Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Ugly Face of This Election

Two sides.

Good and bad.

Kind and cruel.

Forgiving and unforgiving.

Flexible and Rigid.

This is who we are right now. I feel it. I feel it in my mood, in my sleep patterns, in my driving and in my patience.

And I’m just a fortunate suburban woman living in the Midwest. Fortunate indeed; I won’t use the word “privileged”. To do so could evoke wrath, more anger, seething anger from those who have always had the entire cookie, not just a portion of it. The entire cookie for decades with pieces of the other half being doled out in bits, here and there, with messages of “now shut up finally, you are getting the rest of your cookie just like the rest of us, ‘mkay?”

If I’m feeling it, permeate into my psyche, how must it feel to be closer? To be right in the thick of it?

It’s the arguments that are getting to me. The stereotypes.

“ALL lives matter” being blasted on Facebook in whiny, petulant typing voices.

Ignorant memes bandied about with the responsibility of Michael Jackson dangling his baby over a balcony, tossing out numbers as if they are, dare I say it, black and white. Numbers are as subjective as opinions if they aren’t tenderly cared for, looked at through multiple magnifying lenses.

And a tinder box of emotions, exploding around us, ignoring history, poverty, racism, media manipulation and a system of law enforcement that has somehow, along the way, failed in screening a percentage of its own; failed in exploiting the greatest weapon they have at their disposal. A weapon that the most heroic of them have mastered beautifully: their voices.

All of this going on in the midst of a political cesspool, nationally and within my own state.

A major national party candidate who spews bigotry, ugliness, brash statements that sound irresponsible at times and downright unhinged at others. And his support base are the same voters who have bought the narrative carefully meted out to them over the past three decades that they need to fear; fear anything government related, fear anything with even the vile taint of “liberalness” to it, fear anything “other” or “different”.

A Kansas legislature that opportunistically took advantage of this same message of fear to turn what was once a sane and cooperative state government of two parties that created one of the greatest education bases in the country into a state falling apart, literally, in front of the nation. A Kansas Republican Party hell bent on ignoring financial “numbers”, hopeful, in fact, that the demolition continues so that they can usher in a new era of Christian Law and the destruction of all government services that have helped define our Democracy, our moral compass as it relates to citizens and our connections and value of each other.

So I’m tired today. And I think many of you are as well.

But I’m involved. And that is helping, enormously.

I’m fairly certain I’ve been “unfollowed” on Facebook by probably the same number of people that I have unfollowed. I do not mind differing policy opinions but will not abide outright lies and I cannot, will not, quit talking about this election because it is right in front of our faces, less than 50 short days from now.

An election that will determine the future of my state. An election that will send a final message to the rest of the world about us as a Nation and what we really, truly stand for. An election that could potentially give a man who questions why we do not use atomic weapons against our enemies access to our nuclear codes.

As the world watches, Donald Trump continues to fuel discord.

He speaks to a crowd of white people and claims that American blacks are poor, uneducated and live in war zones worse than places in the rest of the world. He spits out ugliness while crowds cheer loudly.

Trump bestows childlike nicknames on every opponent who crosses his path while using short sentences no more intellectual than as if taken from a 4th grade play ground.

He has attacked Muslims, Hispanics, Women, & African Americans while using terms like “disgusting”, “pig”, and “stupid” to describe people who disagree with him. He has openly mocked a physically disabled reporter. He re-tweets statements from white supremacist groups and, per their own statements, has given them a mouthpiece and a leader they finally feel understands them and represents their values.

And yet, just these past few weeks the jaw dropping hits keep coming because I see all of this played out right in my own community.

A “privileged” college educated woman I know posts a right wing conspiracy list of alleged murders committed by the Clintons. Her response, when told this is a conspiracy with no basis in fact, was that it hasn’t been UNproven.

A close friend, family man with a huge & generous heart, spews “I’ll never vote for that lying bitch”. The barely concealed viciousness was somewhat surprising within our conversation.

A house in Roeland Park proudly displayed yard signs, two of which included the words “balls” and “bitch”.

Trump supporters sport tee shirts at rallies emblazoned with the words “Trump that bitch!”

Those same supporters lament today’s world, where they are quickly losing their status as the ruling class, begging for a “return” to America’s glory days.

And the always reliable Facebook is a sure fire way to remember that Donald Trump has given permission to peel back the layers. Layers which have, at least for some time, kept a soft protective covering over the black hearted ugly that so many in this country have kept quietly hidden, as if waiting for the right person and right time to come along and give them permission to say what they really believe; what they really feel.

After all, isn’t that why they say they like Donald Trump?

So yes, Facebook has opened the floodgates.

A few weeks ago a black friend of mine read this on the page of someone she knows in response to an NFL player choosing to sit through the national anthem as a way to protest silently the string of black deaths in this country at the hands of police officers.

“Let me tell you something niggie, if you don’t stand your ugly black ass up I’ll put my size 11 work boot up your chicken shit ass boy and my redneck side of me will spread your ass cheeks boy George looking pussy your going to get fuck up niggie! !!!”

She held the Facebook page host responsible for not calling out the post. For not taking a stand. So the host finally deleted the message and, when a barrage of rebukes occurred, he posted a statement renouncing racism on his wall.

It took eight hours and a link to his business for him to do this. This wasn’t a comment by an anonymous poster under an online article. This was written by a man who lives in Overland Park. You may even know him.

I didn’t expect this in my community. I honestly didn’t. But if it is here then how badly must it be in other places? What in the name of all that is good and tolerant in this country has the Republican Party unleashed on America? And why, I keep asking myself, are most of their leaders silently letting it continue?

My children are watching. And your children are watching.

So I will not quit talking about November 8, 2016.

I will keep volunteering for local candidates and for Hillary Clinton.

I will not look back on this time and ask myself “what more could I have done.”

And I will not stop asking the rest of you to do something, anything, to be a part of the one thing which makes our nation a Democracy: free elections.

Whether you step outside of your comfort zone and actively get involved by attending a meeting, canvassing or phone banking; donating money; discussing issues with friends and family or, simply pledging to double check information from reputable news sources and put aside personal bias in order to be the most responsible and informed voter you can be, I’m writing this to ask you to do something, anything.

Just be engaged as these races wind down. Take your citizenship seriously and with utmost gratitude.

And for those of you who have been and continue to be a part of the process? Take care of yourselves and get space when you can. The emotion and ugliness of this election is unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Take care of yourselves but don’t give up and don’t slow down.

Out state, our country and our children need you now, more than ever.

Addendum:

For my friends whose amazingly beautiful black children venture out into the world, I share this painful video. Get home safely. We love each of you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqJ-psD9vJw&feature=youtu.be