher education. That may help explain her three masters’ degrees. (Three!)

She grew up with a single mom. They were on welfare. She is a survivor of sexual assault. She describes herself as “97 percent pro-choice” (holding 3 percent back because she wishes women who opt for abortions received emotional support). She believes in equal rights, including marriage equality. It is not her concern which bathroom a transgender person uses.

When she voted for Obama in 2008, she wanted the “change” his campaign promised. She hoped it was more than a slogan. She was tired of domestic policies like the social assistance programs on which she grew up that breed low expectations of people and keep them stuck in a cycle of poverty. She was sick of foreign policies that fuel the industry she believes war has become.

President Obama may have intended to transform many aspects of our government but given the nature of the political system he was capable of only so much. Perhaps his health care reforms are emblematic of what he was up against. He did what he could to make sure more Americans could become insured, but his failure to address the very nature of the system has meant that the cost of the insurance is still out of reach for many of those who need it. Allison is disappointed that President Obama did not fundamentally alter a system in need of radical revisions.

Talking to Allison, I was forced to confront my own feelings about “the way things are.” If I’m being honest, I’m not all that satisfied with many aspects of our domestic and foreign policies, or the degree of “change” that has occurred over the past eight years. Maybe it’s unfair to expect such substantial alterations in such a short time, but I can’t think of any significant differences besides marriage equality and a less gloomy economy (and the fact that we had our first black president, which alone is huge). I think Obama is a fantastic human being, but I’m not sure even he is satisfied with the degree of change his presidency was able to usher in.

Allison says she’s the first to admit that Trump is not a particularly likeable guy. She thinks he was “pandering to the base” throughout his campaign. She hopes much of what he suggested, such as a ban on Muslims, was “just talk.”

To Allison, the vote for president was between two things: keeping things as-is or hurling a stick of dynamite into the status quo.

It’s horrible what washes over me when I finish my conversation with Allison. For one brief and terrifying moment everything in the looking glass makes perfect sense. But it’s like the bright flash from a nuclear explosion, offering a single moment of clarity, before a dim and bleak aftermath. I’m left gazing at an ugly path of destruction.

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14 thoughts on “Allison

  1. You don’t mean to say that Allison voted for tRump to hurl a stick of dynamite into the status quo??

    What madness is THAT? The ugly path of destruction is already making itself obvious . . . 😦

  2. I understand what you’re saying, Corinna and I suspect there were many others like Allison who wanted drastic change to take place hoping that some of Trump’s words were just that in passing.
    At present I’m simply waiting for January 21 and the days thereafter. He has stacked up some very intelligent folks for his administration who may be even too high powered for him. It will be interesting to watch while hoping that our country does not topple. I support the demonstrations and folks who are beating the drums to get him out of office. A lot will depend on who we elect for Congress which will be coming up soon.

    • Frank, I think you left out a few words. I’ll add them. “He has stacked up some very . . . enthusiastic, war-mongering men” . . .. ” Yes, indeed, let’s all HOPE that the election of the Congress will shift the balance of power. 😦

      • I hear ya, Carmen. I have worried from the beginning that we’d end up in another dreadful war. Obama was a peace keeper and I believe he worked hard at it although so many people seemed to love the yelling and shouting of Hannity and O’Reilly and thought they knew how to get things done instead of realizing they are actors who found a way to make a buck with little or no peacekeeping concerns for our country. So many folks fall for the screeching dynamic folk politically just as many do the charismatic religious folk and get suckered in. I’m trying my best but it isn’t easy simply being an observer but at present it looks like we’re stuck. I’m a spiritual thinking man so I do my best to work with the silence but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have a backpack of bad language that I apply to them. There’s gotta be a better way. Love ya, Carmen and just wanted you to know you are being heard. I often think that if I were younger and not carrying around a chronic physical illness I’d make my way to Canada. I’ve been there several times and love the people, the politics and the country.

        • Frank, don’t think that the same thing couldn’t happen here – hence, my avid interest in things south of the border. (well, that and the fact that I’ve got very good friends/relatives who are going to be directly affected- and probably negatively – by anything that happens there) We’ve got another DT here making noises about running for the leader of the Conservative Party (Justin Trudeau is the leader – and current PM – of the Liberal Party).

          I admire your attempt at being diplomatic, though. Perhaps I need some ‘spirituality’ instead of my caustic tongue? On second thought, you’d think I fell down and bumped my head if I started being nice. . . 😉

  3. Lke Frank, I’m trying to withhold judgement until the new administration has some time to show its true values. In the meantime, I’m trying really hard to look Trump voter friends in the eye and not think their education in science, logic and “Christian Values” must have failed. Otherwise I just don’t understand.

  4. Corrina, I think your last paragraph says it all. Unfortunately, Allison’s “dynamite” theory sounds uncannily like the “We had to destroy the village to save it” sentiment from the Vietnam War. You don’t reform something by wrecking it. You change it. Her disappointment with President Obama shows how shallow her understanding of the last eight years is. Anything an everything her did was done despite non-stop rumor mongering among the right-wing media and a Republican Congress that opposed him every step of the way. Failing to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee a full nine months before the election is unprecedented in our history, but no more so as the GOP leadership’s promise to treat Hillary Clinton’s nominee with the same intransigence.

    At what point will Allison and the rest of Trump’s supporters stop using the excuse that he really didn’t mean all the bigoted, hateful things he said? We’re all still waiting for him to become more “presidential” while he ignores intelligence briefings and engages in Twitter wars with Saturday Night Live and Vanity Fair. And how is it possibly okay to ignore his inflammatory statements? If, as Allison hopes, they were just said for show, then Trump is a political harlot who sold his integrity to appeal to the basest demons of our nature. If he meant them, he really is a misogynistic bigot. It can only be one thing or the other. He said too many hateful things too many times to merely be brushed off as “locker room talk.”.

  5. You cut down a forest, the first plants to take advantage of the new space are the invasive species. There is no guarantee that any of the old forest will return, and often it does not.

  6. I understand Allison’s efforts to throw a monkey wrench into an electoral event and system in which the Dems had every reason to believe the voters would continue to fall for more of the same. I think Corinna nailed one of the largest single factors in T-rump’s win.

    But about Allison’s problem with Obama — “..his failure to address the very nature of the [health care] system has meant that the cost of the insurance is still out of reach for many of those who need it.” THAT is something Allison would expect to be fixed by a man who doesn’t even support a decent, living minimum wage?

    So sad Dem voters were deprived by trickery of the opportunity to vote for the candidate that both had a workable plan to improve the health care system and whom poll after poll showed could have kept T-rump a safe distance from the levers of national power. I wonder what Allison would have said if asked if she would have voted for Bernie Sanders had he gotten the nomination.

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