The Chasm In Our Democracy; My Thoughts About the 2016 Presidential Election

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Today will mark one week and three days since the end of the 2016 USA Presidential election cycle. Of course we all know now that Donald Trump is our newly elected president and is set to officially begin serving his term after the inauguration on January 20th, 2017. I actually went to bed early on election night after feeling that I knew what the outcome would be based on the results that were coming in after all the polls were closed. My husband continued to tarry through the night. However, I could not, and eventually made the decision that I would not. At the time I had neither the desire or the energy to embrace the reality of a Trump presidency. Even now a week later and honestly for me it is still not palatable. But how many times in my lifetime have I had to swallow something that was not palatable. Being 51 years here I can assure you that I have had the experience on several occasions and have managed to live through them all. Go figure. And this unpalatable experience will be no different. The reality of the situation is that I will live on. (Well, that is of course as long as the source and creator of all life doesn’t deem otherwise.)The day after the election it was no surprise that those who supported the winning candidate were ecstatic. Of course this was to be expected. All of us share this same such excitement when we find ourselves on what appears to be the winning side. Many celebrated with the sentiment shared by half of the U.S. population, that as a result of the outcome of the election, America would finally be in a position to be made “great again”. The popularized campaign slogan would now become reality. Hmmm… and even now as a type the slogan “Make America Great Again“, I sigh. And let me be clear, I don’t sigh because I don’t believe or desire America to be great. However, my sigh and my cause for pause in accepting this slogan as genuine and honest, lies in the understanding of the vast differences in opinions, perceptions and beliefs regarding what is needed to make America great. I’m reminded of the idiom “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. And as I look at the landscape of America it is obvious to me that the treasures of “what” and “how” some people think and believe it will take to make America great, is viewed as trash to other people who think and believe in a completely different way. And herein lies the chasm in our democracy.

So where do we go from here? Again, let me be clear, yes I understand and have heard and/or read how many of the president elect’s supporters currently answer this question. Many have made it crystal clear that the game plan is simple. Everybody just needs to get on board with the program, accept the results, stop whining and move on to be about the business of, of course “Making America Great Again”. And again, I sigh. Unfortunately, or in my view perhaps fortunately, I know without a doubt that neither the answer to this question or the transition towards acceptance of the outcome of the election will be that simple. Yes, we as citizens of the United States will do what we have to do (well at least most of us will). But it will not be simple. Chasms don’t lend themselves to such a simple solidification process. And considering this, I restate the question; Where do we really go from here?

As both a woman, and person of color, I have accepted the reality that there are many challenging days ahead. Of course I also realize that the very nature of the gift of living life includes a path that is sprinkled with challenges along the way for all of us. This is simply the way it is. However, the specific challenges I am referring to in this writing are not those normal challenges. The challenges we face as a country right now are those that are a direct consequence of many many years of our inability to heal wounds deeply embedded into the very soul and fabric of this great American experience. As I consider these wounds I’ve concluded that perhaps one of the most positive results of the recent election cycle is that it seems to have stripped away many of the band-aids that have been used to cover wounds that were never properly cleansed and have over time become infected and rotten. The stench of them has fumigated America for a very long time. Much too long.

The truth is that it really has never been “Ok” to overtly or subtly marginalize segments of our population based on race, religion, abilities, gender, orientation or social status. And yet we know from sordid events in our own history (and unfortunately even in our present day society) such marginalization has always been a part of who we are. However, we can take pride in the progressive measures that have been made to abolish past normalized intolerance toward differences. And perhaps this is the major cause of my exhaustion with the current state of events in America. It seems there is an attempt to go backwards in our progress. It seems there is an attempt to try and normalize ideas, rhetoric and actions that we know and understand quite well don’t serve the greater good of all of our citizens. And because of this I am thankful that the attempts to return to normalizing such marginalization are being met with a bold and resounding voice of “No”!

So again, the question still remains, where do we really go from here? Of course I know there are no simple answers to this question. And I also know that there are no-one-size-fits-all solutions. But we as a nation must rise to the occasion. It is in our power of choice to make the decision to go forward and not to go backwards. And although I understand that there will always be people on the extreme sides of the spectrum. At a minimum it will require many of us to have the courage to believe differently about each other regardless of race, religion, abilities, gender, orientation, social status and political proclivities. It will require many of us to be gap builders. Standing in the gap between the extreme voices of “Us” vs. “Them” and holding the space that represents the oneness of “We”.

This will be no easy task for any of us. And I must be completely honest in saying that right now things are looking kinda’ bleak. Even I as an eternal optimist find myself at times vacillating from being hopeful to being hopeless, from being positive to being pessimistic, and from being ready to do whatever is required to make a positive impact to being ready to just throw in the towel and remain secluded and comfortable in my own circle of “like minded” people. It is in those vacillating times I am thankful for simple beliefs such as love and peace, mercy and grace and faith and trust. These simple but yet very powerful principles of belief strengthen me and help to return me to my core belief. At my core I truly do believe that love does have the power to trump hate, intolerance and indifference.

Although right now the  jury is out on whether or not we as a people in a Nation that desperately needs healing, can and will do what is required for our own transformation. Only time will tell. But I sincerely hope that we will rise to the occasion. At minimum, I hope that at least enough of us are willing to hold space and bridge the gaps that have been created as a result of the chasms in our democracy! Where do you stand and what will you do? Perhaps when it really comes down to it, the most important questions to be answered are those we can only answer for ourselves!


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