Today is Here…and I Am Afraid
Today’s the election, and I am afraid.
What will I wake up to in the morning? Will there be protesting in the streets? Will there be charges of corruption? Will there be recounts? Will there be armed militia in the streets? Will there be voter fraud — not among voters, but among the states who control the election processes?
Growing up, elections seemed so civilized and certainly didn’t last for two years. If your candidate didn’t win, you believed there would be compromise all around. We still looked to our politicians to be true civil servants, those who went into politics to serve the people.
My first election was in 1968 — and I voted for Nixon, as I was concerned that Humphrey would escalate the Vietnam War. Because I had a scholarship from the state of New York, and my parents had moved out of state, I had to establish my own residence in New York. I went to register, and since I didn’t have my high school diploma with me — and I couldn’t prove I attended college — I had to take a literacy test. I was appalled and embarrassed. So this is what it was like in the South if you were black and trying to register…only much, much worse. I was a white female, and ultimately I knew I would be able to vote. But it gave me a chance to walk a few steps in someone else’s shoes.
Nixon won and the war escalated in Vietnam. There were protests over the war, generational problems between parents and their hippy children, but nothing like the discord, incivility, and hatred we are seeing now. Kent State in 1970 (48 years ago — will we remember it in 2020?) shocked the country when young people were gunned down by our National Guard. What will happen with the build-up on our southern border?
Ford, Carter, Reagan, Papa Bush, Clinton, Bush, Jr, Obama, and then 45. We disagreed with many, many issues, but we weren’t divided like now. I first noticed a difference in the treatment of the office of president in the Clinton administration. Almost from the beginning, the press was constantly harping and criticizing the man in the Oval Office. Granted, there were times the press was doing its job, but dark money began to rear its head. With Baby Bush, we counted on major newspapers to present the good, the bad, and the ugly, and there was plenty of that. This was becoming a very corrupt administration. September 11 let the executive branch begin its not-futile attempts to move down the road to centralized power.
Obama faced incredible scrutiny by the Republicans, because by his inauguration it was obvious that there was a segment of the population that was out for him. McConnell was forthright in saying that his proudest moment was ensuring that all Republicans would refuse to cooperate with the administration. I don’t agree with everything Obama did in eight years, just like with Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. But the wave of nastiness and vitriol just kept coming for a man who took over a serious time for the United States, trying to recover from the Great Recession.
So how is it that the party now in power isn’t gloating but making everything flammable.
- There is no compromise.
- There is no civility.
- There is no compassion.
The idea of a social contract that governs a society that cares for all citizens is no longer in play. It’s every rich person for him or herself, and screw the rest of us marginalized folks. Capitalism is king. He who dies with the most money WINS.
I’m a white female, past child-bearing, disabled, collecting Social Security and using Medicare — plus paying a huge amount each month for a supplemental policy. Last month we were rationing Tylenol — money was that tight. And yet — I know I have it better than millions around the world. I have clean water, I have food, I have a safe place to live. But even progressive Vermont won’t be completely safe if the election results go south (forgive the pun).
Long-term policies of 45’s administration mean
- income slows or becomes non-existent;
- tariffs cost the few things we buy to be more expensive;
- we become even more dangerous fools to the rest of the world;
- lack of health care will lead many of us to die prematurely;
- civil liberties are more fragile;
- but most of all, anyone who isn’t white, evangelical, and male needs to fear for themselves.
So yes, I am scared to wake up tomorrow and see what is in store for us as a country. I voted, I talked to friends I know who haven’t voted in the past to say not voting was an unacceptable decision. I’m writing about changing the study of history by developing needed critical thinking skills as my way of perhaps finding a few folks who would like to experiment with some new ways of educating folks about what has come before us, and where this new road is leading us.
There are two major historical anniversaries this week: The evening of November 9–10 is the 80th anniversary of the mass destruction of Jewish synagogues in Germany and Austria, which brought the past five years of German restrictions on their Jewish population to a head. Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass — how many of you have heard of it? Over 250 synagogues were destroyed, and thirty thousand people were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and we know — if we remember anything of our history — that the worst was yet to come.
The second anniversary is November 11th — the 100th year of the end of World War 1. England had huge remembrances in 1914 on the 100th anniversary of the start of the war. I don’t recall us doing anything even remotely close.
The Versailles Treaty started 20 years of preparation that led to World War 2. For the next 20 years we should be revisiting and studying the major events that will have happened 80 years ago:
The League of Nations
Stalin in Russia
The Great Depression
Japan invades Manchuria
The Rape of Nanjing
Hitler becomes Chancellor
The Rise of Mussolini
The Spanish Civil War
The Invasion of Poland
Yes, I am scared to wake up tomorrow. We are not perfect — far from it — as a nation, but there is inherent good in all of us — as well as evil. Maybe tomorrow will be the start of a blue wave. If it is, great — now the party in power needs to learn how to govern to accomplish what the people of this country need. If it isn’t — I’m not sure what will happen.