What a week for this country. Seemingly everyone surprised by the election result and scrambling through many emotions to determine what Tuesday’s vote really means for our families, friends, and neighbors today and in the near future. I’ve been trying all week not to not lose my basic faith in the common decency of people and in their basic sense of right and wrong. And I’ve been clinging to the belief that the people who elected Trump do have a sense of decency and know that many of the things Trump said during the campaign are just plain insulting and wrong, but they were willing to set that aside in the hopes he could deliver on some seemingly empty promises to bring jobs back and shake things up in Washington and fix whatever other problems they are facing. So I was thinking this vote for Trump was primarily anti-Washington, anti-status quo. But I don’t want to ignore what might be a very real and dangerous component of Trump’s support — those who really do want to “make America great again” by expelling illegal immigrants, banning immigration from countries deemed unfriendly, marginalizing people based on gender or other differences, and sealing up one of our borders.
I am hopeful there are more people who voted for Trump for the first reason than the latter fear/intolerance motivated reasons. But it will be more important than ever now to monitor, call out and counteract whatever (hopefully) small group of Americans feel empowered by this election to devalue and mistreat others. I think we’ve made a lot of progress as a free and diverse society — but that progress and the peace always seems a bit too fragile. And unfortunately our politics seem to be following a pendulum’s pattern, swinging more liberal for a few years and then back to more conservative, with the forward steps just barely outnumbering the backwards ones, perhaps.
But I think this feels different than the shift from Reagan to Clinton and from Clinton to W Bush and then from Bush to Obama. It’s different because of how coarse and low the political discourse went during this election, thanks largely to the president-elect. I don’t have to list out the things he said — it’s been done countless times already and everybody knows he said stupid, insulting and really unforgivable things, but it apparently didn’t really matter. People are so fed up with politics as usual that they like the fact that he sounds nothing like a politician. I got the sense people were just entertained by these crazy comments — he’s an entertainer (seemingly more than a decent businessman) — but we have to keep in mind there are likely some morally-challenged Americans that might take his comments to heart. And how he and his handlers and supporters don’t realize this danger is beyond me.
Anyway, this week is definitely shaking me and Karen awake, with a desire to do more in our community and politically to hold elected officials to a higher standard and to ensure that leaders and fellow community members hear and value the contributions of all citizens.
All that said, I do think it’s too early to be in the streets protesting the Trump presidency. And I’m not sure the timing is right to be protesting his campaign rhetoric. Enough Americans voted for Trump to elect him president and we can now pay close attention to what he actually attempts once in office. I’m certainly not against the idea of taking a fresh approach to governing in Washington, because the current level of partisanship, the moneyed interests, and possibly some of the bureaucracy has just about ground things to a standstill. Trump has given us VERY little indication that he’s the person to fix this… but he has managed to surprise us all in his brief political career a couple of times already.
It’s the shortest of leashes though. I am pretty fearful the next “surprise” Trump has for us will be something antithetical to our democratic values… and if that’s the case we can become more engaged citizens, making sure voices of tolerance and compassion carry all the way to Washington and beyond. I feel like we’re on the verge of the biggest setback in our country since declaring an unnecessary war in Iraq, or perhaps the speculation-fueled housing market crash. We have a major issue to address in the lack of education for jobs in the modern economy. The old economy with high-paying manufacturing jobs isn’t coming back… that’s not how capitalism works and Republicans should know that. But people don’t want to go back to school (and can’t afford to)… their only choice is to elect a snake oil salesman.
I am deeply sighing. It’s late, the kitchen clock is ticking. Oh, and Leonard Cohen died this week. Hashtag Thanks Trump. Can we start blaming Trump instead of Obama now for things? Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows” is playing in my head… was that Pump up the Volume with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder that had that song on its soundtrack? I think I want to record a version without the ’80s sounding bass and keyboards… you know, completely ruin a classic. The local band is going well — here’s a link to our FB page with some recent recordings linked on it: https://www.facebook.com/2ndprecinctjugband/
Anyway, hope you are doing well wherever you are and I hope you are feeling safe after this election. I have to believe there are many more of us who value diversity, free speech, equality and human rights than those who wish to curtail those in any way, shape or form. We just have to remember to be vocal and proactive in asserting our support for those things. Suddenly, unfortunately, it seems like these values can’t be taken for granted or assumed. Leonard, take us out:
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died
Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long-stem rose