Three things that will put this post into context…
1: I’ve always been an outsider in my family politically speaking. (No, seriously. When we were just little goblins, my sister used to call me an environmentalist as an insult. It would make me so mad! That was a dirty word in our house. I mean, I was totally an environmentalist, but I didn’t like being called names, so…) Still, I don’t think anyone was surprised when I didn’t rush out at 18 and immediately register as a Republican. (For those interested, I chose Independent at the time.)
2: Elections just ended, and I’m reflecting back on my little kid years because talking politics was a gigantic part of my family when I was growing up.
3: Usually when I talk about anyone in my childhood negatively impacting me, it wasn’t my parents. My parents really, truly encouraged me to be an individual and make decisions for myself… so, yeah, this post? Not really about them. I’m just not part of one of those families that stops counting after first cousins. If you’re my fifth cousin, I know you, and we all go to the same reunions, and I probably know intimate details about your existance.
Occasionally there are those moments when everything in life becomes super clear. I think when we are kids, everything seems pretty grey. There are so many adults telling us things, adults that we are just supposed to love and trust because they are the ones making our PB&J and tucking us in at night, that we don’t really know what to believe. We just kind of go with the flow.
I can remember the first time I realized that the adults around me weren’t entirely not hypocritical about pretty much everything. (Meaning, they were kind of full of it.) It was the year 2000, and President Bush the younger had just been elected.
My country had been run by a Democrat for pretty much my entire memorable life (age 7 – 15), and as I grew up watching him, I couldn’t hate the man. To begin with, President Clinton was my leader and I respected that position because that’s what you’re taught as a kid. Secondly, I just always figured being the president was a pretty impossible job, and he was probably doing the best he could. I didn’t care that he had cheated on his wife, because people make mistakes. I didn’t care that he’d tried to cover it up, because I had never known anyone that had just come out and admitted they had cheated. They always hid it until they just could anymore. That also seemed entirely human.
For eight years, my very conservative family had talked about “ugh, that man”, and said Clinton with so much derision you would think he had eaten babies on national television. It was just how it was. He didn’t believe what they did, his policies were not in line with what they thought should happen, and so they just didn’t speak about him with anything that could remotely be construed as any sort of respect. In fact, I can remember a specific cousin saying that “He hasn’t earned my respect, so I’m not going to show him any! He’s not my president. I didn’t elect him.”
George W. Bush became the president elect when I was 15 in the last election I would ever not vote in. Suddenly there was a shift. My conservative family had their conservative leader, and when people on the news would criticize him, there was a jeering and hissing that had never happened when the news criticized our previous leader. Suddenly, it didn’t matter if you had voted for him or not, you were unAmerican if you weren’t on his side and cheering him on.
It was a bizarre feeling.
Something in my head clicked, and I got it. It wasn’t anything about the actual president, they thought that people that believed like them were the only people that deserved their respect and empathy. I didn’t understand the sentiment then, and I still don’t understand it.
This election season was a bit odd for me. I’m a real life adult now! A 27 year old on her way to 30. I pay taxes, I’ve been laid off and experienced the soul-crushing experience of being unemployed. I have kids and a vested interested in the economy, I’ve seen friends go to war and come back changed, I’ve had friends die, and I’ve been on the crap end of social justice. This election meant more to me than the other two I had voted in combined.
The days leading up to November 6th, and the days following reminded of that moment when my glass ceiling shattered. Suddenly, I was the bad guy to my family. The president was being called names all over the internet by people I loved. Had Mr. Romney won the election, I will admit openly that I would have been disappointed, however, I have no problem saying I would have respected the fact that more people in my country wanted him than didn’t. I would have respected his authority, and I would have been kind to the people that voted for him.
It’s possible I’m just an anomale. Maybe you’re supposed to have ill feelings towards those you disagree with, and maybe you are supposed to lash out, but I just can’t. For one, I don’t ever want to be associated with the moment when my kids look back and remember when they realized that the world around them was selfish and dishonest.
Essentially, this is a long winded rant about how I ‘m really disappointed by people. I’m disappointed that we can’t recognize that our differences don’t have to divide us. I’m disappointed that we can’t rally behind a leader to move the country forward instead of plotting ways to make them fail. I’m especially disappointed that we demand our own personal freedoms while ignoring the freedoms of those that believe differently than us on ideological and religious levels.
This election I’ve never been prouder to be an American. In my lifetime, I’ve never felt such a surge toward equality and change. However, this is also the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like being told I should be kicked out of my country for not being a real American. I’ve been metaphorically spit on by people that I considered friends and people that are part of my general gene pool.
My politics, my religion, my family and the way I choose to live my life are my own. I get to make those decisions because I live in a wonderful, free place. I’m so blessed to be here! I’m proud to be an American, I love my country! However, I’m fearful that if we can’t come together and realize that loving each other is more important than who’s guy gets elected, or who is allowed to marry whom, or who smokes what, or if I want to fill my womb with a baby or prevent that from happening with birth control of my choosing… we will fall to pieces. It has happened before.
A man that was experiencing the sincerest form of division in his country once said, “A house divided cannot stand.” That doesn’t mean a house that disagrees on ideals cannot stand, it means that a house that refuses to compromise with others is done for.
That’s pretty much it.