Last Tuesday, I had planned on spending the day watching twenty-four hour cable news. The idea of doing that filled me with dread. I began to have minor flashbacks of the same day two years before when I ignored most of the day’s goings-on since I knew the outcome. I, and many of the country (about sixty-three million of us) were wrong. It was devastating, and the more I thought about seven days ago, the more I realized that I did not want to sit at home, waiting for results that would not come until late in the evening.
I decided to vote early and go to my local religious retreat house for a day of reflection centered on Thanksgiving. It was exactly what I needed, and it helped me through the rest of the evening and into the week that followed. Sometimes stepping back is exactly what’s needed in those stressful circumstances that this Election Day was going to be.
One week later, and there are still some outstanding races. As I write this, Arizona’s Senate race has just been declared: Kyrsten Sinema (D) has won the seat previously held by Jeff Flake. She will be the first woman Senator to represent Arizona. That was worth waiting for.
The main question Republicans and pundits (but not that many Democrats) are asking is whether this was really a blue wave rather than a puddle or a correction or a split decision, and I can tell you from my personal research (unscientific) on Facebook and Twitter, while we went to sleep just a week ago on Tuesday night only slightly less queasy than at the same time in 2016, waking up and continuing on during this past week of continuing counting of votes, rescinded concessions, no concessions in the case of Arizona and Georgia, and the huge increase in Congressional diversity, I can safely say that BLUE WAVE it is!
It is a complete repudiation of the Trump Administration and its policies that favor his laziness, bigotry and cronyism and nepotism. We said strongly that Mueller and his investigation must be protected and with Democrats on oversight, he will be.
For starters, some of my (least) favorite people have been defeated, including Scott Walker (WI), Kris Kobach (KS), Dean Heller (NV), John Faso (NY), Dana Rohrbacher (CA), Pete Sessions (TX), and the counting still continues in Georgia (governor) and Florida (governor and senator).
One hundred seventeen women!
The first (2) Muslim women.
The first (2) Native American women.
The first black woman from Massachusetts.
Openly gay governor for Colorado.
First woman Senator from Arizona, who is also bisexual.
Youngest woman elected to Congress from New York.
Lucy McBath won her seat in Georgia. She is one of the Moms Demand gun sense candidates, and part of a wave that added gun sense to the roles of Congress while defeating twenty-one NRA backed and A-rated candidates.
In Houston, ALL 19 black women who ran for judicial seats won!
In state legislatures across the country, 350 seats flipped as well as six state legislatures.
In North Carolina, the Republicans no longer have a supermajority, which lets the Democratically Elected Governor do his job.
Amendment 4 in Florida re-enfranchised millions of voters.
Idaho, Utah, and Nebraska all voted to expand medicaid.
Arkansas and Missouri voted to raise the minimum wage and Missouri passed a pro union ballot measure.
Teacher protests across the country happened in conservative states and helped move things forward; things are changing across the country.
The big question from Crooked Media’s Lovett or Leave It is how do we get Democratic politicians to be as popular as Democratic policies? Across the country progressive policy is popular, but for some reason conservatives continue to vote against their own interests.
In Red State Texas, Beto O’Rourke came within three points of beating incumbent Ted Cruz. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know who Beto O’Rourke is, find is farewell email to his supporters; it highlights his character and beliefs.
In Georgia where the current Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who is running the election for the state as well as running for Governor in the election he’s overseeing is defending his voter suppression in court while his challenger, Stacey Abrams is within one point of winning and they’re still counting.
In Florida, they haven’t finished counting the original election totals, and are still waiting for overseas military ballots to come in. When the original count is finished, Gillum and Nelson will qualify for a machine and a hand recount, respectively.
The biggest takeaway is flipping the House.
The Democrats now have oversight power, and can perform a check on the Executive branch of government despite the Republicans relinquishing their duty for the last two years. There will now be accountability so the White House, the President, and his Cabinet can’t go further into their already documented corruption and circumventing the rule of law.
This was one of the biggest turnouts in a midterm in history, and if we can keep the momentum going through the next Presidential election, we can right some of the wrongs of the past two years. If nothing else, it will be a reminder that the President is not a King; he answers to us, the people, and we will now hold his feet to the fire, and ensure that he does his job, not just for his small base, but for all Americans, no matter their party or their income level.
We can change the gerrymandering laws to make them more fair to everyone (including Republicans); we can reverse some of the unfair ID laws like the ones in North Dakota and Georgia and Indiana. We can pass bills for automatic voter registration so all eligible voters are able to vote in the next election.
As we’ve seen by this very Blue Wave, we can take back our country.
When we vote, we win.
It’s not so much the month of September that I love but what it brings combined with the back to school season. While October is my favorite month (more on that tomorrow), ultimately this is my favorite time of the year from September and Back to School until the end of the year. I find it more of a renewal time of year than the January new year or spring when we all come out of our winter cocoons and spring clean.
We have a much more focused energy on fall cleaning, getting ready for the rest of the year. Clearing out the clutter for homework spaces and new school supplies (one of my weaknesses), earlier dinner and groceries in the house, bath schedules, physical, but also mental space.
It’s time to settle down and ease into our semi-hibernation.
We’re also getting ready for the holidays. Getting it clean and straightened and maintaining it for the myriad of family gatherings that are happening between now and the end of the year. Our outside gets decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and caution tape, spiders and witches. We move our decorating talents inside for Thanksgiving. Cornucopias, squashes, oranges and browns, table runners and lap blankets. Fall is applepicking, apple pie, chutney, tarts, or just a cold, crispy snap of an apple in the orchard.
I always find the Jewish New Year a time to reflect, think, and read. No work means settling down with a cup of tea, a buttered slice of challah and a pile of books. Yom Kippur brings the fasting and the prayer; time to atone and forgive; asking for forgiveness and offering it. Forgiving ourselves.
For us politicos, especially this year, we’re gearing up for an election, getting out the vote, promoting our candidates and our values.
School supplies, the Hogwarts Express, leaves changing colors and falling gently to the browning grass, Christmas card lists, buying stamps, printing return address labels, designing Halloween costumes and cosplays, Thanksgiving shopping and organizing recipe cards.
If we could carry fall with us all year, the world (and our worlds) would be a better place.
I’ve mentioned before that I always read on the Rosh Hashanah holiday. I am currently either in the middle of or just about to begin three books. I’ll also include ones that I’ve finished recently.
1776 – by David McCullough
1984 – by George Orwell
The Autobiography of Malcolm X – by Malcolm X with Alex Haley
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – by Trevor Noah
The Children – by David Halberstam
Cronkite – by Douglas Brinkley
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention – by Manning Marable
Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet – by Lyndal Roper
Read my Pins – by Madeline Albright
The Handmaid’s Tale – by Margaret Atwood
The Princess Diarist – by Carrie Fisher
The Zookeeper’s Wife – by Diane Ackerman
Each month I have tried to use one of my new 52 weeks to talk about a person or personality who has been an influence on my life. In past weeks, I’ve talked about the Blessed Mother, Mary, journalist Ezra Klein, artist and author Brother Mickey McGrath, writer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer and actress Carrie Fisher, and St. Elen of Caernarfon.
With Gishwhes beginning at the end of this week, I thought that I would briefly introduce this audience to Misha Collins.
I became aware of Misha through a friend of mine who convinced me to join his gishwhes team, which ended up being all full up. That’s another story, though. Gishwhes is the acronym for its description: the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever seen. Misha pronounces it gish-ways; I pronounce it gish-weeeessss.
In addition to Gishwhes being a scavenger hunt, it is also an opportunity to move out of your comfort zone by being creative, artistic, and kind. Part of the fun of gishwhes is trying new things, meeting new people, working together as a team even if you never meet them, and connecting through art and kindness.
Misha’s an actor who I’ve seen several times before although I don’t remember any of the ones before Supernatural.
He’s married and he and his wife, Dr. Victoria Vantoch have two children. They live primarily in California, but also spend a large chunk of the year in Vancouver where Supernatural films.
Misha began the charity, Random Acts in 2009, showing his fans how to direct their energy to make lives better by doing small, seemingly insignificant things, but that were huge things for the families involved, and of course, as anyone who does any kind of volunteer work knows, it gives great joy for the person on the giving end of things.
Some of the bigger things that Random Acts has done over the years has been bringing hope to Jacmel, Haiti after the island’s devastating earthquake, building a free high school in Nicaragua. Last year, they helped two Syrian refugee families, and this year they began a crisis support network to help those in danger of suicide and self-harm. Sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to at the right time. it doesn’t make it all better, but it does help.
Recently, he’s been involved in political issues like resisting the current Administration’s and Congress’ rollback of civil rights and environmental protections, and encouraging petitions and supporting candidates across the country. Many would say that this isn’t the role of a mere actor, but this is not out of the realm of his skill set. Of course, any member of society can and should involve themselves in politics and political causes, but in his case for the many naysayers out there, he went to the University of Chicago for public policy, and was an intern at the White House during the Clinton years.
I attribute what I did yesterday with my kids directly or indirectly to Misha’s influence as well as my experiences in Gishwhes. I saw a friend’s post on Facebook about something going on in the capital. I thought that it would be fun to visit, and maybe I’d take the kids on Friday or sometime next week. I looked at the clock, pretty much decided to miss church, and go back to sleep when I was jolted. It wasn’t anything paranormal or a voice in my head, but suddenly, I was bolting out of bed, waking my two youngest kids, telling them they had ten minutes to be ready: we were going to church, breakfast at McDonald’s, and then a huge surprise.
They were not terribly put off, although they don’t usually go with me to church, and they really don’t like it very much, but they didn’t argue, they didn’t badger me about what the surprise was, and to be honest, they were extraordinarily well behaved and cooperative all throughout the day, never once complaining about the heat or that they were hungry.
I’m not sure i would have had the energy or the wherewithal to just get up and go like that if I hadn’t been participating in Gishwhes for the past five years. It wasn’t as though I was doing anything crazy; just a little out of the ordinary.
And that’s what I should be teaching my kids. There are times for order, and there are times for spontaneity and surprises. Except for breakfast (and the subsequent parking ticket), this was a free day. And it was so inexpensive that I treated them to another surprise on the way home: 50c Frosties at Wendy’s.
Misha Collins is that bee in your bonnet, Mona Lisa smile, Jiminy Cricket, and he’s the friend who pushes you just a little, but holds on so you don’t fall. And he’ll bring the band-aids.