Last week, before the election, I was asked if my art students would make some anti-bullying posters. The plan is to hang them up around the building and use the student’s own work to remind them to treat each other–all others–with kindness and respect. This coming Friday is Veterans Day. Again, I was asked if my art classes (the elementary children this time) could make some “Thank You Stars” to hand out to all the veterans who come to our program, in recognition of their service to our country. Going into work Wednesday, after the election, I was a little lost emotionally. I didn’t really want to engage in conversation or interact with people. I wanted to sit at home and weep, weep for what I believe we lost as a nation by electing Donald Trump president. But, go to school I did.
As I walked around my classes, encouraging students with their projects, I quietly became aware of something. Although the election will most likely impact my students for a very long time to come, it did not impact them the day after. You see, I live is a small town (only one K-12 school), in a very red state. Most of my students’ parents probably voted for Trump. Most of the businesses have “We Support the Mine” posters in their windows–their priority being preserving the local economy verses protecting the environment. My daughter was the only one in her class to vote for Hillary in their mock election (not quite the only one in the whole school but close enough). She was actually nervous about going to school the next day, though reported “only” being mildly teased about losing
The point is, most of my students, and most likely most of their parents, had already moved on. Unlike me, they didn’t see the irony of electing a bully for president and working on anti-bullying posters the next day. They did not contemplate a future in which the veterans from our next war could potentially be associated with an internal, rather than external, conflict. They voted for Trump because Republicans simplified their message a long time ago–family, God, jobs, and country–and Trump was the head of the Republican party. In the world of my small town ALL politicians are equally inaccessible, don’t actually represent their views, and honestly, don’t impact their daily lives much. The vocal, ugly, fist waving Trumpsters the media likes to highlight are, to them, as harmless as Uncle Joe who talks big after a beer or two but won’t really hurt anybody but himself. List Trump’s bullying offenses and you’ll likely get shrugged shoulders, “so what”, “get over yourself”, or “grow a pair”. In their world, life is hard and only the tough survive. If you happen to get teased a little in the process, well it’s for your own good.
I want to challenge them, readjust their paradigm, force them see the world through a more compassionately complex lens. But to do that takes time they don’t have to waste and might make them soft. Becoming soft is their enemy. It threatens their very survival. They can’t worry about who loves Steve. They have crops to get in or a herd to winter. They need the mine to stay open so their Daddy will have a job. Unions might have helped the working man for a little while a long time ago, but they didn’t stop the factory from closing and moving overseas. Trump may not be the answer (I certainly don’t think he is) but they don’t care. Trump had a simpler message–Make America GREAT again. It’s a slogan they can wrap their heads around. They know what their great America looks like, even if what they envision isn’t what others envision. Racism? Sexism? Xenophobia? “Grow a pair. If you know you ain’t the problem, then he ain’t talking about you. Why make things more complicated than they have to be?”
Obviously, I hold a different truth.
I believe America is in the slow burn phase of this event. We have a couple months to get used to the idea of a Trump presidency. We will have a peaceful transition of power because that is how it’s done. Most, even most of those who voted for Hillary, will initially be okay. It’ll probably be a long time before my little town feels much negative impact. Of course, the first thing to go will be the Affordable Care Act because it’s called Obamacare and the GOP have already tried to repeal it 60 times. But that’s okay because only 10 million people, approximately 3 percent of the population, are effected by Obamacare anyway, and the rest of us deserve lower premiums. Though, we probably shouldn’t expect that to happen since the insurance companies have gotten used to us paying higher rates and the moneyed interests are still in control of the legislature. Of course, not having an alternative plan won’t matter much either because what’s 3 percent of the population. Republicans in Washington have bigger things to worry about. They need to defunding Planned Parenthood (One and a half million people receive their healthcare needs through that abortion mill and it must be stopped). They must also push though a Supreme Court nominee who will over turn marriage equality (What’s another 4 percent of the population?) and finally rid us of Roe V Wade, (After all, less than a million women get abortions each year. And, those baby killers ought to be locked up).
Change. Not the type to impact my little town too much, but change that will keep the religious right thinking it won its war for the moral conscious of our nation. Change that will appease the Right when other more drastic changes occur. Change not worth risking our progress, reputations, moral high ground, or livelihood over.
Did you know, Hitler was raised a Catholic and routinely used Biblical arguments to advance his cause against the Jews? Ironic, isn’t it.