The Amazon Trail

Me and My Pin

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 
“I thought I was the only one,” the stranger said in a low voice.
It wasn’t 1957, or even 1977. It was last week, at the grand opening of a supermarket in town.
He was gray-haired, tall, dressed like a ranch hand. His smile was sheepish, his eyes conspiratorial.
He wasn’t talking about finding a kindred gay soul. He pointed to my pin, the “H” arrow of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. I smiled back at him. We enthused, we commiserated, we talked about the conservative places we’d moved away from. I wanted to assure him that our town was liberal, that there were more of us, but, where were the political buttons?
We were a month away from the presidential election. The stranger made me realize that I hadn’t seen anyone wearing a Clinton pin either. Or a he-who-shall-not-be-named pin. No bumper stickers. This election is intimidating: no one wants to show her or his colors.
I admit to feeling a moment of disquiet when I attached the pins to my vests. My neighbors know I’m gay and act very accepting, but there are bound to be Hillary haters in this over-fifty-five community. What was I letting myself in for?
Then the stranger told me the story of going door to door in 2008, asking permission to install Obama lawn signs in front yards. Part of his rural county borders Harney County, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation took place in January, 2016. Nevertheless, he did his bit and planted those signs all day.
The very next day, said the stranger, his signs were all torn down and smashed up.
He was feeling gunshy when we met and happy to find another Clinton supporter. He asked where to get a button like mine. There was no place local so I sent him to the internet. (https://shop.hillaryclinton.com/collections/new-arrivals)
Remember the days when there were party headquarters in practically every town? Big banners on storefronts, red, white, and blue bunting. Cars with loudspeakers that trawled through neighborhoods, playing patriotic music and touting their candidates? Volunteers or even paid workers who pressed buttons on passersby? Often, the buttons were tiny tin circles you attached to clothing by folding a tab at the top?
All those funds go to TV, the USPS, and the web now. I get one to two emails a day from the Clinton campaign, not even counting Facebook and Twitter promotions. There are no face to face human appeals or exchanges. My sweetheart answered the phone the other evening and spoke for a while with a young woman about a candidate for our state election. One of the questions my sweetheart asked was, “Who is he running against?” The campaigner had no idea.
It might infuriate me to see someone wearing an opposition pin, but this graphic silence is worrisome. Is the atmosphere in the US so uncivil that we fear to speak out? When one candidate hints that assassination might solve some problems, what craziness can me and my pin expect from politically frustrated followers who are desperate to get their candidate elected?
A day or two after my encounter with the liberal stranger, a cashier at the McDonald’s drive-in spotted my pin and asked where to get one. The servers were bogged down and as I idled, she told me how worried she was that he-who-shall-not-be-named might be elected.
A friend sent two more pins. Now I have four. No, I don’t wear them all at once. I haven’t done that since my gay liberation, feminist, peace and civil rights activist days. You kind of had to back then, there was so much going on.
Every contact since then, between my pins and me and the townsfolk, has been has been heartening. The women don’t always say something, but they spot the pin, look up at me and, I swear, their eyes twinkle, or at least their crows’ feet wrinkle into smile lines. But their lips are sealed.
I still haven’t seen other Clinton buttons or bumper stickers. Maybe it’s because I don’t go out much. Yesterday, though, I saw my first he-who display. Big clean new-looking white SUV with a red, white, and blue over-sized bumper sticker. Stuck out like a very sore thumb in that parking lot full of Subarus, muddy pickups and little old Toyotas.
Has silence settled over the whole of the US? Are voters in denial of this good vs. evil election? Why aren’t we the people speaking up in ways we used to? I can’t help but wonder if some folks fear repercussions should the demagogue sit in the White House. Or perhaps it’s simply that women tend not to be boisterous in word or political gear. Are not generally raised to speak our minds.
Because the last words of the now smiling stranger in the grocery store were these: “I believe it’s the women who’ll win this one for us.”

Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

13 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”


  1. 1 Widdershins November 2, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    I think your entire country is starting to hold its breath … waiting to exhale on the 9th.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 3 Ann Aptaker November 2, 2016 at 2:15 PM

    Thank you, Lee, for expressing this. Even here in Gotham, Hillary country if ever there was one, I don’t see many Hillary pins or window signs or anything else. Even here, we are reticent to start a ruckus.

    Six more days until our collective headache is finally relieved or turns into a life, limb, and freedom threatening brain aneurism. We all need to be “with her” now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 5 S.A. November 2, 2016 at 3:44 PM

    Interesting points, Lee – with all the bombardment via electronic channels, I haven’t been as attuned to the fact that the “in person” supports are more muted now than they used to be. I think this whole campaign has been so contentious that people are shying away from voicing support for/opposition to candidates in order to avoid conflict with family, friends, neighbors. However, I quite agree with the man you met – it’s the women voters who can decide this election, and quite decisively, given the Republican candidate’s clear derision of our sex. So to all you women out there – please vote! Yes, your vote matters!! So very much in this election in particular! As always, Lee, a great blog; thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 7 Devlyn November 2, 2016 at 11:05 PM

    Living in Australia, we aren’t getting much news on the USA election except to say Clinton has email problems and Trump is ahead in the approval ratings, which quite frankly scares the crap out of me and my friends. We all say ” surely not”. I do have heaps of American Facebook friends and all of them are voting for HRC as far as I know, which gives me hope.
    As the world watches on from afar, I applaud those within who are fighting the good fight and doing everything they can to ensure that a reality TV personality, misogynyst, narcissistic, bully, alleged rapist, isn’t elected to the highest office in the USA.
    So wear your buttons, display your signs and don’t let the arseholes get to you, but after all is said and done, stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 8 Lee Lynch November 3, 2016 at 5:22 PM

      Fortunately, Trump is not ahead in all the approval ratings. It’s unthinkable that any American approve of him. I’m ashamed of those who do. Thank you for your great support.

      Like

  5. 9 sequimmorgayne November 3, 2016 at 4:05 PM

    Hey Lee. Great blog. I have an I heart Hillary bumper sticker. Today I had an appointment at the clinic and when I came out there was a car parked next to mine with these two bumper stickers: I am a Christian and I vote AND Four people died and Hillary lied. There were lots of parking spaces. I couldn’t help but wonder if they parked next to me intentionally. Even here in this little town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington there is a sense of pause when it comes to politics. I don’t remember ever being afraid before to say who I am voting for. I honestly believe that it is because a womyn is running. An experienced and capable womyn! And why can’t we shout it to the heavens that we are voting for a womyn…a uniquely qualified womyn? I can’t wait for the patriarchy to crumble.

    I believe that we will prevail. I am buying a bottle of wine November 8th to celebrate at the end of the day! I’ll have a drink for you. Warmest, Morgayne Love

    Like

  6. 10 Lee Lynch November 3, 2016 at 5:25 PM

    Misogyny and racism have been lying in wait – and look at the monster they produced. I fear for Secretary Clinton. She is one strong American. I’ll raise my green tea to you.

    Like

  7. 11 connie ward November 4, 2016 at 1:25 PM

    Lee, as always beautifully done. We wore our Hillary t-shirts all over town yesterday & saw many women of color. Like you, I saw a sparkle in some eyes looking at our shirts, but many people here seem to be totally afraid to say a word. I’m ready for Tuesday to be over & hoping Hillary wins.

    Thanks for all you do & your wonderful Amazon Trail.

    Like

    • 12 Lee Lynch November 4, 2016 at 5:03 PM

      How sad that our country is like this now. Let’s plan a victory celebration for next Wednesday! Thanks for your appreciation. You know it makes all the difference.

      Like


  1. 1 Politics and lesbian fiction – Women and Words Trackback on November 7, 2016 at 6:03 AM

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