Note – this is not my usual multiple sclerosis commentary blog but something even more important for me to weigh in on. Also, I have disabled comments on this page because I just need to get this out of my head and not turn it into a debate.
Leading up to election day I had a feeling this was going to turn out differently than I and so many others had hoped for. Don’t paint me as just a bad loser. I have backed presidential losers before, starting with the first campaign I worked for before I was even old enough to cast my own vote. I learned that standing in front of a polling place campaigning for George McGovern was a cold, lonely spot, but I never felt afraid or even hesitant to voice my support. My yard sign for Kerry/Edwards still hangs in my garage and at least half of that duo would have been great in office. I’ve always tried to listen to the views of others and have hoped the same would be offered to me.
Fast forward to now and I’m still processing – so much has happened this year, and all of it resonates as deeply personal. I’ve refrained from talking or writing much about our presidential election results. Instead, I have been reading both the positive and negative reactions of others, some who are strangers and others are people I know well. I’ve given the occasional thumbs up on Facebook or skipped commenting at all when I disagreed. I have not ‘unfriended’ a singled person because I’m trying to make sense of it all, as I’m sure so many others are. What I know that I already “don’t get’ is when it became acceptable to toss out civility and speak our minds in the most hatred and ugly ways, proclaiming it is a right under our constitution without understanding that this right also comes with the responsibility and accountability to the laws of a free nation. When did we stop listening to others?
I’ll make no apologies that I did not and would not vote for the man who has now been named our next president. His and his representatives’ words of hate fired toward minorities, women, non-Christians, LGTBQ community members and so many more, turned me off from whatever message he might have had about being different and draining the swamp. The fact that these were not occasional missiles fired to provoke his followers into action but a constant barrage that began much earlier this year, should not and cannot be glossed over by his promise of reconciliation.
I don’t understand the people who voted for him when they know that I and so many others including their own family are members of the disability community he felt necessary to mock, they have family members who are bi-racial, or those with grandchildren who have a parent from those other countries which we will now build a wall to protect ourselves from. Nor do I get it when I look at the fathers and mothers of adolescent girls and think it is ok to make a man who claims the privilege of being able to grope and belittle women, their president. I don’t understand how a candidate can select a running mate who not only wants to live out his own extreme evangelical religious beliefs, but has proclaimed that his religion is the one that must be the rule of our land. When we vote, not only is it our vote we cast for the present, but we are also doing it for the future of this country, and to have overlooked these flaws is a serious shortsightedness that cannot be corrected regardless of what lenses we might view this through.
I understand this country is hurting and struggling – we have trillions of debt to figure out mainly thanks to waging wars started over a decade ago that seem improbable to win against enemies that are constantly shifting their shape. We have a crisis at home with the people who have fled here from other countries, escaping conditions that few of us can imagine whether they come from war torn countries across the ocean or the poverty just south of us in Central and South America. Perhaps I don’t get angry when I think about these people wanting to be here because I deeply appreciate the good fortune and luck of having been born an American. Who can blame them for wanting to be a part of this country which proudly proclaims to the world our unique concept of liberty and has always welcomed the huddled masses.
I also recognize the genetic pool that had me come from my mother’s womb as a white person determines my life opportunities much differently than had one or both of my parents been a person of color. The argument that we all have the same opportunities is blatantly false, and is quickly proven with a few moments of research if you genuinely wish to know more and understand the inherent racism we live with. I was hoping we were making progress toward equality, but too many events over this past year or so show we are still so far from that goal we might not even be able to view the end zone.
Just because I am white does not mean that my way is the best way or the only way, but it appears the person who will have the most influence on our next president does believe that, as evidenced by his publications which support and allows white supremacist views to go unchallenged. I am sickened by the thought that the head of the KKK is applauding this appointment, but even more horrified that this is acceptable to the people who voted for this next president. If you exercised your vote to elect this man, you can also exercise your voice to say this is not what you thought you voted for and speak up now. Hold our next president accountable to a higher standard.
The White House on Pennsylvania Avenue has been good enough for everyone since president #2 and is equipped to handle all contingencies and is conveniently located to meet with members of the legislative bodies. Personally I would be delighted to live in the White House year round and I hope the next president chooses that as well because if he sticks with his idea to jet back and forth to his NYC penthouse, the gridlock on the streets and in the air in both cities will become unbearable and costly. All joking aside, it would probably be cheaper to remodel the White House and gild every throne in gold than have a president who has just a part-time residence in Washington DC. The tab for providing staff and security appropriate for the leader of the free world will rise each time he transfers locations and his campaign promise to reduce tax spending should start with his own living choices.
An acquaintance in the MS community is an award winning photographer of wildlife and spends hours in the bushes waiting for just the right shot of her beloved shore birds. Her work is stunning and beautiful, and requires inordinate amounts of patience, but the hatred toward the losing candidate that she continues to spew through her FB posts tarnishes all that she does and is what finally moved me to write this today, one week post-election. For whatever reason, she can’t turn off the public display and hasn’t even tried to tone down her words. Moving forward is impossible it we continue to hold onto the past as she continues to do. I’m hoping that whatever candidate you voted for, you will find a way to move forward to improve the snapshot of today and not indulge in hate. Our country deserves better. We deserve better for each other and especially for our children and our grandchildren.
Yes, I know this is a simplistic view but it is at least a start for me to try to wrap my head around all the contradictions of this election where people who I know are good people made a choice I strongly disagree with. I wish I could turn back the clock to a more innocent time of standing on the corner inviting people to vote for McGovern – maybe we could get it right if we had a second go at it.