To celebrate my 40th birthday, my husband surprised me with a long weekend away in a cabin located in the literal middle of nowhere. Any other weekend, I would have been ecstatic to unplug, but this weekend just happened to be the one where the 2020 Presidential Election dragged on (and on), and we were waiting on key states’ votes to roll in. I had been
invested in passionate about completely obsessed with the election, but any hope of staying connected rested squarely on the rabbit-ears of the only television’s only news channel, C-SPAN: today’s news, tomorrow.
To distract me from the election chaos, the kids and I took a walk in the woods.
“Hey! It’s huntin’ season ya know!”
A man dressed in head-to-toe fluorescent orange approached us. “We look better in yellow!” I joked, tugging on the sleeve of my son’s bright lemon-hued hoodie. As the man and I chatted, I learned he had retired to this remote part of Pennsylvania from New Jersey to “get away from it all.” He smiled proudly as he gestured toward his chicken coop and goats, then asked where we were from. The second I said “the Pittsburgh area,” his friendly demeanor changed.
He began berating Allegheny County: “you are the reason Trump’s votes aren’t being counted!” My kids, aware of my feelings on the subject, implored me with their eyes to STFU. I didn’t have a chance to get a word in anyway because the man prattled on: “If Trump loses this election, there will be a civil war. You mark my words! CIVIL WAR! Biden’ll see what happens if he comes for my guns!”
Aaaaand that’ll do it. We politely excused ourselves and continued our walk, decidedly in the opposite direction of our new friend.
Fast forward two months and Trump is laying out the welcome mat for his brainwashed mob, encouraging homegrown terrorists to storm the Capitol in support of his counting tantrum. I searched every image for the face of the man we met in the woods that day. When I had to explain the situation to my kids, my oldest daughter also remembered him, asking: “Is this the civil war he was talking about?”
We saw this coming, right? Things escalated exactly as we expected them to after years of the Trump administration and his delusional supporters throwing gasoline on the embers, raping our American values and hijacking the ideals with which so many of us used to identify. Entitled people feel slighted so of course the results are violence and mayhem! Another personal result? I’ve sadly found myself giving serious side-eye to potentially sus people.
That’s Among Us speak for “suspicious.” You are welcome.
McDonald Trump has unscrupulously redefined things that once represented goodness, at least in my life. He has turned my comforts and communities into agonies and battlefields and because of this, I feel like I’m constantly on the defense. There’s this sick obsession to know “which side” everyone is on. It’s not good, this division that I’m clearly contributing to.
I’ve also had to retrain myself to do the simplest of things like not make assumptions about people. Especially people in red hats. But mostly I have to try really hard not to assume the worst when I hear or see these things…
Bad people have long standing traditions of hiding behind Christianity, exploiting spiritual beliefs for personal gains, which is why many are put off by the mere mention of organized religion in the first place. But from where I’m standing, Christianity should look like acceptance and kindness and love. Then Drumpf took exploitation to new lows with his disingenuous invocation of Scripture, oh and tear-gassing innocent people for a quick photo opp with the Bible. Now when I hear someone say they’re a Christian, I’m inclined to ask: “a normal one or a Trump one?” I hate that so much. My hope is that after January 20th, I won’t concern myself so much with the them vs. us.
After 9/11, Americans embraced our flag, doubling down on the united part of our United States. Thanks to Agent Orange’s presidency, though, the flag devolved into a symbol of exclusion, serving as a reminder that only select Americans are truly welcome in this country. And he didn’t stop there. His racist rhetoric is responsible for the major comeback of the Confederate flag, sending a clear message to non-white Americans regarding what exactly this country considers “great.” I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve been hesitant to fly an American flag on my property for the past four years. That’s not very patriotic, speaking of which…
You’ve probably heard by now: Ivanka Trump referred to the insurrectionists who forced their way into the Capitol as “American patriots.” Since then, right-wing ding bats have bestowed the name upon themselves and their “comrades.” I guess an angry mob of Black and brown people are thugs and should be prosecuted and/or shot while an angry mob of white guys with mullets are patriots. Cool cool. Please excuse me while I vomit in my mouth when I hear the word now.
There is no perfect politician, certainly no perfect political party, but not until Benedict Donald took power did I begin associating the entire Republican Party with unsavory things. I know good and decent people who identify as Republican, so I’m trying really, really hard not to make any broad-sweeping judgement about the party as a whole. The fact that I even have to tell my brain to do this makes me sad.
You know you’ve given yourself whiplash doing a red hat double-take, too.
Too many silly people are confused, believing freedom of speech is the right to say whatever they want with nary a consequence. Oh, sweetie no. There is no tolerance for intolerance that leads to the destruction of (federal!) property and the murder of innocent people. Public platforms are not squelching rights by prohibiting hate speech and calls to action that result in danger, violence, or death; they are saving lives and doing so within everyone’s Amendment rights. Even though the extreme right tries to manipulate the meaning of intolerance to support their hateful agenda, I repeat: sweetie, no.
I am fully aware that I write this from a place of privilege, where my ideals are the only things that have been threatened under the “leadership” of President Cheeto. Current events have proven how very different my story would be if I were a Black man, woman, or child. My ideals would be the least of my worries if I were a member of, not just an ally to, the LGBTQI community. To some, my sad experiences are nothing more than champagne problems and I respect that.
Still, they’re worth sharing if for no other reason than to point out the insidious nature of how four-years’ worth of vile words from an elected leader in a position of power and prominence can, in fact, threaten democracy. It also shows that maybe I’m no better than those who watched a few YouTube videos and now believe Tom Hanks eats babies. Maybe I’ll be branded a snowflake for feeling this way, but that’s okay. I have a feeling our history books may redefine snowflake and the next generation will learn a true American patriot is one who holds their president to higher standards than the playground bully.