It’s been a while since I published a post. And that’s not because I haven’t been actively making memories. I have a number of them, waiting in the wings of my mind, ready to be written. But, it’s this post that’s been clogging things up. It’s this post that has kept my writing blocked.
I suppose I’ve been waiting for the current President to actually concede and have this election made official. Until then, I feel like I’m caught in limbo. I mean, for the past 17 days, I’ve been asking myself whether I’ve actually witnessed Joe Biden win.
The delay in Trump’s concession, as well as so many of his enablers not pushing for the formal transition process to begin, is disconcerting at best. At worst, I see it as yet another step towards authoritarianism. I guess this anxiety is also one of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to write this post. It’s heavy, and wow, does it weigh on my heart.
My maternal grandmother’s family – consisting of my great-grandparents and 5 children – who lived in Warsaw when Hitler came to power, all but my Baba and her older brother perished in the Holocaust. My grandmother never spoke about her experiences, but her brother did. A lot.
I remember asking my great uncle a question that seemed like it should be so easily answered: “Since you so clearly saw the writing on the wall, that Nazi Germany was becoming increasingly more powerful and dangerous, why didn’t you escape Poland when you had the chance?”
His answer was brief: “We never thought it would get that bad.”
Back in August, when I was compiling my Memory List, this was the memory I wanted to come true most of all. Even more than watching the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup, and for those that know me, they know how huge of a deal that would have been! I’m not really a fan of Biden. I voted for a different candidate in the Democratic primaries. But, the DNC could have nominated anyone and I would have been rooting for them to win. This election, for me, was all about hoping that Trump was not granted a second term.
In the past 4 years, a lot of horrifying things have happened under Trump’s leadership. I saw Nazi flags waving in the streets of Charlottesville. I’ve seen legal asylum-seekers separated from their families and imprisoned in concentration camps. I’ve read newspaper headlines that actually used the phrase “Secret Police”, reminiscent of the force Hitler had of the same name (Gestapo).
Given my family history, I know a lot about Hitler’s rise to power. He didn’t garner the majority of support from the German people, but his followers were extremely passionate about his policies, and there were enough people in the country who were indifferent to what he was doing. Perhaps they, too, never thought it would get that bad. The similarities are uncanny. And terrifying.
I remember seeing those words in the news article about unmarked vans whisking away protesters in Portland this past summer: Secret Police. A shiver coursed through me. That’s when it hit home for me. That’s the moment I knew that a second Trump term would be devastating for me. What what they prosecute me for first? Me being Jewish, a lesbian, or an immigrant? Dealer’s choice, I guess.
All I knew was that a Trump win meant I’d be leaving. I didn’t want to move. I’m not done living here, but I certainly wasn’t going to risk sticking around because I had doubts that it would ever get that bad. After all, as Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I know this history, and I know how bad it could get.
So, as I wait impatiently for President-Elect Biden to be inaugurated on January 20, 2021, I’m also watching Trump desperately cling to his chances of becoming the leader of an authoritarian regime as they slip away.
Hopefully, once I’m able to truly breathe again and sleep through the night, without all this fog of incompleteness hanging over me, I’ll be able to document some more light-hearted memories.