When I found out the presidential election results this morning, I have to admit it was the first time in my life that I was embarrassed, ashamed and afraid to be an American citizen. Embarrassed that our country has gotten so polarized politically that someone without the qualifications, a reasonable plan for the future and has insulted most people, here and abroad, not only got on the ballot, but actually won the election. Embarrassed that the person who will be representing our nation and assuming the office of Commander-in-Chief is so volatile and seems to lack the simple ability to treat everyone with respect regardless of their background, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or any other “flavor of the day” that gets a reaction.
Ashamed of my fellow citizens that hate and fear trumped reason and love. Ashamed that the far right GOP obstructionism of the last eight years because our President happened to be black somehow translated into anything Democratic must be bad. Ashamed that our educational system has been so underfunded for so many years that sound, reasoned thought processes fell victim to paranoia and false, empty promises. Ashamed that the world has a front-row seat to all of this and is at worst, judging us harshly for it – at best, laughing at us.
Afraid that our president-elect will want to prove who is swinging a bigger stick and make rash, undoable, long-lasting disastrous decisions. Afraid that greed unchecked will result in a far-too-privatized government and oversight decisions made based on money – not public safety (think FDA, EPA, and, yes, FAA, etc.). Afraid that Social Security and Medicare won’t be there for our elderly and those who need it. Afraid that our country and our form of government will end up self-destructing as it moves towards an isolationist, elitist, racist, exclusionist mindset. Afraid that the upcoming Supreme Court appointments will send our country back into the dark ages.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not and probably never will be a Hillary Clinton fan. However, given the choice between someone with a plan that includes progress towards clean energy (addressing climate change and leaving a habitable planet for our descendants), increases in budgets for education and the like and at a minimum, the status quo for the rights of all individuals and not reducing them, a much better record of recognizing and encouraging labor unions or someone who wants to build walls to solve “problems” and treat some of our citizens as less than they deserve as citizens, the choice to me was clear. I can’t tell you how many times during this election season I was reminded of a quote from the movie “The American President” – “…is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only : Making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”
The Democratic party made a huge mistake nominating Hillary Clinton – partly because of her history, but also because of her sex. Yes, as a woman, I just said that. Knowing how the GOP worked so hard to obstruct President Obama at every turn and how fed up the American people were becoming with the perceived lack of progress, a female Democratic nominee was just too much change, too fast for many this close to a Democratic black President’s term. In my opinion, a female Republican nominee would have had a much better chance of putting a woman in the White House at this time. I hope that GOP obstructionism of the recent past will come into play to help mitigate the most devastating policies that may come out of the Oval Office after January 20, 2017.
I haven’t written on this blog for years. I retired and thought that it was up to the younger generation to carry the torch since they were still on the boards. So, truth is, I didn’t have much to say that I believed to be of interest to anyone outside my immediate circle. But seeing the results this morning, I found I had to say something because I can’t say some of this at home.
Why is that, you ask? I have middle-school children, one of whom is a very intelligent, high-functioning autistic and who is terrified we are now going to war and that because she is different and female, it will now be okay to treat her as less than she is. Our children have seen the political ads from both sides, various YouTube videos and now, my husband and I have the task of trying to allay those fears, some of which are legitimate given what they’ve seen and heard from sources generated from outside our home. We are now in the unenviable position of having to explain that though they’ve been taught since birth, at home and at school, that diversity is a good thing, being different and unique is a wonderful thing, treating others as you wish to be treated is one of the most important lessons they must learn, love of country is to be encouraged and respected and bullying is a bad thing that now someone that they’ve already seen act and speak contrary to all those teachings is slated to be our nation’s leader.
As parents, we are not in this position alone, I know. No parent wants their child to feel fear. Van Jones said it very well last night on CNN. And if you’re familiar with autism at all, you know that shades of gray in a situation, especially an abstract one, are extremely difficult for an autistic person to grasp.
I read that the Canadian immigration website went down last night due to the high volume of activity. I admit that I looked briefly at Cape Breton – they’re looking for people to move there. With my ATC experience, Australia would work, too. A part of me thinks it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
However, the stronger, more idealistic part of me believes that it would be the wrong thing to teach our children. We’ll take the hard road for awhile, attempting to teach our kids the difference between respecting the office and respecting the person. We’ll try to show our children how things can be scary and tough, but together we can weather the storm and find ways to improve the situation. We’ll keep teaching our children that love and respect and surrounding yourself and working with people who believe the same will ultimately win over hate and fear. We’ll keep hoping they won’t have to live the 1960’s here, but if we do, we’ll show them how to triumph over it again – our country did it once, we can do it again. We’ll work hard to help them understand that the pendulum swings, sometimes too hard, but it always swings back – you just have to work and wait for it.
And we’ll also teach them to give the president-elect a chance to prove he can step up to the plate and provide a good example for the American people, including its children, to live up to. We’ll teach them to have hope, even when it seems hopeless. I know what I believe is in the future for this country and my most fervent, sincerest hope is that president-elect Trump proves me wrong.