How to Beat TAD (Trump Anxiety Disorder) by Gail Sheehy

My first TAD-free Saturday this fall began with rising at 4 am in time to pack sandwiches and power bars and drive with a friend who set aside her new diagnosis of cancer to drive us to Westhampton Beach to catch a low-rent bus and join hundreds of other busses from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Westchester bursting with a battalion of volunteers for Hillary.

Our mission: To swarm Philadelphia and register new voters.
This is one of the best ways to beat TAD. Go back to when America appreciated our freedom to help decide on our leaders no matter what our color, faith, gender, sexual identity or political views.

Feet stamping and hands rubbing against the first fall cold snap, we waited in a parking lot for the delayed bus, griping about the latest Trump lollapalooza of a lie. Persuaded by his new campaign sanitizers, this pathological liar tried to walk back his poisonous five-year campaign to convince Americans that our president is an alien Muslim from Africa. But in the next breath, he reverted to type, blaming others for his own unforgivables. It was all the Clintons' fault. Really?

As the NYTimes reported, he conjured up a bizarre new deception, congratulating himself for putting to rest the doubts about Mr. Obama that he had fanned since 2011. It was his opponent, Hillary Clinton, he said, who started the so-called birther movement. If you believe that, you probably also believe that Hillary started ISIS. How do you know? Donald Trump said so.

Somebody read off an iPhone the Times' news story – the first, to my knowledge—where the paper of record finally gave up on euphemisms for Trump's incessant stream of "untruths," "misspokes," and "casual elasticity with the truth." They called this one what they all are: Lies. "But this lie was different from the start," wrote the Times' Michael Barbaro, "an insidious, calculated calumny that sought to undo the embrace of an African-American president by the 69 million voters who elected him in 2008."

Why is it that Hillary—using a private email server in the vain hope of avoiding a witch hunt by Republican Congressional committees of the thousands of emails she would write as American's top diplomat to the world-- why is she on the Most- Wanted List for Liar of the Century?

But once we were rolling down Rte 110, our "bus Mama," Robin Long, a feisty Southampton attorney, began the training that gave us a sense of purpose. By registering new people to vote, we would be giving voice to communities that value love and kindness and optimism over hate, fear , and pessimism.

That message and the passing out of muffins and bagels and sharing seats with all ages---white-haired second wave feminists, earnest college freshmen, men of means and retired radicals —began to unify us in our mission. Robin Long suggested four quick simple reasons we could offer new voters in an election that may be the most important in their lifetime:

-CHANGE THE SUPREME COURT. As many as four possible vacancies in the first term of the new president could launch a new progressive era.

--CRUSH THE TRUMP LIE THAT OUR VOTING SYSTEM IS "RIGGED." How dare he cast doubts on the fairest election system in the world while he praises Putin as a better leader than Obama because the Russian dictator gets 88 % approval rating? As Obama says, Saddam got 98% and Kim Jong Un 100.



When we disembarked in North Philly at a community park, we were met by longterm volunteers armed to the teeth with tips and scripts, house by house resident names, Clinton lit, and "I Commit to Hiilary" post cards. They sounded a little like a loyalty oath, but it is really a rather clever way to get the new voter to sign with his or her address and receive a reminder in the mail shortly before election day.

The turf we were assigned was the Kensington neighborhood. Starting to ring doorbells on a street of three –story brick and stucco attached houses, we soon learned that women ruled the roost. They filled out the registration form for their elderly Spanish-speaking parents and casually explained why the son or brother whose name was listed at their address was not there.--

The Kensington neighborhood repudiates the lie that Trump perpetuates when he disparages all minority inner cities "run by Democrats" as "disasters" and "war zones."

In Philly today, many minority communities rock. Lots of housing stock is in reclamation, and home ownership by minorities is way up. On every second or third block in this largely Puerto Rican area, a vacant lot has been brought to vibrant life. It's a community garden or a sculpture park. In one leafy sculpture garden, a massive stone sculpture of a Buddha head welcomed people to a quiet place to meditate.

The sense of community was a living, breathing atmosphere. Residents were proud to show off their painstakingly tended vegetable gardens with rows upon rows of savory vegetables, flowers and herbs. Eddie and Dolly Torres showed us their "herb house" [see photo] and the massive compost heap they keep for the neighborhood. Children showed pride in helping. Teens showed off the massive murals they have painted on walls left scabbed by demolition.

Raquel Melendez and her sister Jajaira love looking across the street at a three – story tree of life, painted by the neighborhood kids [see photo]. Every few blocks we found walls left scabbed by demolition turned into high folk art.

We were amazed to find that most of the residents were already registered and proud of it. A number had even voted in the primary only a couple of months ago. Most were grimly committed to Hillary. Young people, like the pre-teen in the Mr. Softee truck, handed me a milkshake and seeing my Hillary sticker, called out, "My mama voted for Hillary."

Only one middle-age man tinkering with his car was surly. Asked if he was voting for Hillary, he seethed, "I'm a deplorable."
I broke out of my script. "'Hey, it was one mistake, and she apologized for saying it."
"It only takes one."
"Really? How would Trump rate on that scoring?"

Shut my mouth! Resume happy face. Volunteers are supposed to be remembered as the most pleasant Democrats they have ever encountered.

The most touching response was from a young Latino man who interpreted for his 80 year old grandfather from San Juan. Enrique ran upstairs to get the voter registration card he'd received in the mail. He chased us up the street to ask where he could take it, so eager to prove that he's legal. If he's ok to vote, that must prove he's an American, right? Right.

But the fear has been planted. Enrique slips off his flipflop to show us the white stripe where the sun has never touched his brown foot. "If Trump is elected, I need to show him this so he knows I'm not all bad."
TAD is right there, just below the surface. It's the nagging peril felt my most anyone of color living in these raw racist times, an anxiety white folks like us never encounter. Unless we venture into neighborhoods like this and see the hope. #

'Sheehy In Philly sculpture garden''Latina sisters Raquel and Jajaira Melendez by wall mural of Tree of Life''Dolly & Eddie Torres tend community compost in Keningston'F


September 22, 2016

Addendum. Have you stories to tell about canvassing? Write them in comments below.

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