The countdown is on to Tuesday’s general election and like most of the rest of the nation I am glad this is over. Although listening to the last days’ rhetoric, whoever wins, the other side is going to ‘take up arms’ and there will be trouble. I can only hope the election process will be calm and people will be allowed to vote in a way that has always been a symbol of pride to the rest of the world.
Whenever I have voted I have always been pleased to be a part of a 250 year process that has been a model. It saddens me beyond measure to hear people talk about what they will do to thwart that process. The long litany of candidates demonizing the opposition has not been good for the country. Because of fear of the “other”, power and control have become the watch-words of the day. It reminds me of reading about the Anschluss in Austria, when the Nazis appealed to the Germans living in Austria to vote to unify. Many of the characteristics of that election have surfaced in our own country -- white supremacy, anti-Semitism, intimidation and outright violence.
The idea that “it can’t happen here” is not a slogan we can take up if we are to protect our rights and freedoms. The struggle does not end with the election. I am afraid it has just begun and we are going to have to challenge those who would take our freedoms away from us.
Pandering to the lowest level of thinking as well as turning on those of a different color or gender or religious persuasion, is some place I don’t want to go to. It is fear that drives us to these levels.
I recently read an enlightening op-ed piece in the New York Times that talked about the world phenomena of white fear. “Whiteness” it said has been for centuries not only a skin color, but has been a cultural right, down to the church we attend, the food we eat and the way we live. It reminds me of the colonial period when the white races went into Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East to rule over the indigenous people. To read about the British in India, for example, is to see the worst kind of ‘white’ thinking. We have long moved beyond a time when one race is superior to another. We all live on this little speck of dust whirling through the universe together and we have to make it work. It takes compromise and respect. You are not going to “pound” your rightness into someone else.
I believe in civic duty and I hope I practice good citizenship. I voted early. I encourage everyone to vote. It hasn’t been the best year for stellar candidates, but we cannot abandon the process which was written into our Constitution. No, I don’t feel good about where we’ve been the last months, but I do believe in the foundations of our society and pray the cracks that have run through it this year will not weaken what we have accomplished since the words, “We, the people of the United State of America”, were penned.