After three months of internal darkness and coping with grief, this past weekend offered some soothing reprieve. Over the years, I’ve realized I’m a person who desires to see the world but adores her small town. For me, a place like Waynesville is a perfect home base, a haven to recharge.
Fidel Castro’s death should remind us that we are oftentimes more powerless and rudderless than our country’s leaders like to admit when it comes to foreign policy.
And that’s a timely lesson as a president who promised change prepares to leave his office to a president-elect who also promises change. Castro is a nagging symbol of how difficult it is even for a country as big and powerful as the U.S. to steer the world in the way we think it should go. Oftentimes, despite our best intentions or our horrible mistakes, we just can’t have it our way.
I’ve always embraced change, perhaps to my detriment. I suspect it has something to do with a youth where we moved to different homes as often as most people buy new sneakers, so it just seems normal — and somewhat cathartic — to do things differently, even to the point of dropping old traditions and embracing new ones.
But some change I can’t accept, and one of those is Thanksgiving without deviled eggs that taste as much like my mom’s as possible. Some things are, after all, sacrosanct.
It has been a few weeks now since the election, and I feel like someone who just came out of a coma and woke up in the hospital after suffering a traumatic injury. I am surrounded by dozens of cards and letters from friends assuring me that I am going to be OK and that “everything is going to be fine.”
A couple of friends are by my side, trying to explain what happened, but I gradually realize they are speaking another language and I have no idea what they are saying. I tell them that I do not feel fine, but they just smile and nod. My head hurts and my toes are burning like French fries in hot grease. On a little table next to my bed, there is a half-eaten container of blue Jello, and next to that, my heart, slimy and still beating, as if the doctor — perhaps a graduate of Trump University — forgot to put it back in before sewing me back up.
Don’t worry. This column isn’t about the election. There’s plenty of that going on elsewhere.
With that being said, I really appreciated Hillary’s slogan during her campaign. Stronger together. I like when a couple simple words unite to make an impact.
So this, perhaps, is how we in the traditional — and dare I say legitimate — media will meet our demise: fake news.
And just this past Saturday I was so optimistic that traditional journalism was somehow going to survive. I was visiting my daughter and some friends at Appalachian State and had a conversation with a college senior who is doing an internship at a High Country newspaper. He was full of that youthful excitement about journalism and was unrestrained about his desire to pursue a print newspaper job after seeing the effect his stories had in the small community his newspaper serves. I came home thinking of my own ambitions at that age and believing that young people like him would surely help our industry continue to do its important mission in our democratic society.
I needed nearly a full day after the election before I could formulate a response to the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States.
Just before 10 p.m. on election night, as Florida and North Carolina broke for Trump and it began to dawn on everyone that all the pollsters and pundits had had it all wrong, I must have read two dozen posts on Facebook ranging in tone from delirious celebration to abject misery to complete disbelief, but I contributed nothing because I just could not believe what was unfolding.
We are a democratic republic, not a pure democracy. I was reminded of that in a most unusual way at a most unusual place.
My wife Lori and I were descending the 15,355-foot-high Condor Pass in the Peruvian Andes on Wednesday, Nov. 9, when I turned to Bram — an engineer from Belgium who was part of our group and also happened to have an international phone plan — and told him I couldn’t hold out any longer.
I feel strongly about politics. I hope — with all the hope I can muster — that Donald Trump loses this election. I have major differences with his positions regarding taxes, immigration, public schools, foreign policy and a host of other issues. I think he has stoked some of the most vile tendencies in human nature — racism, sexism, bigotry, and xenophobia, to name a few.
Thankfully, few Americans embrace those characteristics, but some who do have been emboldened by his success.
Editor’s note: This is a letter former FBI agent Mark Swanger Jr. sent to current FBI Director James Comey. Swanger is the current chairman of the Haywood County Commissioners.
As a retired FBI Agent, I write to express my view of your recent actions regarding the so-called email scandal involving Hillary Clinton.