The only upside to the Trump presidency I see is a renewed fire in the belly among those of us of a certain age who haven’t protested in a Very Long Time. At first, we almost mistook the fire for reflux.
This renewed passion for politics is here to stay and we have the vacationer-in-chief to thank for it.
For the longest, I couldn’t quite place who Trump reminds me of and then it hit: He’s Mr. Potter, the heartless, mischief-making banker in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
To put it in modern terms, when Donald Trump tries to act presidential, it’s like when the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills visit a Buddhist shrine and try to look visibly moved. You can practically hear the director hissing “Try to LOOK like you care about this stuff.”
So we have Mr. Potter’s meanness matched by the superficial spirituality of the silly housewives whose closest brush with Buddha before their trip to Hong Kong was ordering a cocktail named after him that you could set on fire.
Every time Trump tromps all over the Constitution, our hackles raise in places we didn’t even know we had such things. So we take our belly fire and raised hackles to our local Congressman’s town hall meeting.
We also take one close friend and two women we don’t know but instantly like and plan to play bunco with someday soon. This new sisterhood is less traveling pants and more talk of hormone replacement therapy and casserole Pins but I’m grateful for it.
The next couple of weeks, we dutifully follow up with phone calls to this same Congressman. Frankly, we wish we could just text, preferably with various sad emojis, but this calls for actual conversation.
It’s hard to get through because there are so many of us doing the same thing. “A good problem to have” we say pluckily to one another.
After a few tries, I finally get through to a live person in the Congressman’s office but discover I’m oddly nervous. Suddenly, I’m Jimmy Stewart sinking deep into that purposely too-low chair in Mr. Potter’s office. Where to start? I keep it simple. He asks for my last name but can’t understand it. Can I spell it? Again? And then it hits me. My last name, in this Congressman’s district, is as common as “Smith” or “Jones” anywhere else. Rivenbarks never leave Eastern North Carolina, even when others invite us to and seem only too happy to give directions. We are like the vast and honorable Stoltzfus family of Pennsylvania Dutch country except we have zippers.
I consider, then decide against, asking the aide who his people are. I know this sounds churlish but, on the other hand, if your boss is the voice for thousands of Rivenbarks, shouldn’t your staff have a passing familiarity? I bet the Stoltzfuses Congressional office wouldn’t skip a beat. (“Oh, I played rugby with a Jakob Stoltzfus. Any relation? Heckuva guy…”)
The fire remains, but now there’s legit heartburn.