Election

I prefer to stay blissfully apolitical — informed but never consumed. The truth is, even living off the first subway stop outside of Washington D.C., politics have never affected my household. As the Avett Brothers sing, and my wife and I enjoy quoting, “Your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected.” I can’t say that anymore.

And that’s why I’m writing this post.

When pre-school teachers asked my son who he was voting for on election Tuesday, he said, “Grandpa!” They then told him the name of the two candidates he could vote for. He came home that night saying, “I’m voting for Donald Trump.” Most likely, the president-elect’s name is just more memorable than Hillary Clinton’s.

We intervened. To imagine our son modelling his behavior or language after this man is intolerable. My wife explained that Mr. Trump is a bully.

“Like Flash Thompson?”

Flash is a character who bullies Peter Parker in the Spiderman stories my son reads.

“Yes! Just like Flash Thompson. He says mean things to people.”

“So, he’s a bad guy?”

“Yes. He’s a bad guy.” His logic was undeniable.

 

This morning, with the shocking results made official, my wife and I made a pact to not mention the words President Trump in the house, hoping we don’t have to explain how someone like Flash Thompson is our country’s role model of leadership.

On usual mornings, I let my children play in the yard as I pack up the car to take them to daycare and pre-school before I head out to work. We live in a diverse community. We are white. Our immediate neighbors are black, Muslim, and El Salvadorian.

This morning I had my kids wait at the door while I loaded up the car. A pair of young hispanic men walked by. I didn’t look them in the eye, knowing they were making assumptions about me, as I was making assumptions about them. I kept my kids inside because I felt the need to protect them.

These assumptions aren’t real. The fear of the thing is never real. But now there’s a problem. Trump’s candidacy and the fear which spurred it has been actualized. The fears of millions have become real. All Americans — no matter race or creed — are all wondering what else will be made real.

What upsets me as a parent is that I can’t control what my son will determine are his core values. And what upsets me most as an American is that nothing about this feels the least bit democratic.

 

There is always a silver lining. I hugged our hispanic day care providers and let them know I love them. I spoke to the neighbors I know on the block as well. There are conversations we the people must have. The issue of tolerance is now in our lap as a fight-or-flight instinct.

America has lived in a bubble for too long. We confirmed it electing a Christian president who flaunts a set of values that run so contrary to my family’s that my wife and I made a pact to avoid mentioning his name altogether.

The question that I can’t answer — the question that forced these keystrokes on the screen — is: what will happen when the bubble bursts?

32 Responses to “Election

  • Nicola O'Hanlon
    7 months ago

    I felt this deeply. I feel for all Americans today. Even the ones that view the election result as a triumph.

  • Strange and worrying times when counties choose to leave the eurozone and a xenophobe becomes the most powerful man on the planet.

    It shows a deep discontent of a poisoned and corrupt system, where companies dictate policies and force us all into corners.

    We must however stop looking for external solutions because they’ll never come, we need to find peace in what we do have and pray that things don’t get [catastrophically] worse.

    X

    • Agree 100%, Destiny Awaits . . . (and your namesake is wonderfully heartening). – DDM

    • You’re right Mat. I don’t think they will come. I like how you said “force us into corners”. That was my main source of frustration in this election. I feel forced into feelings and thoughts that I would otherwise not feel or think. Strange like you say.

  • I’m still stunned and embarrassed enough that it is hard to process. But I appreciate your message and reminder about the conversations that we must have with those around us. Thank you for the message and reminder about something concrete I can do at this point.

  • Brian Adkins
    7 months ago

    Thank you for your blog here Mark. I am 30 days into sobriety from what may be termed a “high-functioning addictive condition”. I, in contrast to you, get into politics. At one point in my college career I was a Poli-Sci major and had aspirations of running for office one day. Of course, my affinity for drinking and drugging shifted my aspirations knowing that eventually these things would disqualify me for many reasons, not the least of which is the public’s judgement of my faults. This election was an ugly one as everyone would agree. Both party’s put forward less than desirable candidates, yet I was convinced that the American people would swallow their distaste for the same ole Beltway crowd and see that “he” was unfit to serve as the most powerful man in the civilized world. We would elect Clinton and the simply deal with 4 more years of stagnation through obstruction and maybe we will get two honorable statesmen(or women) to bear the torch of proper leadership.

    Yet, as we saw, I was sorely wrong. My initial instinct is to first get drunk and provide endless hours of Facebook rants to all of my family and friends that either truly supported him, or considered Clinton less desirable, and inform them of their lack of intelligence when it comes to important issues such as macro-economic policy and international relations. I want to prophetically lecture about our impending misfortune, our loss of respect around the world, the soon to come recession and further loss of our middle class so the Oligarchs can further expand their wealth on the backs of the very people that allow them to do it. I want to remove myself from their presence because in my mind they are the ones who allowed this to happen, it is their fault that we will have to deal with, what assures to be, the worst 4 years of our country’s existence. I deviously hope for utter turmoil so I can stand on my pedestal of self-righteousness and point at them sneering that “I told you so” and couple it with demeaning terms for their assumed lack of intelligence on these matters and reinsert my superiority over them. Or maybe, if he turns out to not be that bad and not follow through on the pledges he made, that made the most ardent supporters cast their vote his way (like building a wall, deporting immigrants, locking our borders to Muslim refugees) I can get satisfaction showing their sheep-like following of a carnival barker and revel in their disappointment.

    But ultimately, what does that get me? Perhaps a moment of fleeting pleasure, much like the drunk or high I would get from substances? Sure, in that moment I would feel exhilaration, but after that subsides, I will surely be left with an emptiness and possible alienation from the ones that I love (despite their political views). Not only that, as I imagine myself berating those close to me I can’t help but see “him” in that behavior. That is exactly what he would have done had he lost the election.

    I am very despondent about the results of this election, but when I reflect on it further, I am really just upset with where we have found ourselves as a country. Because of the actions of both parties and the lack of participation that we as citizens make to our societal governance, we have allowed an elite political class to only call us to service once every 4 years (I guess every 2 in mid-term elections) and then ask us to fade back into our ant mound mindlessly churning away the gears of this machine for their benefit alone. So, I think instead of blaming them, I need to look inward. I cannot convince nor persuade (props to your last post) everyone around me, because we all ride a different ray of the sun. What I can do, is change myself. How can I turn this into a positive?

    Perhaps this will lead me to reengage myself in civic life, rekindle my desire for public office and as I progress in my sobriety become fit for that service.

    Of course, it could just ingrain my jaded mindset and hope that others will solve the problems we have so my children and future grandchildren will live in a better world. One thing that is certain, writing this here has allowed me to release some of my inner thoughts I have been struggling with all day. Thanks for the ear (or eyes as it were).

    • Brian Adkins
      7 months ago

      Not to mention, my doomsday prophecies are overly dramatic, and while we may have some hiccups, will not end our society. We survived the Great Depression and the Civil War. I think we can survive a reality show pilot….

    • Hello Brian –

      I can’t thank you enough for getting your thoughts on this post published here. I am grateful for all that you wrote. You, like me, had to write it. It always helps to get these sorts of issues fleshed out — and flushed down — sometimes. I am happy and content to start the conversation. I was very apprehensive to publish anything political on this site because, as I said, I stay out of it on purpose usually.

      The connection you made between reacting quickly and in emotion on social media and the way we behave toward alcohol was brilliant. I wish I had this conversation with you prior to publishing the post. Because there are clear connections between how I felt yesterday and a hangover. I’ve been fortunate to have hangovers of the ‘spiritual’ variety. Where I had a day so full of peace and good stuff that the next day I am antsy and anxious all over again, thinking that the proverbial other shoe will drop.

      This was a different kind of spiritual hangover. The fear I felt in my heart stepping out of the house on Wednesday morning was real. And fear isn’t real. That’s what inspired this post. I hated the way I was forced to feel one way or another, without an in between. I’ve studied enough history (although never political science like you) to know that these elections are always a cause of stress and an example of binary opinions. But never, have I felt so emotionally invested for the people in my life, including my son and my 18 month old daughter, for the outcome.

      Look, maybe Trump will be a good president. The problem, which you so accurately describes, is that we elected him for all the things he said, and many more things he implied and represented. No way he can accomplish much of any of his more aggresive and xenophobic agenda, but he was elected for believing in it. And saying disparaging things (not to mention doing disparaging things) to every group of people not his own.

      I lost some followers for this post. But I’m not taking it down. I didn’t think overtly political. Like many of my other posts, it deals with the miracle of the mundane. My domestic life and all the goodness in it. Only this one dealt with how the political machine threatened that miracle, that I work my ass off to maintain and cultivate.

      If you ever start a blog. I’m following it. Happy Veterans Day to you sir,

      Mark

  • Good piece Mark. I think our bubble bursting has been long in the making. Because Trump was elected may be the catalyst to change, we dont know what that change looks like. That is scary. Our entire system may be at fault here and this is just the car bomb that is gonna bring it down. I dont know, I dont lean on my own understanding or try to figure it out. I just trust in God for everything, yes even this. He is bigger than America and whatever happens I am at peace with, He will be right there working all things to His good no matter what. Keep writing bro, you make us think.

    • A-men Kip.

      I agree with you. What’s far more important than how America is voting or what America is thinking is my relationship with God. I can control that, not the outcome of some election. I can control it by allowing God to steer my life in the direction God chooses. This is certainly a change, and no one knows for what yet. All we can do is live our lives, faith-filled and followers of the One who will be there in the end! The only One who has been there since the begginning.

  • justonemore
    7 months ago

    At least the satirists will have years of fun. I wouldn’t worry too much, we had Tony Blair for donkey’s years – at least he can only serve 8, unless you have a new dynasty to look forward to – Ivanka? Or is she barred as an immigrant? His kids must already be thinking about the job – now that’s scary. There are some 300 million other people to choose from though.

    Justonemore

    • Thanks for visiting Justonemore!

      The permutations of this are endless. Yes, you have to be born in America to run for president. It is pretty much the only requirement for the job, other than, of course, tha majority votes of the country. Or more accurate, winning the electoral college, which Trump did without a majority vote.

  • I liked the perspective and the reasoned approach.
    I have the luxury of being a white man only slightly younger than the Cheeto Hitler our system, with my participation, elected yesterday. For me, as a club member, very little will change.

    I’m afraid for women, people of Hispanic heritage, Muslim friends and acquaintances, for LBTQ and others looking for their place in our United States (that isn’t as united as it was 48 hours ago).

    I keep hoping it’s true that it’s never eaten as hot as it’s served because in the last 17 months or so we’ve said and done some pretty horrible things to one another. And I’d hate to think that was just for starters.

    • Great comment, Bill. I will try to be hopeful that we’ll rise above the dreck we’ve seen in the past month. (Such a wonderful German word, isn’t it? *Dreck*) Peace! – DDM

    • That is the question. Where does it go from here? I think that’s the question that is driving this fear that is so palpable living right next to the nation’s capitol. Thanks Bill.

  • Your words had a dual-effect on me, Mark. 1) I’m heartened by the example you’re setting for your children, and; 2) I’m encouraged by the way that you have reached out to others in light of your own recovery, that those same readers have felt called to leave very thoughtful and caring comments.

    It’s counter-intuitive: who woulda thunk that the Donald would bring out the best qualities for each other (at least here on your fine blog)?

    Keep on keeping on…

    – Danno

    • Thanks Dan – I’m glad you got the ‘silver lining’ bit. I would hate for this post to be taken as another political rant. That’s not really my style. I know you have a busy month coming up, brother. But I’m going to sneak in a phone call here with you after Thanksgiving!

      Mark

  • Susannah
    7 months ago

    I disagree with all of the above comments with due respect.
    Although I use this website for your thought-provoking sobriety and wellness posts, I will no longer follow along. The country is divisive enough, I wish the sites I find comfort in would stick to what they are there for in the first place.
    Why not go air your political “embarrassment” somewhere else that’s designed for that purpose.
    Bye bye. I’ll miss this website.

    • You will be missed Susannah.

      I’m not one for political leanings. Not likely you’ll see any more. But, when something affects the miracle of my mundane, something I’m consistantly writing about, I do feel the need to post it. That’s the only reason it was here. I am embarrassed about Tuesday night. And I don’t fault you for not following anymore. And I totally get that this post was out my usual form. And I’m sorry to see you go.

  • Nothing common or ordinary about the entire process during this election. I am old, my children grown and my eldest of nine grandchildren a Captain in the USAF. Her husband deployed to the sand this week for six months. One set of standards for the first two months. One can only wonder what the final four months will bring.

    Do not be embarrassed by Tuesday my friend, be embarrassed by what lies within the beltway.

    On this Veterans Day, Semper Fi from this old Marine

  • “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” » Jimi Hendrix

  • These are indeed dark days, but our country has survived for 240 year, through attacks on our soil by our former imperialist rulers, through silvery Nd civil war, through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, through two world wars, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War, Three Mile Island, Regan, George W Bush, J-Li, and Beyoncé. We will get through this. It will be messy. A lot of hopes will not be fulfilled. A lot of dreams will be crushed. But we will survive this national travesty and come out a stronger nation.

    Or we may be witnessing the fall of the US Empire.

    Either way, buckle up and stay sober.

  • Momentous and troubling times we live in. Good to read you again, Mark, I’ve been in Zimbabwe and without Internet. New blog Coming through which is pretty much the same as the old blog Letting Go.

    Mary LA
    https://mla5073.wordpress.com/

  • You didn’t lose me!
    xo
    Wendy

  • “I remain blissfully apolitical.” Indeed.

    This reminds me of the quote attributed to Leon Trotsky: You may not like war, but war likes you.

    Politics is immensely important because it affects most everything in our lives. One ignores it as his peril. Ask Venezuelans, Cubans, North Koreans, even Greeks.

    As you may have noticed elsewhere, I am a Trump fan. And according to polls in the last week, people are warming up to him, post-election. He used a cudgel to get nominated and elected. It was effective and necessary because his opponent and her minions, especially them, threw everything at him, to no avail ultimately.

    I am optimistic. I recommend you be optimistic too.

    • Hi Felipe. I appreicate you reading and commenting on the post. Especially someone with diferring opinions. I lost a couple of followers because of this post. And that’s fine. I’m an informed voter. Not a Trump fan, not a Hillary fan. I voted 3rd party in the hopes that a 3rd party could receive the 5% of the popular vote needed to receive federal funding in the next election. What didn’t feel democratic about this process is being forced to decide between two (in my opinion) unapealing leaders. And what’s more, my decision would then camp me at one extreme of an American divide or the other.
      I’m not an optimistic about human nature, however. I believe humans will not do the right thing unless we’re educated in what the right thing is, and why the right thing is important. I’m a Hobbsian in that sense. That’s why I chose to be a teacher, believing the best way to change the world is show young people the right way to do things. I absolutely maintain my hope that good is in the future. And I will raise my children proudly in America.
      And I will always, always, welcome the opinion of others on this site! I enjoyed the discussion you brought to the table! Thank you for your visit and your insight.

  • Enjoyed your commentary. You put into words what so many of us are feeling. I’d like to know though, on what planet is this man considered a Christian?

    While people unfollowed and unfriended each other in the social network universe because of the election, I tried to hold fast and be tolerant of differing views.

    I failed. Someone I knew long before the Internet became a way of life, felt the need to post why she was voting for that guy. Any other time, it would have been something I read, then forgot about. But each of her eight bullet points were ‘based’ in Christian principles. Scriptures were cherry-picked…and incorrectly applied. I told her this via a private message. She responded that I could not COMPREHEND true Christianity because I was HINDERED by my race.

    *Initiate Unfriend Sequence*

    She had to go…without another word. I grew tired decades ago of people twisting Christianity to make themselves feel pious and comfortable. Now they’ve elected this man…who is the antithesis of all things spiritual.

    I’m following the humor of it all – my blood pressure doesn’t need the hit. 😉

    • Thank you for your thoughtful commentary. I appreciated reading your experience during this election, particularily how it was affected by social media.

      I guess I call him a Christian because Christian votes carried him to the presidency. It’s a strange thing, as you so articulately mentioned in your comment. That was hilarious by the way “initiate unfriend sequence” I was laughing out loud when I read that.

      I also do not like how we’re forced on one side of this fence or the other. It doesn’t feel democratic. And that’s what scares me. I invite you to read my follow up post, “the urge to comprehend” which was sort of a reflection on this reflection.

      I hope I don’t come across as one pushing their Christian values on you and other readers, because I identify that as a uniquely un-Christian thing to do. And I welcome, always your thoughts and opinions on this website!

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