“I can’t believe my father voted for Trump,” wailed a waitress at my favorite diner. “I’m Latina and LBGTQ. I’ve been up half the night reading Facebook and de-friending people.”
I suggested now wasn’t the time to break off important relationships. Some of my favorite family members, old-school Republicans, also voted for Trump but with gritted teeth. While Thanksgiving is usually a happy holiday, this one could definitely prompt some heavy drinking. Now in my forties, I was too old (and had too much therapy) to start a fight that would just trigger discord among people I loved. I tried to convey this to the waitress, who was in her 20s and in pain.
“Oh, I think it’s the perfect time to clean house,” she said to me with disgust. “How could they vote against me and everything I stand for? Is that what they thought of me all along?”
Uncomfortable with the silence that followed, I paid for my coffee and left.
Later, I stumbled on an idea inspired by Khizr Khan, the Muslim father of the U.S. Army captain who defiantly held up his copy of the Constitution at the Democratic National Convention. His gesture made pocket Constitutions the second-bestselling book on Amazon.
What could be more inclusive than handing out Constitutions at Thanksgiving? If you voted for Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein or no one at all, you were evil, if you dared tell the wrong person. To me, our Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, was a type of civil religion. Lasting 228 years, unfathomable in our digital age, it is the oldest written and continuously used governing charter in the world. Yes, it was signed by white guys, many of whom owned slaves, but they were ahead of their time and got along well enough to transcend human nature with a magnificent document.
When my bundle ofConstitutions arrived from Amazon, I flipped through a copy to refresh my memory. Wanting conversation, I called my childhood friend who is a U.S. history teacher in Indiana. (In the land of Trump, my buddy voted for Clinton.)“I like the post-Civil War amendments,” he said to me over the phone. “The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments freed slaves and allowed them to vote.”
I argued these amendments may not always be enforced and may have contributed to a system of incarceration.
“But they are still a big deal because we wrote them into the Constitution to try to right a sin,” he said, reminding me that amendments must be ratified by three-fourths of the states, a painstaking process. If it makes you feel better, the 27th amendment -- which deals with salaries of senators and representatives -- took 202 years and 225 days to be ratified. While Trump could alter our Constitution, it would be hard, my pal assured me. And as far as corrupt leaders are concerned, we’ve seen them before. Think William Harding and Richard Nixon.
“I think we’ll survive,” my pal said. “If we don’t kill each other first on social media.”
When I returned to my favorite diner, I handed copies to three staff people: a waiter, the owner and the waitress who was so distressed after the election. I had no idea how each voted, but all three of them lit up when I gave it to them, an endorsement if I ever saw one.