When I was a child, my parents would sometimes take me out of the city and to the Catskill Mountains where my father was raised. There, in rustic accommodation, we would spend some weeks during the summer, happy to be out of the heat and humidity. But for a child used to the protective shield of tall urban buildings, I would be fearful when a summer storm, with high gusts, thunder and lightning would rage across the country horizon and pelt the windows and roof of our cabin.
Seeing my fright, my mother would leap into action. “Oh good,” she would say. “It’s a perfect day for pancakes.” As I would watch, she would whip eggs and milk from the antiquated refrigerator, then heat some cooking oil in a pan. She would ask me to beat the eggs while she measured out the flour and in short order the divine smell of frying pancakes would fill the kitchen. The storm outside now merely made the feast inside more cozy and safe, and by the time my mother, sister and I finished eating and looked up from the table, the summer squall would be gone.
Security, thy name was silver dollar pancakes.
In these unsettled times of postpresidential election, how I wish I could cook up some pancakes to help calm the people around me. My neighbors, my friends, our readers, many of them seem anxious, even afraid. Whether they voted for Clinton or Trump, they don’t like what they are hearing about bullying, demonstrations that can turn violent and slurs that seem to have been unleashed by the election. With each possible pick for the new administration, from chief strategist to possible EPA chief to a trial balloon for secretary of state, a shudder goes through the minds of many. Our outgoing president urges us to give some space to the incoming one, and then leaves the country for his last overseas trip. He has already visited Greece with Germany and Peru to follow, undoubtedly to try and calm those unsettled by the election in distant capitals. Anxiety, it seems, is global, but not entirely.
The stock markets are celebrating. The prospect of government spending on infrastructure and tax cuts that will stimulate the economy has sent the markets around the world on a tear as they hit all-time highs. Monetary policy is out — fiscal stimulus is in. At least that is the presumption at this first blush of transition to a new administration.
Meanwhile we have a country that is equally divided. What could be better proof than to have the razor-thin popular vote go one way and the Electoral College go the other way. How do we deal with that?
Despite the closeness of the election, the fact remains that the GOP won and won across the board: senators, representatives and governors. At least the next two years of political party leadership have been determined, and there is no further contest for now. But we also, as a democracy, are obligated to protect the rights of the minority — all minorities. That’s the part of the definition that some majorities don’t get. If we could all acknowledge and teach that point, those who feel threatened because they are in the minority could stop being afraid.
Further, the GOP is not a monolithic bloc — there is not just one shade of red. Nor are the Dems just one color blue. There is enough potential for bipartisanship as long as neither side digs in and vows to prevent cooperation between the parties. We Americans want our elected leaders to work actively on our behalf, not just to abdicate and coast in office. It will take the best of both sides to steer our nation through these challenging times. And by the way, the times have always been challenging.
We, on Long Island, have set a pretty good example with our state, county and town legislators often working together for the regional good, regardless of party. So there is hope. That’s my impression — and I’m not just serving up pancakes.