America, such as it is, remains the greatest country on the planet, if for no other reason than the potential we have embedded in our constitution and founding principals. But what does that really mean? Does it mean that those who recollect a time when what they experienced was pleasing, and so hanker for those times again? Does that mean that America must return to the past to make this country 'great' again? If we do, I most certainly will not stand by while our darkest characteristics are hailed as 'great'. So let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? It is time to address our fears, both those who fear the continuation of a Trump or Clinton administration, and those who long to be reunited with their once reigning and unchallenged privilege.
I begin with a man who sat next to me at the V.A. administration in Iowa one month ago. He was pleasant and composed until a random offering from one of the many waiting in the Pharmacy counselling waiting room, made a comment about the candidates. We kept our exchanges between each other, but he was not slow to bring it to his support for Trump. He shared that he was a small business man. His first observation went exactly where I knew it would go. He stated, "You must be voting for Hilary". I am a woman. That is the only comparison to be made and I informed him that I was not interested in a woman in the white house as 'token'. I smiled. I have greater expectations than that. I want a smart, diplomatic, and FAIR woman in the white house. I told him, she is like those female medical students so long ago who came out of that male dominated training ground just as male as their classmates. It was called 'adapting', and they did it. He seemed pleased with my contribution and so ventured further into his ideas.
He said the magic word that gets a lot of mileage in Iowa, and probably many other 'farm' states in our union. He said he 'likes' Trump's immigration position. My next logical question was what that policy looked like, I mean, besides the wall. He went silent. He did not actually know what the candidates policy was. I used the pregnant pause to share with him my opinion on what Iowa farmers might experience if all the low wage immigrants went away. He remained silent. Unlike the media supporters called 'reporters' who taut the name like a brand and not a candidate, he didn't seem to come armed with anything relevant. This speaks volumes, not about the man's character, because he looked and sounded like a nice enough fellow, but in the way of that American principal I mentioned, it was no surprise that he landed in the camp of "I am no longer interested in watching my privilege evaporate". He wanted his 'greatness' back. I thanked him for talking with me when I left, and he looked stunned, as if because we have different ideas we had to part adversaries. I chuckled.
Three years ago the topic of interest and concern around out dinner table was the ever increasing divide and the baiting that we all noticed on our internet travels. Even a member of our family has 'gone over' so to speak to the land of 'reverse racism'. NO amount of discussion has altered his embedded relationship with that 'greatness' he misses. We've tried to draw him away from the edge of perverse but he dug in and called one of my children a 'white nigger' on a social website he knows I do not frequent. We've sadly reduced out interactions with him to only those times when we can not avoid it. He behaves as if he never said it when we have to be together. The divide has an ever pressing involvement in our personal lives, it comes in uninvited in most subtle ways, so when we have a candidate that has designed use of that, it is more than concerning. It is an offensive act to bring us all into the rhelm of his (or her) own views regardless of those 'principals' I mentioned earlier. I must add here that I will not talk down to my reader. You must figure this out. Making our minds up requires us to first do the work of understanding others, based on those 'said' principals.
Just prior to that event I recall a national moment when a group of folk stood up and occupied some space to get their messages across, speak their minds, and the resulting response from 'our government'. Occupy has occupied my mind as the ramp up to this election includes silencing and vilifying one of the candidates, who it is reported, received only negative headlines in a period of time leading up to the party debate scheduled on a sunday (by the 'leader' of that party). I recall the many and varied members of communities all across this nation who received that same treatment as they made their issues known. I recall the way all of the candidates save the one, who bellied up to that bar to still the discontent, and rationalize the authorities mistreatment of children, the use of pepper spray on the elderly, and call the rest rabble.
Did the activities of responding to Occupy actually provide a training ground for silencing the voices that challenge our 'greatness'? Is this the backlash for some of the critical thinking that rose with the views of those who stepped into the line of fire during occupy? Has the Donald known all along that what came out of occupy for those at the top of this heap? Was it a perverse and despicable identification of the continuing threat when we pursue equality in this experiment called America?
Before Occupy the responsibility of those who have been given much, was neglected. That neglect showed itself in the form of housing bubbles, privatization of services, the creeping move of healthcare as a right to care into the land of profit, the gash in our budgets to put fuel in our engines, the ever closing door to the halls of education, and most importantly the way we became renters to our bank accounts. The permissions put in place forcing us to ask for access to our money, the fees rising to use our money, and the denial of access to the community who could least afford this new approach to money 'management' or theft as I like to call it. Discrimination became another rite of passage for landlords who happened to own housing all around campuses. The lords began to raise the rent without mercy. Large families were hit hardest, and those who now needed to house their families beyond the age of independence. Children couldn't afford to move out, and the private nursing homes were unable to adequately care for our grandparents and parents given the slicing of staff to make more money. LIfe was once again great for the few, and miserable for the masses.
America was never meant to revert to the machinations that brought so many to her borders. Americans have been dying for the principals so blithely thrown aside by candidates who have learned corporate culture and compromise, because they have lost little and so do not know what we know. It may be time to look at the things we yearn for when we watch the images provided by the wealthy on the boxes in our homes. It may be time to address the fears we experience when we fall victim to the noise coming from those boxes which is choreographed to frighten us one moment, and in the next listen as we are told how brave and unified we are when they most need us to 'go along' with their vision of our greatness.
Need we be reminded of the people, Americans, who were used and throw aside when their usefullness may have required they too benefit from the labor taken from them to make this greatness that candidates speak of?
We were never 'great'. We have neglected to pay attention to the development of that greatness in the form of our principals. Bringing those principals to life has been the reason so many have died, and not just on a battle field in some foreign neighbours yard, but right here in our own home, America. Thinking about who we are and how we got here and where we go is a difficult and pressing activity that has not always been fairly, intentionally. Making it more difficult has its purpose, and identifying the intentions of those who work to make it more difficult is the easy part.The way of opportunity is one of the issues in this country that was still a work in progress, it worked for some and not for others. It worked really well for those who could pay to make it work better for them. Privilege can not let go of what it becomes accustomed to. History has shown us that much, all we have to do is look.
Building this country has always been our best trait, and the voices that lure you into the memories as if they are proof of our principals is a lie, a very planned, organized and well executed lie. The America that began based on some pretty good ideas is still what we think about when we consider what we want for the baby we held or hold in our arms as our next best contribution. Our children are returning to that one time phrase that looks more and more appealing as our nation feels more and more like every other nation controlled by leaders who view the American constitution as flawed, that phrase, "Live and Let Live" is a deep and varied statement of the kind of freedom we honored, paid life and limb for. Don't waste it.