On November 9th, 2016, Kalamazoo College was pretty quiet.
I visited typically bustling places on campus to find them still and hushed. I heard reports from friends and strangers alike of half-full classrooms and aching silence from K’s most dynamic professors. I know international students who were only half-joking about packing up and returning home; I know American students who longed to go with them.
And boy, did I feel for our tour guides. There should be medals for trying to convince high school seniors how much fun the college can be as teary-eyed students pass by in droves on the way to Upjohn.
K, like the rest of the country, has had to grapple with the sickeningly-tangible reality of the impending Trump administration, when so many of us thought, not so long ago, the very notion was laughable. Maybe the blow would have been softer had the pollsters not been so wrong, or maybe knowing would have made the whole ordeal that much worse. Maybe it doesn’t matter.
There are a lot of reasons to fear. You know them, you’ve probably felt them. President-elect Trump fails to inspire confidence; as of Friday, a Quinnipiac University poll has him at an abysmal 37% approval rating, the lowest of any president-elect in decades (sad!).
But for a moment – one of the few we’re likely to get in the next four years – let’s not talk about the chauvinistic circus peanut.
Instead, the country has a few shining days left of President Barack Hussein Obama – sitting pretty at a 55% approval rating – alongside his brilliant, beautiful daughters and an absolute marvel of a First Lady. I propose that, instead of waiting in agony for January 20th to come, we relish these final days, and hope they will give us strength for what may come.
Politics aside – a hard way to operate these days – there will be much to miss as our president leaves office. It will be some time until we have a White House family as beloved, as relatable, or as scandal-free as the Obamas. It may also be a long time before we have another president who is so overwhelmingly human; one who tells copious amounts of dad jokes, dances with Ellen DeGeneres, and makes fun of himself in Vines. And, of course, we will never again know a political love story as pure and true as that of Barack Obama and Joe Biden – nor will the memes ever be so dank.
So thank you, President Obama – for your grace, your compassion, your humor, and your heart. May you enjoy a well-deserved break, and may you return to us and to the public sphere soon: honest, unapologetic, and prepared to crusade. May you and yours continue to thrive as you continue into this next phase of life, and may your legacy endure the uncaring wrath of ignorant men just as you have for the last eight years.