The 2016 Presidential Election

Photo Courtesy of the Joey Parlett Blog

I’m not sure what to add to the conversation right now that may be of any comfort or lead us into an area of courage. But I need to talk about it. There’s a lot of articles out there right now. Some are true, some are false. Somewhere in the middle is some kind of truth that perhaps we weren’t ready for as a country. We weren’t listening to one another. We couldn’t see areas that were hurting, and in response were willing to hurt others.

I’m sitting here watching The Lion King (VHS no less) and it’s impossible not to draw parallels to the current state of affairs. Most directly during Scar’s speech about his assumption of power. Quite unfortunately during that speech, actually, as it was modeled after Nazi propaganda. But there are other similarities- the decimation of the pride lands and the irony of the dissolution of resources from the promises of a braggadocio. A pack of zombied hyenas who cannot think for themselves. What one can only dream is an eventual rejection of a dictator. I can’t quite place Timon and Pumbaa’s role in this life metaphor but just give me some time. I think there’s a little Pumbaa in all of us, to be honest.

My friends and I projected the election results on the wall and watched as what we had hoped for slowly began to slip away from us. I haven’t asked a lot of friends if they voted for Trump. I can’t bring myself to yet, and perhaps that’s cowardly. I’ve never been in a situation where the nature of another person deciding to choose “politics” meant a hierarchy that placed my own well-being below other elements of “import.” While my understanding based on some post-election reading is that these decisions outwardly involved business, keeping resources from being parsed out too thinly across the population, and reestablishing international priorities between countries, to me these all remain secondary to the backbone of what’s important here. And that’s each other. No one wakes up and wants to participate in complicit racism. But sometimes that’s what happens in the name of outward issues of “politics.” When the rhetoric and practices used by Trump to gain momentum are those that pull from dark parts of the hearts of some Americans, feed on and manifest fears not all of us will understand, and are established as part of the rules of the game, what kind of game are we playing anymore? And then to accept that rhetoric in return for what will eventually be empty promises? I struggle a great deal with that. But make no mistake, my struggle as a white person has no comparison to the struggles of some of my fellow Americans right now who were the target of such dangerous dialogue.

And so this response of objection is not an issue of needing to be an adult. In fact I find those standing up in objection right now to be quite brave. To be quite aware. To be able to see from a distance that dissolution of resources, that potential for the “decimation of the land.” The tragic irony of course is that these same campaign promises, sprinkled with hate to attract certain arenas, will leave out in the cold the same people so forgotten already by the government they were seeking to flip. That element is heartbreaking. I do feel that we are in a new situation, and one where there is a part of the nation that perhaps did not want to participate in racism by complacency but was left seemingly with their only other option being left behind again by a government and a media bias that kept telling them their vote wasn’t worth anything. That they weren’t worth anything. And that is very hard. It is very hard. To put the population of this country in an almost survivalist mentality, from different angles, on both sides.

But to create in the population the mentality that there is no choice that supports both of us is a divide that is cultivated through years of misunderstanding the very people that members of our government are supposed to be representing. We can’t forget our farmers anymore than we can forget the victims of inner city violence. Because the two are related. And when we set up a platform that creates on one side an air of distrust and on the other an air of fear, that is a recipe for divide and a recipe for disaster. In its own unique way, that is the silver lining that has come out of this election- the bandaid holding the gaping wound closed has been ripped off.

It’s time to admit that wound is there and form some plan of healing. And don’t look up to do it, look to your neighbor.

Look in the mirror.

I don’t think I need to spout statistics here, we all watched the campaign- often brutal, often misleading. The important thing right now is not to hate your neighbor, and not to fall apart. There are things at work right now in Washington that no matter what side of the coin you were on, will hurt you. They will hurt me. And so while I understand some initial responses to protests and objections were that they were juvenile acts, or an overreaction or objection to democracy, I can assure you that’s not true. There are human rights issues rolling out day by day as Trump places in high positions those who are neither qualified nor caring enough to manage them- in blunt words, higher-ups who sang his praise in some way during his campaign. We’re approaching a crossroads where we’ll need to stand up for each other, acknowledging that both sides of this election and many elements of its coverage and our own representation in the media have let us down. We need to look at each other and try harder to understand the injustices different populations of our country face, what they need to be treated with respect as people and what we can do to help one another.

And in the meantime, fight like hell.

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