The night after the election, this long-time pacifist dreamed she shot a big white man carrying an arsenal of guns. He was wandering around a room full of people, waving a pistol and threatening to fire. Someone pushed a gun into my hand and said, “Shoot now, while his back is turned!” I shot. Blood seeped from a hole in his back. He fell. I woke up stunned.
And the election results had not changed.
More bad nights have followed, filled with dreams in which people who know me well accuse me of terrible things I haven’t done or of failing to protect people in my charge.
And there have been nights when my partner and I hold each other in the dark and whisper our worst fears. Some of these are personal and selfish: Under the new regime, will I still be able to get the meds that keep me going? Will I have to work for money until I die to keep my health-care benefits? Because I turn 65 next year, will I miss the 2017 Medicare cutoff and fall under Paul Ryan’s plan to turn that program into a voucher system?
Some fears are national: How can the two of us, and the organizations we’re connected with, continue to shield the vulnerable in an era when a white supremacist serves as the president’s chief strategist?
Some are global: Can we hold back the rising seas that are already closing over island nations on a planet where Donald Trump promises to abandon the fight against climate change and walk away from the historic Paris climate accord?
And then, it’s back to the personal again: Just how vulnerable are we, two middle-class white lesbians in our sixties, during a Trump presidency? In the 1980s and 1990s, we used to wonder why the two things our “gay leaders” thought we wanted most in the world were to join the Army and get married. Now, the question isn’t what we’ll be able to do, but what we won’t be able to do.
Admittedly, the two of us will never again need the right to an abortion that a Trump-influenced Supreme Court will probably devolve to the states, essentially abrogating the Roe v. Wade decision. But I did need it in 1975, and I thank God I had it. On the other hand, such a court could easily decide to revisit its 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated sodomy laws. It’s easy enough to forget now that, as recently as 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court opined that no one has “a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy.”
But the terror that’s shaken us the most is that, in the coming years, we might witness the final collapse of the rule of law in this country. I’ve spent the last decade and a half writing about torture and other war crimes committed in the global War on Terror. First, the Bush administration brought us two illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with “enhanced interrogation techniques” and a permanent extralegal prison at Guantánamo Bay. The Obama administration followed with its policy of extrajudicial murder by drone and undeclared, but very real, wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Between them, they twisted and warped and finally broke domestic and international laws of all sorts.