The Fault, Dear Brutus

Photo: Arnaud Jaegers. Free use via Unsplash.

As I watched the final election returns, I felt sick. We had elected a madman to lead our country — yet again.

As I thought about what this would mean for the next four years, my mind reeled. I turned off the TV and went to bed.

When I got downstairs in the morning, my wife was sitting at the kitchen table. She’d finished breakfast and was sipping her coffee. Her laptop was open in front of her.

“How long did you stay up last night?” she said.

“Too long.”

She made a sad face.

“Come here,” she said.

I stepped over, and she wrapped her arms around my waist and gave me a hug.

“It will be okay,” she said.

“I’m not sure.”

She let go and looked up at me.

“What’s wrong?” she said.

“I don’t know. I guess I’m afraid.”

“Of what?”

“Of what’s become of us.”

“You mean what will become of us.”

“No. What’s already become of us that something like this could happen.”

“But you don’t really mean us. We didn’t vote for him.”

“You’re right, I guess. I mean them.”


“You know, all those idiots who voted for him.”

“Now wait a minute, Jim. We both know a lot of people who voted for him, my father included.”

“I didn’t mean your father.”

“But Dad did vote for him. So did Caroline.”

“Don’t remind me. Where did I go wrong?”

“Jim! Caroline is a very thoughtful young lady.”

“I know. It’s just …”

“Just what?”

“It’s just that it doesn’t make any sense. How could anyone ever vote for a man like that?”

“Our country is very divided.”

“It’s more than divided, Deb. It’s toxic.”


“Yeah. I haven’t looked at social media today, but I’m sure we’re at each other’s throats this morning.”

“Maybe so. But hasn’t it always been this way? Haven’t our elections always been contentious?”

“Not like this. And I’m not taking about just elections. People are no longer civil on a good day.”

“Who are you talking about, Jim?”

I was getting frustrated that my own wife didn’t seem more sympathetic.

“Everybody,” I said, buttering my toast.

“Honey, that’s just not true. We both know a lot of good people, people who are respectful.”

“Well, I wish they’d go into politics.”

She was quiet.

“I just wish we had leaders we could look up to,” I said.

“Like who, Jim? We haven’t had a President you’ve liked since I’ve known you.”

She had a point. Damn it.

“Well, there was a time when our President didn’t talk about being a dictator, when I wasn’t afraid democracy might crash and burn.”

“I get it,” she said. “I’m worried about democracy too. Do you know the League of Women Voters had to pay people to work the polls yesterday? That’s never happened before.”

“Is that legal?”

“I don’t know. But what are we going to do if people can’t vote?”

“I guess you’re right.”

”You used to work the polls,” she said quietly.


“Why don’t you anymore?”

“I don’t know.”

“And you were so active with Kiwanis.”

Again, she had a point. I said nothing.

“Jim, I’m sorry. I’m not trying to pick a fight or blame you for anything. I used to be more involved too. We’ve both changed. Now we just sit here all day. We’re online from morning to night. We take Zoom meetings. We hardly see our friends anymore. We don’t even go to church anymore.”

She looked like she could cry.

“You’re right,” I said. “We’ve become insular. Maybe we’re all so divided these days because we don’t really know each other anymore.”

“Yeah, maybe that’s it.”

She looked sad.

“Why don’t we go to dinner tonight?” I said.

“I don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.”

“We can get takeout. I can pick it up.”

“Okay,” she said, turning to her laptop and logging back on.

I popped in a coffee cartridge and brewed myself another cup.

“Have a good —“ I said, about to wish her a good morning.

But she wasn’t paying attention.

“Huh?” she said, still staring at her screen.

“We’ve become like them,” I said.

“What?” she said, looking up with an empty smile.

“Never mind,” I said, turning around and heading upstairs for a meeting.

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