I am waiting for the hateful to unclench the tight fists of their hearts. Waiting for all of us to stop yelling at each other.
And to start listening.
These days both sides, Republican and Democrat, seem to take less pleasure in winning elections than in watching the other side lose. Instead of collaborating toward similar goals, common Americans are at each other’s throats—the way the elite have always preferred it. At a time when slaves started to working together to empower themselves, slave-owners figured out how to keep them in competition. Lighter skinned blacks against darker skinned blacks. Household slaves against field-working slaves. Male verse female. Dividing families was part of the strategy until they were all split into hostile hierarchies rather than rising up in resistance together.
Another strategy was to convince poor whites that they were valued and that they should support the wealthy slave owners’ interests. Over half the beneficiaries of the Affordable Health Care Act are Trump supporters who just voted to eliminate the health care they need and deserve. And I want to ask them why.
I want to listen.
The Democratic Party, which used to be the working-class party, has effectively alienated blue collar America while attracting over-educated academics. Many of them entitled, arrogant, and annoying. The Republicans continue to equate any kind of social programs with Communism by preying on the masculine sensibilities of Middle Americans. I’ve spent half my life farming and ranching and I know that if you’re a Democrat you’re weak. Real men don’t need things like health care or unions. Better to support the elite—who keep empowering corrupt CEO’s with tax breaks—than to admit you can’t take whatever they throw your way.
We all seem more interested in being right than finding the best way forward. More concerned with what we believe than why we believe it. Instead of living in ways that justify our beliefs, we find beliefs that justify the ways in which we live. It’s more convenient that way.
But we can no longer afford convenience.
It’s time to admit our mistakes. Time to open to new ideas and hear what the other side has to say. Maybe it’s time for a new kind of masculinity. One in which a real man values tolerance and understanding over anger and violence. Real men don’t ridicule the disabled, disadvantaged, or the weak. A new kind of masculinity in which a real man honors war heroes and respects women.
We are all voting against our interests, it seems. Voting against each other without realizing most Americans have similar values and needs. We have to stop talking over one another. And start really listening. The only way forward is through understanding. And working together. Which party you support, or don’t support, shouldn’t matter. Instead, maybe we could focus on the things we agree on. And maybe we can start by agreeing that our leaders should actually care about our country? That whoever the president (Republican or Democrat) they should want the best for Americans and want more than to just make themselves richer at the cost of everyone else. Meanwhile maybe the rest of us could be more concerned with reality than reality TV.
It’s now clear that Trump is only interested in his personal gain as evidenced by his cabinet of billionaires who mostly have the same conflicts of interest he has. The proposed travel ban is only for Muslim countries where Trump has no business partners. And, ironically, the Muslim countries he doesn’t want to ban are those whose citizens have actually killed Americans in the last forty years. Like Saudi Arabia. Or Egypt.
Forget the first hundred days in office. How do we feel about the first two weeks? We’re alienating our long-time allies around the world. Banning refugees, which seems uniquely un-American, and pushing to make peaceful protesting a felony. Pipeline construction is resuming on sacred burial grounds while treaties continue to be broken.
Before the vulgarity, misogyny, and racism became so obvious I liked the idea of Trump in the sense that, like Bernie Sanders, it seemed he could not be bought by lobbyists, big business, or corporations. Not because he didn’t have ties. Just that he had so much money. How could he be interested in more? How could that level of greed exist?
Clearly, I underestimated him.
And as my cousin’s six year old daughter said the other day: “Trump never wanted to be president. He just wanted to be in charge.” He doesn’t care about leading a country to greatness (ironically), or taking care of its citizens. He cares about making himself more money. And at garnering himself more attention, positive or negative, like the reality TV star he was born to be.
From Standing Rock to the Million Woman March I’ve seen a lot of anger in the last two months. A lot of tension and misunderstandings. But I’ve also seen a lot of love. And peace. And unity of purpose. Most Americans want other Americans to do well. To prosper. To pursue happiness. To have clean water, protect and care for their dead. To have sovereignty over their own bodies. Civil liberties and equal opportunities. Basic human rights and respect. To keep their jobs in fields and factories. And to keep the government out of our business.
In the last few months I’ve seen women praying on the Backwater Bridge in front of armed guards and tanks. I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of concerned Americans flood the streets of our capitol and I am confident that we will make America great again. Not Trump. As long as we don’t let him, or anyone else, divide us. As long as we stay positive and keep the faith.
And so I’m telling the greedy and the hateful and the intolerant to loosen their death grips on the weak, the under-privileged, and the poor. To uncoil. And recoil. To finally relax the tight fists of their hearts. I am telling us all to stop yelling over each other. To come together.
And to listen.