The Audacity of Hope for the New Year
It has taken me thirteen months to write another blog post about the politics going on in our country. Perhaps its taken me that long to digest. The election from last year and the Trump craziness of 2017 has me disappointed and truly worried about our government, our future and what our children will be left with. Our government has turned into reality TV. We get on our daughters about watching the Kardasians. I am guilty of being hooked on Jake Tapper and Rachel Maddow. I am seeking therapy.
As much as I was never a fan of George Bush or John McCain or Mitt Romney or generally any Republicans, I did believe they were all in it to help the country, to help people. What I can’t get past is that Trump is not in it for the people. He is in it to feed his own ego, his own interests. He is in it for himself. Period.
I am disappointed that this election has not substantively addressed how to lift up the average American. The pace of change in the world has left many behind. I am strongly in favor of technology and globalism. We can’t pull back and we can’t socialize everything. We have to believe that there are smart people in the world who can conceive of and execute on meaningful change.
The change in policies/programs/taxes/regulations are one thing. You can be for them or against them. The bad ideas can be reversed with the next elections. But the bigger issue is the pronounced decline in civility, partnership, cooperation, equity and feeling of “we are all in this together”. That may take a lifetime to rebuild.
While Barack Obama didn’t fulfill all of my expectations, he did lead this country through some difficult times in eight years. He made the tough decisions, he wasn’t in it for himself. I remember November 2008. I remember his speech in Grant Park in Chicago, talking about “Yes We Can”. We were in the midst of an economic meltdown that would take years to recover, but there was hope. I was hopeful.
I didn’t believe that having our first black President would eradicate racism in this country during my lifetime. I did believe however that it was possible that with continued progress, the idea of white supremacy could be defeated. How wrong could I be. There is a belief that the resurgence of white supremacy began with Donald Trump’s campaign. That is wrong. The resurgence began the day Barrack Obama was elected, a mass reaction to the election of our first black President. Now, with Trump, this resurgence has been legitamized.
My mother taught in an inner city high school where the large majority of students were underpriviledged. My father’s job was to help people coming out of adult education programs get a job. My sisters and I were lucky to go to college, build families and live productive and happy lives . But the memory of the people my parents worked to help and the keen awareness that there are so many people in this country that struggle has stayed with me. My Mom was and still is an active participant. She organized anti-apartheid meetings in the 1980’s. She drove those who couldn’t drive themselves to the voting booths last November. Some big steps, some small steps. Imagine if the 100’s of millions of us out there all took small steps.
During this holiday season, a year later, we all talk and complain about how this country is doomed. We watch the news and hear about new crazy shit every day. But, our watching and our complaining doesn’t do much to change this. Change requires action, even if in small steps. I am going to try to find a few small ways that I can help in 2018. All it takes it a little bit of effort, a little action by all of us. Barack Obama, when he said “Yes We Can”, was not asking us to sit back and watch him and other in power change things. He was asking everyone to play a role. When he said “Yes We Can”, he meant “We”.