Friday, November 11, 2016

Fear And Loathing In America

Just over 150 years ago, our country fought a civil war in which, figuratively, half of the country believed that all men were created equal, and the other half did not. Comparatively, the results of the recent election were clear: half the country voted in favor of bigotry and racism, and the other half did not.  One hundred fifty years ago, our country lost about 620,000 citizens in that war, and countless thousands since have lost their lives in the pursuit of the words Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
And this is, perhaps, what has bothered me the most about this election.  I had no idea I lived in a country where, despite all our social programs, activism, awareness, and laws, we are still a country of divisive hate and fear; where the citizens of a country founded on the principles of religious freedom continue to spew hatred at people who observe different religions; a country where the words nigger and faggot are used as easily today as they were 60 years ago; a country where the Ku Klux Klan can endorse a presidential candidate who goes on to win the election.

 And to say I am disappointed by all of this is putting it mildly.

Since Tuesday night, it has been far from "business as usual" for me.  I've tried to not watch the news and have attempted to stay off of Facebook for a while in order to clear my head.  As Tuesday evening went on, I could feel the growing tension as my personal bubble burst all around me.  It was like waking from a nap and looking at a clock that reads 7:00 but you don't know if it's 7AM or 7PM.  That state of confusion has been my constant for the past several days.  It's like I don't know where I am or even what day it is.  On Wednesday in my office at work, I was suddenly so overcome with emotion that I cried.  For the first time in my life, I wept for my country.

I wept for the children who now think it is acceptable to hate people based on their private beliefs or the color of their skin.

I wept for the teen boys who will believe it's perfectly acceptable to sexually molest or assault a girl, or each other.

I wept for all the women who will die attempting to self-abort an unwanted or risky pregnancy.

I wept for people who will lose access to social programs - canceled because the deficit will grow too high.

I wept for the fact that the New Colossus on the Statue of Liberty really means absolutely nothing to many Americans.

I wept for all the Ringling Brothers that will come with this Barnum in the forms of a spite-ridden Christie, a hate-mongering Giuliani, and a despicable Gingrich, to name a few.

I wept for the fact that we have sullied the reputation of the presidency by putting a man who espouses bigotry, hated and misogyny in The White House; a man whose name will now be forever linked to names like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt; a man who will be so mired down in his own personal lawsuits (sexual impropriety, fraud, Trump University, for raping a childamong others) that he won't have the time to properly prepare for his next role.

And by "role", I mean I honestly think he doesn't even want to be president, he just wanted to win the election.  Mark my words here, I give him two years (and that's being generous) until something happens.  He's going to find out how in-over-his-head he is.  He will either be impeached or resign.  And then Mike Pence, who by all accounts is no better of a human being, will assume the Presidency.  Trump will walk away, just as he has from all of his previous business ventures.

When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, then re-elected in 2004 - sure, I was annoyed.  But I wasn't afraid like I am today.  I am actually afraid today.  I fear my non-white friends will be treated unfairly and will be hurt in some way.  I fear that my job in cultural exchange will end because the new administration will make it impossible for foreigners to come to the country.  I fear that people will die because they no longer have access to medicine and healthcare.  I fear our allies will turn their backs on us because of our choices.  I fear that we will alienate ourselves from the rest of the world.  And I have the very real fear my country could revoke my marriage and tell me that I am no longer allowed to be married to the person I love, or that my marriage doesn't "mean the same" as a "traditional marriage".  I fear that my rights as a citizen will once again be stripped from me by my own legislators.

Even if just 1 of these fears is realized, it's 1 fear too many.  For the past few days, I've wanted to post my feelings but didn't want anyone who read them to pass them off as those of a sore loser.  Because my personal senses of disappointment and loss are minor compared to the loss my country will face for what could be generations to come. Absent hyperbole, this was an election that will ruin people's lives, tear apart families, and put the health of millions of people at risk either through denied healthcare or family planning.  And why?  Because somehow, white men feel disenfranchised in a country in which they have had complete control for more than 500 years.  They've allowed the fear of what they don't know to cloud their judgment.  And they've allowed a carnival barker to prey on and exploit those fears to his own advantage.

I wish I was wrong.  I hope that I am.  But why should I be?  With all the great leadership we've had in this country for the past 150 years, why should I expect a man with the divisive morals of a maggot to now be able to lead us to a better place?