a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
A short musing on the 2022 midterm election
Premature cold ices down most of the West, shoulders mean into Tucson, where we unpack sweaters and wait for midterm ballots to be counted.
Mark Kelly kept his Senate seat, and we danced on our frosty toes. But, Arizona’s gubernatorial race? It was tight as the knots in my stomach. Who would lead us the next four years? Slick former model/TV news anchor Trump-endorsed Kari Lake, who ran a campaign based on conspiracy theories, false accusations and fear or former social worker Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a moderate Democrat who’s promised to fight for clean energy, protect national parks and Arizona’s dwindling water resources, to fight for a woman’s sovereignty over her body, for LGBT rights as well as to continue to advocate for Arizona’s Indigenous Peoples.
For an independent like me, Lake was a throwback to the braggadocio and hate-filled frothings I shrank from after the 2016 Presidential elections. That this election was so close makes my head hurt. Lake’s debut campaign rally on the rim of the Grand Canyon was attended by Arizona’s White Supremacy groups. Men in camo flexed muscles bulging with tattoos, automatic weapons cradled to their chests. Trump patted Lake on her designer jacket. Lake’s platform? Since in her eyes Trump was swindled out of the presidency by a corrupt election, she promised to drain the swamp. But, this is a desert. Lake vowed to outlaw all abortions, resume building the steel-plated wall of shame along the U.S./Mexico border and to create jobs by scrapping environmental laws that hinder pollution-belching corporations like mining. She’s already chipping her front teeth on the mic complaining that Arizona is “The laughingstock of elections.” Never mind, Arizona elections are overseen by a Republican and took so long to tally because of Trump’s accusations of election fraud.
Lake is unlikely to concede.
What impressed me about this election? Whether Republican or Democrat, no loser hesitated to concede in a respectful manner. Civility reigned. Are most Americans weary of our nation’s bipolar breakdown? Seek normalcy, decency? And young people turned out in large numbers. They recognize we need to heal the damage we’ve done to our planet, that we need to help one another. Their future depends on it.
For five days, I tried not to bite off the skin around my fingernails or dive into an abyss of what ifs. When I felt myself slip, I played tug of war with my rescue puppy Talulah or drank ginger tea. Wild birds stuff themselves with seed against this unseasonable cold, just one biproduct of Climate Change. It will dip down into the 30s. Finally I’ve stopped checking every few hours for election results on the internet, a fool’s game of obsession and impatience. Might as well light a candle on the patio to heat our desert house. When Katie Hobbs is declared the winner, champagne corks pop all over town.
Pam Uschuk’s eight books of poems include Crazy Love, winner of an American Book Award, and Refugee, Red Hen Press, May 2022. Translated into more than a dozen languages, her work appears in Poetry, Ploughshares, Agni Review, etc. Awards include Best of the Web, Story Knife Women Writers Fellowship, Dorothy Daniels Writing Award from the National League of American PEN Women, and prizes from Ascent and Amnesty International. Editor-In-Chief of CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, and Senior BEI Fellow, Uschuk lives in Colorado and Arizona with her husband William Root and dogs Talulah and Mojo Buffalo Buddy. She edited the anthologies Truth To Power: Writers Respond To The Rhetoric Of Hate And Fear, 2017, Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, and Through The Ash, New Leaves, 2022. She’s just finished a multi-genre memoir titled HOPE’S CRAZED ANGELS: AN ODYSSEY THROUGH OVARIAN CANCER.