The midterm elections proved that you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Well, maybe you can try, but eventually folks will see through the cover-up.
That expression, “lipstick on a pig,” pops up from time to time during elections. In 2008, President Barack Obama said that a supposedly new economic plan proposed by his opponents, John McCain and Sarah Palin, was nothing new, “just putting lipstick on a pig.” Republicans went ballistic, accusing Obama of slyly associating the pig patter with Palin. Obama said his comment was about policy, not people. Anyway, he wasn’t the first or the last to use the expression, which, you must admit, conjures a compelling visual.
This election season, the GOP sent forth dozens of MAGA election deniers to run for important and influential offices across the country. Republican influencers in and out of government, complemented by seriously delusional fringe groups like QAnon, tried their best to put lipstick on these pigs, but they didn’t fly. Fortunately, most of the Republicans who were elected or re-elected to office aren’t conspiracy theorists or election deniers.
This seems like a low bar, but there it is. Don’t we all want a fair fight in the campaigns for office? And when someone clearly wins, don’t we all want to see the opponent concede defeat and move on? Thank goodness that’s what happened most often in the days after Nov. 8.
I am relieved and thankful, as we prepare to gather for Thanksgiving, that the worst-case predictions for a toxic MAGA wave did not happen. Some Trumpian candidates prevailed, but more were defeated. Voters looked at extremist candidates, anointed by the former president, and they said no. Not all the votes are counted in all the contests, and in Georgia there will be a runoff for a Senate seat, but overall the process has been peaceful and civil — and consequential.
Are we finally reaching a point where Americans on all sides of the political landscape share a vision for a safe democracy? Are we there yet? Can we count on folks to trust election results? Will candidates fight the good fight and retreat with grace if they lose? We don’t know yet if this midterm portends big changes for the better and a return to relative normal, but the indications are promising. It was not a rout. Rioters did not take to the streets.
The cooling of the political fever gripping the nation allows us to gather at our Thanksgiving tables and truly give thanks. I am so thankful for the greatest gift we can enjoy in this life: peace of mind. We all experience occasional setbacks and losses, but with peace of mind we can negotiate our difficult life passages.
This isn’t November 2020 or November 2021, when the pandemic was burning through our population. We still have about 40,000 new Covid cases a day, but we have vaccines and anti-virals, greater understanding of the disease and less panic. At the height of the pandemic surge, it was difficult to find peace.
On Thanksgiving 2020, my husband and I sat down to a chicken rather than a turkey. We were grateful for one another but terribly lonely for our kids, who live plane flights away and couldn’t risk travel during the fury of the pandemic.
The years of Covid restrictions and isolation offered random gifts as well: learning to find strength we didn’t know was there, finding ways to connect with loved ones through words and Zooms and eye to eye, six feet apart. I would never wish it for character-building, but living through a pandemic has heightened our zest for life and attuned us to the nourishing rhythms of nature.
I noticed recently that many people, rather than saying goodbye, now say “stay safe” when they come and go. That speaks to our relatively new belief that the ground can shift under our feet in an instant. Some threats can be mitigated and some blindside us, but we survivors of the pandemic and the political maelstrom have been changed by these years. We say “stay safe” as a kind of hope and benediction for our friends and loved ones.
I hope you are blessed with friends and mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and children and grandchildren and neighbors at your Thanksgiving table. Along with peace of mind, let there be delicious turkey and sweet potatoes and cranberries and pies, all the traditional foods that anchor us to this time and place, and to one another.
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.