“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
-George Santayana (1905)
Actually, I didn’t really say anything before about this election – at least not on this blog. Yeah I have had a few a tiffs with relatives about the election, but that’s normal, right?
I actually wasn’t going to say anything at all. But, if you’re wondering: yes, I voted Hillary, most of my white American family voted Trump, and my Latino family (I’m quite sure) voted mainly Hillary. I come from Indiana….don’t be surprised.
In the end Hillary won the popular vote but Trump, more importantly, won the electoral votes. Well, they don’t technically vote until December, but whatever. I respect how our election process works; it has worked quite well for us the last 240 years (this anomaly has only ever happened four other times in our nation’s history). He won, the rural Americans have made their voices heard so the other half should listen. But they shouldn’t forget that he still lost the popular vote, which means the other side shouldn’t be ignored either.
I had planned on not writing anything yesterday, but today I had an itch to do so and I thought, oh what the hell – I will just start typing and see where the fuck this goes.
When I came home from work yesterday, crestfallen at yesterday’s election results – I came a cross a random Facebook post among a sea of others riddled with emotions about being shocked, scared, sad, as well as a few smug remarks. It was a reminder about Kristallnacht – or the English name: The Night of Broken Glass.
For those of you who do not know about Kristallnacht: It was a pogrom (violent riot aimed at the massacre or persecution of an ethnic or religious group) against Jews all over Nazi Germany from November 9 – 10 in 1938. These acts of violence was carried out not only by German citizens but by the Sturmabteilung (or simply the Nazi military).
I read this and I got a small chill down my spine. But I pushed it down. I know I had made comparisons of Trump making a lot of similar campaign promises as Hitler did when he rose to power to relatives before…but you can’t deny that even the economic climate was the same: people had lost their jobs, there was a balance of trade deficit and their country was having to pay back reparations after losing World War I (as per the Treaty of Versailles in 1919) – replace that with the current Rust Belt in job loss, NAFTA in trade deals, and NATO/China/Japan/South Korea in payment in that order and you can see some similarities
The people also felt lost and disenfranchised.
Hitler promised economic growth for the country and bringing back jobs. And he did: he created VW car industry as well as the Autobahn and other public projects to improve the infrastructure of Germany. Sound familiar?
People also needed an outlet for their anger – how could such a tragedy happen to such hard working people? Hitler rallied the people in mutual hatred of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and criminals. Replace Jews with Muslims, Gypsies with immigrants in general, Gays…with gays, and criminals with Mexicans (because remember, Mexico only sends their worst people). Sound familiar?
Hitler also demanded that the Jews wear something to make it obvious of their religious affiliation – it started with a Star of David on their clothing and eventually turning it into tattoos. Again: replace Jews with Muslims….sound familiar?
I only say this because for years, I had always heard people wonder how could a country vote in someone like Hitler to run a country? Well, the political and economical climate of the time had led the middle class to suffer and they were desperate for a leader to help make their country great again. Is this freaking you out yet?
Ok, so if you have gotten this far – I am not trying to convince you not vote for Trump. That ship has fucking sailed. In all honesty, I really do hope he turns out to be a decent president. I love my country and I do want it to do well – even if I am not living there now. I am just trying to show you not only how the other side feels (by other side, I really mean also Germans) – but that our fear is not irrational. I understand why people in my family voted for Trump – I sat down and talked with a few them (yes it is possible to talk with people with differing view points!) But while I do respect their decision and their vote – I hope to also receive that same respect and not be met with a huff and an eye roll. If we are to heal as a nation – both sides need to extend hands and try to understand each other. Two completely different conversations are going on in our country right now – but we can find some common ground. And trying to save the middle class is a good start (in case you are looking for a topic).
My niece, Alli, wrote a lovely note about the same subject. She is only 17 and was unable to vote this time around (though she did admit to wanting to vote for Trump – just trying to make the point that while we may differ in terms of candidates, I respect her opinions and choices) but she made this point:
“…You can argue popular vote doesn’t matter, but if it didn’t matter, it wouldn’t happen. We can not afford to sit down and refuse to budge just because our candidates for President, House, or Senate did not get elected in. Time will not stop and the universe will not align to bring you the miracle you may be expecting. No matter the outcome of any conflict, America needs to prove resiliant (sic) and proud and UNITED, not divided, vulnerable, and prideless (sic). No matter who you support, stand up, swallow your pride and your ego and come together to do something good for this great country of ours.”
She is hella bright and will certainly go far in life, I have no doubt. I went to bed last night with real hope of the future because of her. If all Americans can think like that – we have a shot.
Fast forward to my drive home from work today. My Facebook news feed is currently blowing up with sick individuals who are using Trump’s behavior during the campaign as a green light to grope women, harass Latinos, POC, and gays. And I don’t even want to start with what my teacher friends are saying about what their students are repeating in class (and some of those kids are only in 2nd grade, geez!)
Also, the other side is not helping with riots and also beating Trump supporters. I understand you are upset (I know, I have a half empty bottle of rum next to me right now and I bought it yesterday). But this was also the same group of people who gasped in shock when Trump claimed that if he lost – he would also riot. But at the same time – go practice your first amendment right!
Anyway, my mind went back to the Pogrom post from the day before. Our country is VERY deeply divided and I have prayed to all the gods I possibly could (sacrificing a few lambs and virgins in the process) that we will be able to find a way back from this. But I fear we will have more Nights of Broken Glass before it gets better. But I really do hope that we are not repeating history here. We really do need to prove that we are better than that.
You will have to forgive my skepticism concerning our future. I have spent years watching similar populist leaders also in Latin American politics (both studying them in school and seeing them firsthand in Peruvian politics so it’s not all about Adolf) and I have seen so many times how they are great with words and big promises but once they have power…meh. I spent years as a Fujimorista, I was dazzled by the rags to riches story of Alejandro Toledo, horrified by the election that was Humala vs Garcia, and I laughed endlessly at the memes that were all “No a Keiko.” I follow the current Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on Facebook. I have high hopes for this dude….but I am still skeptical.
Overall, I hope that I am proven wrong when it comes to Trump. I have always found our country great to begin with and it didn’t need to be made so ‘again.’ However, we are definitely in need of some TLC and unity to get through this and come back on top. Because it’s not worth the destruction of my country just to say “I hate to say I told you so.”