I am almost ready to express where I am with the recent election. This nation is divided. But not accidentally or happenstance. It is split up like a stump into a pile of firewood. Conservative wedge. Democratic hammer. People forced to, out of unending, choose between two.
Blame, ironically, is also a two party system. There are over three hundred million people in America. And a couple of privately operated, independent entities, convinced us to choose between two of them. What were true blue, lifelong Democrats supposed to do? How about Republicans, when every other option that ran ran off on them, clearing space for the saggy face of unmerited ego.
Blaming anyone for the direction in which they cast their fishing line last week is unfair, it’s misguided, and entirely intentional. Not a single one of us chose this fishing hole. And I can’t help but feel somebody knew it would come with a catch.
The men who founded this country were not enlightened so much as frightened by the prospect of democracy. It was really less a message of power for the people than it was about too much power for a king. They used democracy like a worm on a hook to catch the unending career opportunities offered up by republics. They did not know the celebrity culture that would take hold after just a few short centuries. The system they invented was like a cast put on the leg we busted trying to get out of the Great Britain bear trap. But it has become the clearest path to kingship left in America. And our celebrity culture has evolved into its own isolated form of incestual monarchy. What happened last week was just a sneak peek of what the future holds for elections in this country.
It is getting so difficult to hear arguments for representative solutions to apply to authenticated issues, over the sound of the phone in my pocket screaming how democracy is more possible today than ever before.
But to the people who made governing people into careers, democracy was never the goal. It is their greatest fear.
This morning I woke to the sound of so many minds clicking off. And while it is frightening to consider what all it took to turn them on in the first place, it was an uncomfortable feeling. Seeing hope only when it leads to victory. Treating someone else’s retrograde as your progress. If you didn’t see this coming, you and I have that in common. But thinking there was a fight to be had yesterday, and there isn’t one today, is not a thought we share. My mind is not clicking off, mostly because it turned on way prior to twenty sixteen.
This is it. These are the days our ancestors were obsessive over. This is the end of eras, and the birth of existence. Everyone in the world knows this man is not a candidate. Not a president. He’s an alarm clock. A morning reveille no amount of groaning or rolling over will deter. We’re awake now. We started stirring to laughter over the possibility of a controversial celebrity making a run for our nation’s big Grecian styled mansion. And by the time we took the thought of getting out of bed seriously, it was too late to stop it. That is not on you, or me, or anyone who cast a vote in this election, or anyone who didn’t. That is the fickle nature of representative government. We call this thing a popular vote. A popular election. We discredited candidates early on, not citing credentials, but their lack of likability and winning potential. We can say that to presidential candidates, though we would never say it to children. Yet we do, when we keep it as an institute.
A celebrity ran for president in a popular election and won. All I can think is, how the hell did I not see this coming. I laid down last night with this alarm set for myself. How there is always just enough time in an evening to forget morning will be born again at the end of it all, I do not know. There just is. The end of night seems determined to always come as a surprise.
And this morning, I woke to the sound of so many minds, for the first time, up early enough to see a sunrise.
When I was young, I remember learning about the Declaration of Independence, and the constitution, and the handful of men that shaped the birth of this country. Writing words like freedom and liberty with slave owners looking down over their shoulders. It’s laughable. And I wondered, even then, what’s the requirement? What threshold did these men step over to make their average intelligence exceptional, their dry bureaucratic wisdom quote-worthy, or the dull generic details of their lives suddenly inspirational. Thomas Jefferson loved to garden, so the fuck what, it was the nineteenth century, you didn’t eat if you didn’t garden. No one even asked George Washington to stop presidenting after a few years. He just stopped on his own. Something like the first seven presidents were all Virginians. Sixty years later, Virginia secedes from the same country it seeded.
Wouldn’t it be great, I mean wouldn’t it really be something, if America meant any damn thing inherently of its own accord. Germany does, and so does England, the Land of Angles, and so does Russia and France and China. But America means nothing. It’s the last name of a dude who didn’t even actually discover America. From its inception, this has been a nation that can only be held like a pen in your hand, our myths and legends and heroes are all still being written and rewritten. We started off with thirteen stars now we’ve pushed back past fifty. Socialism saved this nation post World War II, right up until Capitalism came back crippling people and selling crutches.
Government is a fancy term for people-farming. It is not America. America is not even America. We are living in the clay country. A shapeless nation. We’re blank-page people, pen in hand, creating our own legacy. No one in America drove by a thousand year old cathedral on the commute to work. We don’t have that sense of time. Our cathedrals are organic cotton fields and deteriorating downtowns and so many headlines, like the headlines today. They mean more to us. You either ran away from home, or were stolen from your home, or had your home stolen from you, in order to be American. You’re one of those three. We all have that in common. We have conflicted relationships with home. It’s part of us. But if you think you’re going to like what it means to be an American without ever holding a pen in your hand, you’re mistaken.
Government is chicken farmers. They want you thinking you were born half a beak and clipped wings and sharing too little space with too many birds. They want you believing that when they shoot you down in the street they take something from you. But I don’t blame the breeze for collecting my last breath. I don’t blame gravity for the fall that claims me. I am not surprised by fear, or that fear wants a gun in its hands, or that fear kills people whenever given the chance. America is not its government. It is Americans. That is the way it began, and that is the way it will always be. If you look around this country and do not like what you see, you had better be busy writing.
I’m trying to think of an analogy that really demonstrates the difference between how we scrutinize strangers, as opposed to the people sharing our immediate space. All I can think of is road rage. Seeing someone while there is a perceived barrier separating you from them. Little humans rolling around burning gas in far superior mechanisms, feeling ownership over something they did not make, and the underlying inspiration to protect it. We really don’t even consider how everyone else is doing the same. How the body-map image they had of themselves had to change to sit down and absorb a vehicle. Be it political, be it familial, be it work-related or racial or economic. Whichever distinction you are riding behind, looking through, steering with gripped hands and feet pushing pressure. They cut you off, they risk the twenty grand you sank into this explosive contraption, they threaten the family you’re carting, they essentially attack the entire high speed direction down which you’ve hurdled almost your entire being, careening toward a destination those people can’t even imagine. We do not have the time rolling down Eighty-Five at eighty-five to consider they may have destinations of their own in mind. Defensive reactions, life and death responsibilities, check engine light turned on.
Face to face, walking down the street, you might smile at her daughter. He might hold out his hand. Foreheads may nod toward each other like they were magnetized, drawn to share some central space between two brains.
But not inside that car payment, the monthly invoiced reminder that this pace of life is so dangerous you’re already paying for accidents that have yet to happen.
In your recliner like a car seat, stared through computer screens like they were windshields, gripping steering wheels that turn tires across so many jammed lanes of so many social media highways. Hating anyone and anything that impedes or seeks to supersede the imaginary trajectory you’ve imposed onto your imaginary journey. Kids making noise in the back because they’re not driving yet. Gritting your teeth leaned forward because just who the hell do these people think they are.
But if you could climb out of your politics the way you climb out of your car, never, never in a million years would you hate these people debating carpool lanes and traffic stops and where highways end and where all they could begin and guardrails and cutting grass and limitations of speed and limitations of engines and limitations of human sight and ability. They’re people. Sitting in their American-made political machines, engines running louder and stronger than any vehicle you or I will ever operate. People all the same. If you passed either one on the sidewalk, you’d smile and nod without thinking, you might even push out a hand. Both of them have been brave, and put their credibility and careers on the line in a highly tumultuous, unpredictable time. That takes a lot. Try stopping the car and walking. You might just get a better view of the two people talking.
If Donald Trump were actually a legitimate candidate, criticizing his character, scrutinizing his policies and career, even labeling him racist, or bigot, or just generally aloof when it comes to the who what when and where of his own ideas, makes complete sense. But, if he is not a legitimate candidate in the eyes of his supporters, but more of comeuppance, a source of revenge against the liberal trend that elected a black man named Barack Obama, twice, the insults are nothing but complete and apparent validation. I recognize the rhetoric liberal voices are hurling at Trump’s symbolic campaign, I heard them mirrored in the conservative voices that have been defaming and blaming Obama just as passionately for the past eight years. By hating him, you swell his support. You are digging trenches for entrenched people. Donald Trump is just a man. And in case you hadn’t noticed, the presidency chews up men and spits out curve-backed bureaucrats. We’ve had worse, and what’s worse, the worst were never called bigot. At the very least, Trump pulled the mask off the Republican party when he went to put it on himself. At the very least, with him, we already know what to expect. But he makes much more sense as Obama-revenge than a legitimate candidate. This election is not about the two individuals running. Americans have been asked to vote for either fear or revenge to become the next leader of the United States. Same as it ever was.