This may not be my most well-crafted of blogs, and I apologize if I’m off my game. I’m currently in mourning for the state of our not-so-fair country. And I believe the first stage of grief is anger. And boy, am I.
This morning, like every morning, our school day began with the Pledge of Allegiance. But will there ever be liberty and justice for all — as our Pledge of Allegiance claims? There hasn’t been yet, and my fears are that we are simply “Making America Racist Again” – as if we ever left it behind in the first place…
I’ve never put so much of myself into an election. Ever. And now that it’s over, I’m a sore loser, metaphorically speaking. Today finds me bruised and battered and feeling broken. But feeling broken and being broken are not the same thing.
I feel like I’ve never had so much to lose in an election before. And those I love have never had so much to lose. And now that it’s over, I’m expected to be a gracious loser? Nope. Not happening.
I can accept the results of the election. I won’t be like Trump and throw “rigged” into the equation (although it’s flawed, that’s for damned sure), and I won’t demand a gazillion recounts. So, yes, I will accept the presidential results. But I will not accept the resulting racial and social intolerance that is sure to grow ever-stronger now that there’s a bigot at the helm. Something’s rotten in the state of the nation – and I will fight like hell against the injustice. I will make my voice heard – because that is one inalienable right all of us have been given. But right now, so many voices are muffled and muted and ignored. Right now, not all voices are truly heard.
The popular vote was won by Hillary, but (just like sixteen years ago) with the electoral college comes the spoils. And by spoils, I mean spoiled. As in, we are rank with injustice up in these parts. But I will rail against the machine. I will demand change. I will shout it to the rooftops until my voice, and ALL voices, are heard. Because, Good Lord willing (yes, I will pray for change, too) maybe in my lifetime, all voices will finally matter.
So whose voices don’t matter and whose voices do? Well, I’ll start with the man (woman, actually) in the mirror. Mine doesn’t matter. Nor, apparently, do millions of other women’s voices. Our votes meant nothing. And while I know we live in a democracy, where majority supposedly rules… majority does not rule. Money rules. And ignorance rules. Those two things rule.
How do I know? Because those were two of the primary motivating forces behind the majority of Trump votes.
Trump got the uneducated white man’s vote – big time. And with that vote came the uneducated white man’s wife. Middle-class, suburban, high-school-educated (or less), small-town, white folks voted for Trump.(Others, too. I know that. But I’m looking at demographics, here.) So those people have a voice. Their votes count. But then, white voices always matter, so no surprise there.
Trump also got the vote of the energy states: Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, North Dakota, Ohio, Louisiana, Arkansas, West Virginia… So Big Oil votes count. And so does Coal. And manufacturing states, too, like Wisconsin and Indiana and Iowa and Michigan — they went to Trump. So, in other words, money talks. It’s a voice that is heard… Money is really persuasive, really good at tempting souls toward damnation. It’s the root of all evil, if I recall correctly.
So let’s look at the other side. Who voted for Hillary, demographically speaking? Well, she got the minority vote, which ironically makes up the democratic majority these days: she got the African American vote; the LGBT vote; the Latino vote; the college-educated white female vote.
The common denominator, when you line all of these votes up in a pretty row, is that as the paradoxical minority majority, none of these voices were heard. But then, nothing new there. These groups are traditionally silenced. And while yes, I know that college-educated white women absolutely benefit from white privilege, and we often have a much stronger voice than the others in this list – we are also not treated the same as our white male counterparts. (i.e., the glass ceiling phenomena… the gender pay gap… the more qualified, better educated, more temperately-suited candidate did not get the presidency last night…)
As I ponder the pandemonium of our situation, I’m reminded of a favorite Dr. Seuss book: “Yertle the Turtle.” Like most of his books, it’s a satire about a megalomaniac who gains power and control over hopeful, obedient masses blinded by the glitter and promise of his reign. This book and the Trump campaign merge into one big cautionary tale to me. Yertle knows business. He knows money. He is successful and powerful. He can move and shake and control and corral. Wall Street is his mistress. She bends over at his command. And she puts out. So THIS is leadership. THIS is what the country needs. Therefore, millions voluntarily step up so the Turtle King can climb atop their backs and build his throne. And boy, do they come — “swimming by dozens… whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.” Surely, as he’s raking in the coin, as he’s building his wealth and his power and might, some of those riches will trickle down to help alleviate the drought at the bottom of the pond. But the only thing that trickles down that “great heavy stack” is pain and misery and the impending doom of cracked shells and broken hearts.
Why would these turtles have done such a thing? Why have WE done such a thing? I ask myself this continuously. The only answer I can come up with is that we have become an unbelievably materialistic society that believes implicitly in instant gratification. Not content with our recovering economy, our gradual, yet markedly-improved quality of life, we are driven by dreams of easy money. The American Dream has become a crude wet dream, and Trump is our golden boy. He’s all that glitters. He is the poster boy of reality television: selfish and prideful and controlling and manipulative, and he gets what he wants by stepping on the shells of those around him. And, apparently, American citizens believe that all of those qualities are perfectly okay. Why? Because he’s a star. He’s a razzle, dazzle, reality super star. And he’s turned reality television into the new reality. Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you, if you’re cruel at heart. You, too, can have whatever you want, as long as you’re willing to play dirty – to behave horribly, to degrade others, to threaten violence, to COMMIT violence, to assault women, to refuse to pay your fair share… Basically, as long as you’re willing to railroad anyone and everyone in your path to get there (a fitting metaphor, since I have heard “Trump Train!” at least a dozen times today in the halls of my blue-collar, white suburban, middle class high school campus), you can have it all. I am horrified and I am ashamed
Yes, America showed last night that it is far more concerned with its back pocket and its purse strings – than its humanity. And that is not okay with me.
And, yes, I am a bleeding-heart liberal. I admit it. Hell, I embrace it. My heart weeps and bleeds for those who are targeted and treated unfairly. I’ve been there, remember? I know what it means to not have a voice. And I’m right back there again. This time, with a voice I’m not afraid to use, but one that remains unheard. And there are so many of us in these United States who are in this sad situation.
So, as a bleeding-heart liberal, my heart weeps for my Muslim friends and students. To be despised because of your faith – to be racially and religiously profiled because of your love for God – it is reprehensible. I will fight with you for your voice to be heard.
My heart weeps for my gay and lesbian friends and family and students. To have your love judged, to have your personal happiness threatened by a resurgence of bigotry and blind dogma — it is unforgivable. I will fight with you for your voice to be heard.
My heart weeps for my black friends and my black students. To be held suspect – or ignored – or targeted — or unfairly tried — or injured — or killed, all because of the hoodie on your back, or the plaits in your hair, or the pigment in your skin… it is an absolute abomination. I will fight with you for your voice to be heard.
My heart bleeds for my fellow-females. To have our autonomy threatened, our merits and strengths and choices and progress potentially peeled away… it is inadmissible. I will fight for our voices to be heard.
My heart is bruised and bloody this morning, but my shell is not broken. Like Mack, Seuss’s “plain little turtle” at the bottom of the stack, I will not give up. I will not give in. My voice will be heard. I will hold strong and I will belch out the injustices, over and over and over. Until that xenophobic, racist, sexist throne topples. And all voices are finally heard.