Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Can history happen without anyone noticing?

If a tree falls and no one is there to hear, does it make a noise?  And, if historic events fall on deaf ears and uncaring history made at all?

We stand now at a crossroads of history.  In a tiny march of days, either we'll have the first female president in U.S. history, or...we go backwards, perhaps.  We succumb to cynicism, hatred and complete and utter loss of faith in our system and our way of life.  "Make America Great Again," is the rallying cry of the madman leading the opposition to reality.  No specific date is offered as to when exactly America stopped being great. Though, one suspects that crowd sees it as the day we elected a black president.  That was the day they started dressing up in colonial Halloween costumes and screaming about the Constitution.  Something they never seem to give a damn about when phones are being tapped or people are being tortured in secret prisons.  Only when a black man sits in the White House.  They compared Obama with Hitler, supposedly because they didn't like his healthcare plan.  A convenient way to vent their racist fury without admitting (even to themselves perhaps) the true source of their anger.  Obama's election was a moment in history they desperately tried to drown out with background static and period costumes.  They wanted to bury the true meaning of that election with petty grievances that couldn't in a million years elicit such fury with a white president at the center of it.

So it is now with this election.  The fact we could have our first female head of state is buried under petty gripes about emails and dusty law files.  The election of Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Presidency could be a moment in history, yet the forces of reaction, cynicism and moral despondency insist on seeing it as "more of the same".  "Business as usual."  They have lost faith in America's system of government, so they would elect a brutish clown, a testosterone-driven Neanderthal who plays on their fear and hatred of the outsider.  Their fear of the future most of all.  Those who embrace Donald Trump as the symbol of yesterday's American dream revitalized...the white, cigar-chewing, swaggering, arrogant dominant male American dream... are like children afraid of change, afraid of growth, afraid of the future.  They want to escape into the past.  More than that, they simply refuse to acknowledge that they live and breathe a moment of American history.  Our first woman President.  They don't dare to see her that way.  They hide behind cheap shots and name-calling rather than see the bigger picture.

That's not to say we should want to elect just any woman to the presidency, of course.  But, it does mean something.  It means we as a people haven't given up on the future.  It means we can take a step forward, as we did with Obama.  It means we haven't given up hope in the capacity of societies to grow and improve.

The Trump campaign is rebellion against reality.  Against the future.  Against our maturation as a people and as a nation.  Adolescent escapism in the form of a misogynistic, racist, dirty old man out of the past.  Trump feeds our darker angels, our fear and bigotry and xenophobia and misogyny, yet he hides it skillfully behind locker room insolence and petty gripes.  With him, the angry white male gets to indulge his hatred without really acknowledging it.  The enemy is always external, always in the ill-defined form of rigged systems and nameless, faceless corruption.  It's never about race or gender.

But, let's face it:  It damn well always is.  What happens next will, one way or the other, change the course of history.  The question is, will anybody notice?


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