O Courage My Soul, and let us journey on…
Social media can’t do this… I’m trying to speak through this.
So much to process… Forgive the incoherence and the meandering… these are my thoughts. Unpolished and unedited.
I’m not making this about Trump. It’s about what Trump tapped into. That’s where I’m at. I’ll think about Trump another day.
I’m not trying to reduce this to a singular cause. You can’t get this kind of event by just looking at one cause. Singular causes are the devil in a world of interrelationship.
I don’t know if this country can take another two-party system election given the demographics and population dispersals of America. This is not abstract talk. Western ways of knowing, doing, and thinking don’t seek to harmonize dualisms (left vs right, white vs minority, rich vs poor, men vs women); in the West, dualisms either bring hierarchy (left over right, right over left) or the destruction of the other side so that there can only be one essence.
But in a land of 300 million plus, I find it utterly preposterous and downright undemocratic that we only have two “legitimate” options. This country needs at least 5 major parties to accurately represent the electorate. This duopoly must end. It brings out the worst in human beings and makes the vote tied to fear and domination. Fear, of course, which is easily manipulated.
America is a diverse space; it has had issues seeing its diversity as a strength. That goes for the right as well as the left. But given our epistemology–the way we come to know and experience the world–I’m not surprised. Too many on the left celebrate diversity by jettisoning and banishing the right. And the right seems to be consistently afraid of what diversity means for them.
Also, this is the second election I’ve voted in where the popular vote gives the nod to the loser of the electoral college. Rigged systems, huh? The electoral college is a pile of horse manure. Period. Also, take a look at this…
My hope for our world includes but was never limited to the state or politics. And ultimately, my trust, hope, and love is in a God of love. And because of that, I will continue to pursue justice, mercy, love, and peace.
History: other than the exceptional circumstances of FDR and Reagan/Bush I, a political party has never held the White House for three straight terms.
And my heart goes out to Clinton as a human being. That loss hurt.
Though Hillary was a woman (I’ll say more on this in a second) Dems ran an establishment candidate in a year where the fringes and inseams of both left and right desired CHANGE. Don’t tell me Bernie couldn’t win. Donald Trump was just elected. Regardless of how Clinton supporters feel, the reality is that Jeb Bush’s fate should have given folks pause. I thought about this 2 months ago. In general, a Bush or Clinton has been running for president since 1980 with the exception of 2012. Think of that. We talk a lot about Trump embodying undemocratic principles, but what are the optics of two families dominating Presidential elections for 36 years–my whole life? Other than 2012, a Bush or a Clinton was running for or was in the White House. As a whole, Americans are big on emotion and symbols (and not much else) so that’s gonna mean something to those who voted against and quite frankly, for those who didn’t vote at all.
That being said, patriarchy is real and older than tribalism and classism. I can’t imagine “America” electing a woman who was married 3 times. “Slut.” I can’t imagine “America” tolerating a woman who said she would grab dudes by the dick and then call her opponent a “nasty man.” “Ho.” I can’t imagine America electing a woman who rambled through speeches and who after being given a tough question from Chris Wallace would have responded, “he had semen coming out his eyes, out of his whatever…” and still be taken as a legitimate candidate. “Bitch.” White women broke for Trump in general, which is, in the final analysis, unsurprising. Patriarchy is maintained through consent as well as domination.
Misogyny is real, alive, and well. Given these realities, I worry about my black daughters. I really do. But there’s a God out there, a community that loves and supports them, and the state and misogyny and patriarchy does not and will not have the last word.
But that’s not all.
Race…. oh siiiiiiigh…. the other…. what has become increasingly clear to me is that this is a nation willfully blind and hard-hearted. When I hear a man say that he wants to make Muslims take a test or question their citizenship and I have Muslim relatives, that will affect me. When I hear a man routinely say “we” when he speaks of (white) America, and then uses the word “the” for minority groups… when any American speaks of immigration and doesn’t mention Native Americans… I’m just… yeah.
Could the bulk of white men in this country go for their former slave and their momma/wife running this county for 12 consecutive years? The answer is a resounding “hell no.” And it appears that neither could many white women. But that’s not all there is to this story.
Singular causes are the devil in a world of interrelationship.
I imagine many feel today what the right felt when Barack Obama was elected.
I’ve come to the sad, though unflinching conclusion that there is a segment of America and indeed throughout the world who have staked their humanity on domination. (Whiteness is one way (of many) this impulse has been embodied.) For those of this persuasion, being equal is not enough. In order to feel like they are worth something, in order to feel like they matter, in order to feel like this space is for them, in order to feel like a person, they must dominate. This, of course is antithetical to the answer Jesus gave James and John when they asked to sit at the left and right hand of Jesus. He told them to take that competitive spirit and use it for service. But though it comes in many forms, and in America it is tied to race and other factors, the desire to be exceptional and dominant has yielded great fruit. Fruit of domination, division, and exploitation. Jesus never said bad trees wouldn’t produce any fruit. He said the bad tree would produce bad fruit. But we live in a world where growth and accumulation–bearing fruit no matter it’s source–is heralded as “good…” disaster.
To make America Great again is not to make Americans equal. To make America Great is to win again. It is not to recognize that we all are brothers and sisters. If we don’t win then we’ve lost. And we don’t want to break even. The upsurge of minorities and the election of a minority president elicited a primal reaction from a great deal (though not all) of the right and from day one, Obama was hailed as illegitimate. But we need to stop looking at this through the eyes of hatred and through the eyes of reality. Obama was discredited precisely because he won. Because winning in this system means that somebody else lost–not that the system is balancing itself and seeking equilibrium. And so, the loser feels like they are less than the winner or that they will soon be destroyed… because that’s the logic of this place. And if your humanity is tied to the ability to dominate, you cannot accept loss or equality. White supremacy, racism, etc… this is never about hatred of the other first, it is always about domination and power first.
Domination. Racism and race is nothing but a product of domination. It’s insidious and systemic.
Democracy be damned if it means losing privilege and dominance.
My God, what a demonic epistemology and philosophy of life we have! No harmony. Just hierarchy or the obliteration of the other. That’s how you win. That’s how you problem solve. You don’t win when you can balance both sides. You win by subduing the other side, or destroying the other side.
Also–and this must be said–there are those who voted for Trump to screw the system. There is a strong economic issue that Bernie and Trump tapped into with white, working class folk–and no matter what folks say–moderate democrats as well as republicans–like Clinton–pushed a neoliberal agenda that hurt working folks across the board since the Reagan years. Why folks would then go and vote for a businessman who benefitted from the neoliberal policy and has shown disdain for workers throughout his business life is beyond me. But then again, I must give trump credit. The cat knows how to brand himself. Here’s the rub though: Trump promised white working class folk something Reagan ‘nem never promised: real jobs and not just trickle down economics. In the past, it was enough to placate some in this bloc by granting them the social privilege of being white even if jobs were nonexistent or mediocre. But thirty years of wack neoliberal economics has made this bloc much more in tune with economics than people give them credit for. Again, why they would vote for a man who has gamed the system is beyond me, but the sentiment of nuking the system… I honestly get it. The left didn’t have the stones to pull what they pulled.
But Democratic CA recalled Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican Movie Star to be governor. Sound familiar? Were they crazy? Jesse Ventura, a professional wrestler, was elected in Minnesota? What were they thinking? Trump is also that phenomenon on a presidential scale. These votes are similar in that they are a signal to the Status Quo politicians that the public can’t take the BS anymore. These folk knew what they were doing when they voted for The Terminator and The Body.
This was not all about race. Clinton lost certain predominantly working class white counties that Obama won in ’08 and ’12. Michael Moore called it.
But this election reveals how race, class, gender, sexuality and even disability coalesce into an electorate that has been given the pill of the Matrix and tries to work out our (idolatrous) identity politics and economic concerns with an epistemology and two-party system incapable of bringing harmony and sustainability–because neither the epistemology nor the system was ever designed to bring harmony and sustainability.
I know. I know. That was a mouthful even for me. But please read it again.
That is the truth of America. Even with its real strengths and opportunities; this is also the truth of America.
Yes. Wake up.
And stay woke.
Don’t try to find healing on social media. Call somebody on the phone. Hug somebody’s neck. Read an article or some sacred text. Listen to some music with a loved one. Hold someone’s hand. Watch the sunrise. I’ve had my fill of social media as a place of “change” or healing.
I’m thinking of my Auntie, who I admire so much. She has fought for the cause of social justice and mercy for her entire adult life. Her words have touched me and her actions have inspired me to be more vocal and to do something. I’ve been thinking a lot about the vote; it’s power and its limitations; the possibilities and dangers that lie in it. I’ve been thinking about how this important ritual and right has led some of us to take the interim periods between elections off and think that our civic duty begins and ends with voting.
I think of how my ancestors had to create community even though they couldn’t vote. I think of how they built institutions even though they couldn’t vote. I think of how they survived racist presidents and legislatures.
I’m definitely not saying that we don’t need to or should not vote, but I am realizing that my ancestors had placed their ideas, identity, hopes, love, and faith on something beyond the vote and the state even as they sacrificed life and limb to vote and change the state. They understood that the state needed to be dealt with but their hope didn’t ultimately lie in the state and nether did it lie in some afterlife that kept them politically inactive and docile.
I’m trying my best to stay in that precarious though encouraging space.
It’s a space. America keeps talking about getting better or being great again, but nobody is talking about a different space. Just building on the old space or returning the old space back to its “glory days.” There is no proclamation that “the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Stripped even of its theological connotations… Jesus and John the Baptizer dared to announce that a different space was possible in the midst of Roman imperialism and religious upheaval. I guess maybe that’s why I’m not surprised about this outcome. This outcome is old; it’s the same space. But is there something different, not new, but different out here?
I believe so.
And to the great many people who dissolved 20+ years of relationship for people you don’t know personally… I ask that we all think about what that says about where our priorities truly are. Conservatives who decry the imposition of government into personal life have allowed candidates to dissolve friendships. Progressives who speak eloquently about diversity and collaboration and decry prejudice are unwilling to even talk to the other side, claiming that everyone is a racist filled with hate.
I’m not foolish. There are racists out here. There are those who would love to hurt a minority. And there are times when the government gets the “doing too much” award. But I went to high school with folks who voted for Trump and Clinton. And the majority of them would stop their car and help me if they saw i had a flat–though I must confess, a small few would give me pause after this election season…
I’ve been disenchanted with Christians on the right. I must confess. I don’t understand how a religion that has a central mandate to repent and forgive could produce an electorate that enthusiastically voted for a man that doesn’t apologize and admitted that he doesn’t ask for forgiveness. Stop all the pro-life, gun rights, blah blah blah… that’s a fundamental tenet of the faith. All have fallen short and need to repent and need forgiveness. Yet this man was lionized for not being politically correct. For insulting and saying stuff that we’d discipline our kids if they said. And then after our kids said the stuff, they would look at us and say, with arms folded, “and i ain’t gonna apologize.” What an indictment.
The media helped to create Donald Trump’s momentum and they thought they could control it. They were wrong.
I can’t clean up this next part. I can’t give eloquent words to remove the sting.
I’ve been quiet about my predictions, but those who know me, know that I predicted he’d win. Not because I wanted him to win, or because I was a doom and gloom kinda cat; it’s just because we live in a nation where winning is subduing and destroying (for the left and right), where popular vote doesn’t get you in the White House, where human beings trust in domination and fear more than they trust in love, and where voting and representative democracy–though extremely important–has allowed so many to neglect and ignore their social responsibility to love and pursue justice and mercy.
So let me say it this way. I’m not surprised. And for those that were surprised, I’m not judging. Really. I’m not. But I ask you to listen not to the high, progressive ideals of America or to the worst of the right, but to the cries of the historically oppressed like those at Standing Rock. They will tell you what this place is capable of… even with a black president. Listen to those working class folk left behind in a neoliberal capitalist world who have been crying out for years, revealing (what I learned from my auntie as a truism of life) “where/that it hurts” and expressing that pain in ways that are sideways and disjointed… and filtered through the prism of race, patriarchy, and class.
There are going to be some trying days ahead. Of that I am sure. This election will embolden some of the worst this country has to offer. I will not be overcome by fear and hatred. And I think our young people will surprise many in the coming years. But I am certainly aware that fear and hatred can speak and are speaking today.
I understand the need to lament and blow off steam. Please do. That’s healthy and a part of self care. Do that. Cry. Acknowledge how you feel, but try to do so in a spirit of love–even if that love leads to anger.
Lament. Do what you need to do to lovingly, harmoniously, and sustainably let go of this and process this. Do that.
Now do it again.
And remember the words of Curtis Mayfield, “Its okay to cry. Go ahead and cry. Cuz Jesus wept, but hope and faith he kept. It’s a new day.”
And after the season of (rightful) lament is over, I stammer and say to you all and to myself what Jesus and John the Baptist dared to say, what my ancestors sang about and created, and what God and the universe continuously offers us… Brothers and sisters, a different space is possible–beyond republicans and democrats, hierarchy and destruction. Repent and believe this good news. The sun rises and the time is now. Leave our epistemology behind. Repent. Leave our fear. Repent. Leave our hatred. Repent. Believe and let’s get to work and collaborate with God and one another to build a living community of justice, mercy, and kindness.
Faith, hope, and love… mixed with Justice and Mercy…
©2016 M. J. Sales