Day of Reflection
In Spain, the day before an election is known as “The Day of Reflection.” There are no political ads or campaigning on that day and it was put in place to give voters time to think about their vote.
Time is one thing that Americans voters do not lack, as the election process seems to go on for an eternity. What does seem to be missing is reflection. I wish more people would take the time to reflect on the country that they want to live in and the country that they want for future generations. But the consequences go far beyond America’s borders. I can’t go a day without someone here in Barcelona talking to me about the election. People from around the world are worried about what the outcome will be. They have told me that they consider the President of the United States to be their president too, to be the President of the World. An Australian friend told me how nervous she was and many Spanish friends, when referring to Trump, ask what the heck is going on in the U.S. and how he’s gone so far. A friend from Uzbekistan sent me an optimistic message this morning saying, “Two more days til happiness.” God I hope she’s right.
The messages that Obama lauded of “hope” and possibility, “yes, we can,” seem to have dissipated among all the gridlock up the hill. I have been so disgusted by the hateful messages that Trump has spewed. But less than a week ago I had a burst of optimism at the moment the Cubs won the World Series. It made me hope; it made me think that anything is possible, that good can prevail, that happy endings do exist. I don’t want that feeling to end, but I’m too nervous about the outcome of this election. I just can’t help wondering, if the Cubs could bring more than five million fans together to celebrate, why can’t that brotherly love carry over to the polling places? Why can’t we see what we have in common even when we aren’t all dressed in Cubbie blue?
During this week’s Saturday Night Live intro, Trump (played brilliantly by Alec Baldwin) was surprised to find that his Twitter account was not actually private and that in spite of that he was still somehow in the race. Trump supporters praise him for speaking his mind and telling it like it is but I can’t imagine that if any “regular” person expressed the same views publicly, via Twitter, or to a fellow douchebag on a bus, they wouldn’t be fired from their job and have a hard time getting another.
Time and time again we hear of another group that Trump has called out and offended. His supporters defend him. It breaks my heart and makes me sick to my stomach when I hear his and his supporters’ hateful rhetoric. It feels like no one’s ever heard of “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.” We share each other’s struggles. So many of our families came to America fleeing persecution elsewhere. Everyone is just trying to make it in the world and do the best they can. They want to provide a better life for their kids. Why do we lose sight of that? I just saw someone on a friend’s Facebook page refer to “god damn refugees.” I don’t even know how to process that. I’ve heard stories of people who have been rude to and sometimes even violent towards others because they weren’t speaking in English. People seem so far removed from reality – like the fact that their families were almost certainly not originally from America. So what did their relatives speak when they first arrived here? And in a country where people hold “freedom of speech” so dear, does that only mean if the “speech” is in English?
Trump wants to “make America great again.” I honestly can’t figure out when he’s referring to. The slogan was originally Reagan’s and referred specifically to the economy. Trump’s seems use the slogan with quite different implications. While I am well aware of the rights that I am privileged to have as a U.S. citizen, I can’t help but wonder, when exactly was America great? Before you can talk about making America great “again,” you must also acknowledge the skeletons in the closet – the slaughtering of Native Americans, slavery, Japanese internment, and throughout time unequal treatment of and violence towards citizens based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, disability. And not accepting Syrian refugees because of completely unfounded fears that they might be terrorists harks back to when Jewish refugees were turned away for fear that they were Nazi spies. It was anti-Semitism then and it’s Islamophobia now. “If history is forgotten it is doomed to repeat itself.” Was that only a quote that we were taught in school or, by avoiding all the uncomfortable parts of history are we seeing the doom happening again before our eyes right now? “Make America Great” is a worthy slogan, but “Make America Great Again,” – I don’t buy it.
And so tomorrow, finally, is the day we find out what kind of country Americans want to live in – as Kate McKinnon put it so well at the end of this week’s SNL intro. While McKinnon portrayed Hillary Clinton she asked if the whole world had gone crazy. While it’s not the whole world – even though it seems like it with Brexit having passed and a president having been elected in the Philippines who encourages citizens to kill drug dealers – it seems like half of the U.S. has either lost their moral bearings or has decided that they will vote in spite of them. Even the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, was seemingly so disturbed by his own vote that would toe the party line that he couldn’t use Trump’s name when he said he had voted for “our nominee.”
I am not a religious person. But in the slight chance that there is a god out there, I pray that Wednesday morning I wake to a world in which Americans have chosen for love to trump hate.