Donald Trump Will Put Soda In Water Fountains
In fifth grade I ran for class president because initially “Vote for me, Michaela P” was enough foundation for a campaign. After making the best sign in the race, I thought about why I wanted to run. There were some issues at school I thought I could address. Why we ran out of white paper by January every year and by June our times tables were printed on half sheets of goldenrod? How was square pizza a healthy option for hot lunch? And, the largely contended topic, why the length of recess was only twenty minutes?
The incumbent running for reelection had a lot of supporters. He wore baseball hats to school even though they weren’t allowed during class time. His birthday was a school-wide holiday I’m not convinced isn’t still celebrated. He said he would make a huge increase to how long recess was — an hour, maybe two hours, ALL DAY RECESS. His greatest surge in the polls, though, came when he promised soda in the water fountains.
Soda in the water fountains. Soda. The previous year my arch-nemesis told me she spit chocolate milk into a water fountain (the water fountain she claimed was in her bedroom in her very normal house that I had seen at her birthday party) and a few days later when she went to get a drink, chocolate milk came out the spigot. I didn’t understand outer space and long division was proving to be a real piece of shit, but I knew that that is not how water fountains work. If this were true, each sip from a water fountain at Racebrook Elementary would be roughly 60% spit. And so, when it was revealed that if Alex were reelected as class president, he would change water fountains to soda fountains, I tried to dig into how problematic this would be. They didn’t hear me when I said that’s not how plumbing works. They didn’t care that a class president could barely decide what day of the week Field Day fell on, never mind the presumed ability to overhaul the schools pipes and reroute them to a well of root beer buried out back by the kick ball field. They didn’t want to hear it. When I asked how he was going to get soda in the water fountains he yelled, “If I’m elected, we’re going to get soda in the water fountains!” And they cheered. And that was that.
I lost the election that year. Alex won. Soda was not put in the water fountains. We were using lilac colored paper by October. The Pancake Breakfast was on a Sunday and nobody went. The school store was consistently out of ‘sticky-alien-hands” and nobody knew what to do about it. I began resenting Hillary Clinton as I feared she would become the first woman president before I would.
As I got older, I went into the arts (as that requires much less schmoozing). Though I realized I didn’t want anything to do with politics, nothing really changed — in me or politics themselves. I still wanted people to address issues. I still wanted my voice to be heard. I still wanted what was, perhaps objectively, the best for the most amount of people. I think those outside of politics refer to this as the greater good, but those in politics refer to this as crowd pandering. Because it’s not about who will actually do the most good as a president. It’s about Donald Trump realizing if he yells, people will listen. It’s not about how toxic his campaign is or how his support grows with every malignant comment he makes. When the KKK is backing the same presidential candidate as Republicans at large, we need to question everything. Trump’s campaign is bolstered by every bigot who thinks he’s finally being heard. But the sad truth is, he is being heard. Ignorance and xenophobia and name-calling are the foundation upon which Trump is building his platform. And we can’t make him stay in for recess when he picks on everybody and everything. What we can do is stop encouraging him…but we’re not.
Donald Trump says he’ll build a wall. Everybody cheers. Oh, you hate that person? I can hate them louder. Nobody cares about the why or the deep-rooted wrong. Donald Trump says he’ll put soda in the water fountains. Everybody cheers. We aren’t arguing that we need water and soda just isn’t fucking good for you. Nobody brings up that time he locked himself in the teacher’s coat closet and we all just kept on making Mother’s Day cards.
Donald Trump doesn’t know how to run a country any more than Alex thought he knew how to run a school. You can’t just have recess all day. That’s not how this works, not how any of this works. Trump doesn’t understand how to get things done. Saying you’re going to be great means nothing without an actual plan to back up the assertion. There is no why or how. It’s all insubstantial. And, by the looks of it, with Trump as president America will be anything but great.
This is why this election is so frustrating for me — we’ve done this. We’ve all done this. We’ve all been subject to student council races; somebody is promising all day recess, and no more homework, and you know they’re a bully who thrives on hate, but what does your vote even matter? It matters. If not numerically, emotionally. Because this all just snowballs. When I was a kid I wanted to be the first lady president because I saw presidency as a position that could incite change, have a voice, and be a respected and revered human. With Trump’s campaign continuously gaining steam, chugging along with the locomotion of various hell fires, we’re setting ourselves up for nothing but failure. Discrimination, misogyny, hate, and overall yelling cannot and should not put soda in water fountains.
I learned a lot in elementary school. If you bring seafood sandwiches to lunch, nobody will trade with you. If you’re not focused and driven, somebody will get to the computer before you during indoor recess and you can kiss goodbye Zoombinis. Word problems make no sense. Don’t engage with a bully — it’ll just make things worse. These all still feel apt today. Donald Trump is class ass; pass on a vote for him.