There is always a tipping point — that moment in time when everything changes and you “know” deep down inside that the trajectory of something has changed, and the train wreck that you thought couldn’t be stopped, can, in fact, be stopped.
Remember Howard Dean? Remember when he unexpectedly lost in Iowa, and he went on the television the night of the primary and screamed into the cameras and sent dogs and cats scurrying under couches, and Americans thought, “No way, Jose, is that guy going to get my vote. He’s not stable”? That was the end of Howard Dean. It was a split second in time, but it cost him dearly. They called it the scream that doomed Howard Dean.
Then there was that moment in August 2008, when the markets crashed and impending mortgage crisis doom and gloom hit the stage. John McCain pulled a Howard Dean moment himself. He went in front of the cameras and in a breathless panic said he was canceling his presence at the debate a few days later and suspending his campaign to immediately return to D.C. to deal with the financial crisis. Then cool, calm, and collected Obama said he too was going to D.C. to work on the fiscal situation. He said he could do more than one thing at a time and would attend the debate to continue his campaign. “Oh, one more thing,” said Senator Obama, “don’t worry; everything will be OK.” In my mind, that was the tipping point.
I have thought things SHOULD have been tipping points with this maniac in the White House. Grabbing women. Charlottesville. Gassing people in the street to hold a bible upside down. And oh, so much more. But I’ve never FELT they were tipping points.
Then, this outrageous human being without a semblance of shame or empathy toward others waved to a few dozen people in an SUV with two men who had to risk their lives to do that little dog and pony show sitting in the front, ostensibly holding their breaths for as much of the ride as they could manage. Combine that with his outrageous videos talking only about himself, without an ounce of empathy toward the more than 200,000 dead who didn’t have the care he is getting and presenting it all as if he has cured the virus for all by merely getting it. I FELT as though that was it. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I know that camel is as tired as I am.
I have spent the last few years saddened whenever I have seen my flag, the American flag. I have felt no pride of late when I’ve come across it. I have even felt shame or embarrassment; I’m not sure which. It was a first for me in all my years of being a citizen of what I thought was already a great country. This morning after I got my coffee, I saw this flag that is always there, but which I’ve avoided. I turned around, came back, and took a picture. I think I will begin to have pride in America again. I believe for the first time in four years that we will get through this, and that Trump will no longer have a platform from which to do what he calls leading and I call destroying.
I have learned a lot. I realize that a good number of my fellow citizens are disenfranchised and don’t believe in their own future or that of their children. I realize now that we have not come as far as I thought we had in our race relations, and that it’s my own personal responsibility to work toward getting there myself. I have learned that I have to watch and evaluate my country’s leaders and pay closer attention to those who get my precious vote. I have learned that I have a larger responsibility in what happens in this country than I’d realized, or wanted, actually. I have heard the wake-up call, and I will do better.
We do the best we can, and when we know better, we do better. That’s Maya Angelou’s sentiment and my new responsibility.