Thursday, November 10, 2016

vote for me and I'll set you free

Please forgive the rambling nature of this post. I mean more rambling than usual. I wrote this mostly for my own relief, as a carthasis after what I can only describe as a harrowing night. — JPiC
I voted in ten presidential elections and only picked the winner twice. But, honestly, a change in president has only affected my life — my personal life — once. Sure, there have been taxes and inflation, but those things would have occurred no matter who became president. You see, in 1981 under the Carter administration, I was enrolled in a four-year art school on a full, government grant for my first year. Therefore, in the first election in which I was eligible to vote, I cast my ballot for Mr. Carter for purely selfish reasons. He got trounced by Ronald Reagan, who proceeded to take the funds set aside for my art career and use them to purchase a bomb to blow up the Commie that was hiding under America's bed. With no support or encouragement from my parents, at 20 years old, I wandered into a bank and arranged for a student loan to cover my tuition for the next school year. I repeated the procedure a few more times until I graduated. I incurred a debt that I paid off, in monthly installments, over the course of ten years. So, aside from writing a check every month for $81.00, someone new in The White House really hasn't caused any upheaval in my life.

I admit I was a bit wary when Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992. After all, he was a young, cool guy who wore Blues Brothers shades and played the saxophone on late-night television. He was undeniably different from the forty-one stuffy men that preceded him. Those guys — the Reagans and the Nixons and the Eisenhowers — were my Dad's candidates. They were stiff, rehearsed, humorless guys whose dour visages would look right at home in the center of a piece of currency. But, Bill Clinton had a mischievous smile and a ton of charisma. He was both relaxed and commanding and, with a booming economy, he made the country feel comfortable. However, it was after Clinton's second-term win — when he defeated Bob Dole — that, I believe, things started to go to shit. Bob Dole was the ultimate sore loser. It was uncomfortable to watch Dole's "He's not my president!" behavior. But, again, it really didn't affect my day-to-day life. I still went to work. I was more concerned with the well-being of my family and, as always, just figured politics and the country would take care of itself... as selfish as that may seem.

I watched eight years of a George W. Bush presidency that evoked the good ol' backward-thinking Republican ways of my narrow-minded father and my narrower-minded grandmother. I saw the beginnings of a military conflict that was right out of the pages of George Orwell's 1984 — a battle against an unclear adversary that still rages on to this day. But, again, since a military draft had not been reinstated (besides, there was a huge amount of young men anxious to serve) and, since I was too old and my son was too young for military service, this, too, did not really affect my life on a personal level.

When Barack Obama became president, I truly believed that we had finally broken though and shaken off the clutches of the "old guard." By "old guard," of course I mean the government run by my father's old-white-guy Republican party. I figured that since, finally!, the President of the United States was a guy my own age (President Obama is exactly one week, to the day, older than I am), I was now part of the majority in the country and the president, as it had always been, was a reflection of the majority.

On Tuesday night — Election Night — I watched, in disbelief, as the progressive, visionary America that I saw blossom over the past eight years crumbled under a venomous blanket of hate, bigotry, xenophobia and unfounded fear. There was regular evidence that racism and hatred was alive and well in our country, but I was shocked that it has been allowed to be brought to the forefront by a bullying, prejudiced, uninformed, misogynist con artist. Like the Piper Piper of Hamelin, he played the right notes and stirred up the vermin that was hidden under the rocks and in the dirt. They followed his lead and they heard what they wanted to hear, ignoring the parts they didn't understand or didn't want to examine more closely. Say what you will about Mr. Trump, but the guy knows marketing. He successfully peddled his brand — a smoke-and-mirrors brand of gold-covered shit — and the right people bought it and happily ate it up.

And now the piper will be the next president, undoing everything that was accomplished over the past decade. I am thoroughly disappointed in my country.

Once again, the outcome of a presidential election may not affect me personally, but it will affect a great many people in this country — people of color, Latinos, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ community, women, immigrants, the disabled. Over the past eight years, I have met and become close to people that fall into those categories and it makes me sad for them. So, I take it back. This presidential election has affected me. In my effort to become less selfish, the results of this election makes me feel sorrow, anguish and fear on behalf of some people that I love.

Plus, It makes me embarrassed in front of the rest of the world.

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