Life Stories

A United or Divided America

This “editorial” will be met one of three ways dependent upon who is reading it, one will embrace it, one will despise it and yet another will feel indifference. I (now) have been all of those with the last one describing much of my political existence as an adult.

Generally, each voting year I would ask Bruce who I should vote for because, in truth, I trusted his ideas, ideals, and knowledge within a realm I cared little for. That is how I voted until Barrack Obama’s second term when I decided on my own and different from many others around me and voted for him for a second term. In truth, I knew little about his policies but what I embraced was his fortitude towards his family. He held his wife Michelle and their daughters in such high regard and with the utmost respect that I felt strongly that we needed him as our president. I loved the message it sent to America. I cared nothing about his skin color, in fact, unless I was reminded I did not even realize it. In my eyes, he was a “good man”, most definitely not perfect, as none of us are, but his morality and connection to the majority of Americans were real and palpable.

Then came 2016, and the election that changed everything I had once known about my political bubble that I so comfortably lived within. When I first heard that Donald Trump was running for president, I thought it a joke; little did I realize he would actually win that election. I like to think that if he ran against anyone else, he would never have been granted the seat that is often described as the most important position in the world. Yet, here we are in 2020, and once again, we are faced with an election that will define who we are truly are within this great country.

Within my 50 years, I have never witnessed the incivility of our nation as I do today. The divide is everywhere. The socioeconomic and cultural crisis is abounding with real consequences on the line. The truth is that unless we calm this nation, our nation, we are headed for even more desperate times that, in some ways, forecast further civil unrest and civil war.

We do not understand that term here in the United States. The American Civil War is history to us, something foreign and ambiguous; yet it is within the realm of possibility. Today we have rioting in the streets, plots to overthrow government offices, conspiracy theories abound, and political unrest unseen in the modern era.

This cannot be blamed on one person; this is America’s problem. Donald Trump brought the problems to the point of no return with his inept aptitude for holding the most prominent and important office in our nation, and the world. D. Trump will go down as the worst president in modern history. Truth be told, he cannot fix our nation’s problem because he has become its greatest problem.

My sister Dawn asked me the other day why I don’t like Trump and why I am a “democrat”? In truth, I am not a republican or a democrat; I have always been “middle of the road” with a slight tendency to the right, though as I have aged, my views on matters such as abortion and my understanding of gay and lesbian rights have expanded. Abortion, for me, is less of an issue when you consider that as a nation and a world do not care for the children that are already here and left homeless, neglected, abused, forced to early labor, and forgotten. Once I was probably considered homophobic, but today, the best people I know are gay and lesbian, which is simply the truth. What do I care about what people do and who they love, and who am I to judge? Further, whether we want to believe it or not, healthcare lacks for most of the population, such as it did for my family growing up. My dad was a farmer and loved every bit of it, though he was by all accounts “poor,” and healthcare was a luxury. We grew up on medical assistance. I do not understand the intricacies of healthcare and economics; however, I do understand that people should have the right to healthcare. And even further, we are truly harming our planet, global warming is real, and currently, we need to try to turn the tide from complete ecosystem destruction. But those are for another editorial.

The main argument from the conservative side is that we are losing sight of God and religion within this country, but I would argue that if God created us, then he created us to have the ability to be varied in our faith. If we argue that there is a God (and my personal belief is that I sure hope there is), then I believe that God did not create the prejudice to dictate how we practice (or not practice) that faith. We, as humans, did that. We (Humans) organized religion into the money-making industry that it is. The God I believe in created us to be moral, kind, loving and care for each other. I would also argue that attending church does not make you a good person or better; many people worldwide are not lucky enough to even know what a church is, and yet their faith is not any less. In fact, I would argue that God would embrace them even more so. To be clear, Donald Trump does not attend church, nor has he ever read the Bible, as described by those that know him best.

Let’s discuss my son Darien. I would refer to him as agnostic. He was raised Catholic and did all the things that entail being catholic while dutifully learning the Bible. He was christened and confirmed within the Catholic religion, but today, he chooses his own path. My only concern is that he is morally good, compassionate, and is a steward to help those that need our help. He is all of those. He has helped people emotionally, physically, and economically. His choice to be agnostic does not make him less worthy of God or a heavenly afterlife; it is who he is as a person while he walks here on Earth that determines that.

So for those reasons, I choose to support a president that supports those same ideals.

Donald Trump is not that person.

Donald Trump has supported extremist groups and furthered the conflict within one of the world’s most diverse countries. He has stoked prejudices and mastered social media to flame conspiracy theories that are beyond realistic comprehension. Before Trump, I had never heard the term “fake news,” but he has not only coined it, but he has made it a rallying cry for his league of followers. We literally witnessed the murder of a (black) man on television because of supremacist ideation and a president unwilling to denounce brute force and retaliation. And to be clear, we need police, sheriff, and law enforcement everywhere. What do we have if not them to protect us? To denounce an entire profession because some are ill-equipped, ill-minded, or problematic is not the answer. To be even further clear, I believe that far-right and far-left radical groups need to be denounced; that is NOT who we are!

And while I am on my soapbox, ALL LIVES MATTER!

America has long-established working alliances with foreign powers that have taken decades to build, which Trump has demolished in just four years while embracing leaders such as NK Kim Jong-un and Putin…and let’s be clear, they are autocratic countries. Trump supports these leaders.

I think of my dad, the working-class man that Trump said he would support when running for office, the same working class that he has forgotten as he has championed for his wealthy friends and himself. His taxes tell a story of a man on the edge of an economic crisis which is clinging desperately to the presidency to try to glean another four years while he tries to salvage his business(es) by passing laws and deregulating existing laws that enhance profitability and wealth to the top 1%. This administration has overrun the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they no longer can protect us, the consumers. The Environmental Protection Plan has basically been dismantled because Trump views it as an inconvenience and an untruth. He refuses to believe in the science that shows that our planet is in trouble.

And speaking of science. COVID-19. To date, there have been more than 8 million cases, with more than 220,000 deaths. People will read this and think nothing of that, but some people will read this and cry. Those are the people that have lost loved ones to this pandemic (yes, it is a pandemic). I look at those numbers, and I know that I was one of those more than 8 million cases, and for more than 5 months, it very much dictated the direction of my life, affecting my health, work, and life, for the worse. I am lucky; I managed through it, as did my family members.

I have been more than disgruntled and frustrated with how the Trump administration has handled this but to be fair, this is unprecedented in modern times. With that mindset, who could not cut the president some slack? But the problem is not that idea; it is that he has fervently denied the virus as a problem and something that is “no big deal.” When he contracted COVID-19, I won’t lie, I had hoped he would get so sick that he would still be laid up in an ICU somewhere, fighting for his life, like so many others have had to do. I wanted him to experience the illness as we did, scared, unsure, and living through the hell that he termed “no big deal.” Instead, at the first sign of trouble, he was taken to the hospital, given the latest round of treatment that included Regeneron, plasma, and high dose steroids, something that is not offered to the general public (unless they are critical). No, he did not “test a treatment” for his people; I am tired of hearing that. He benefited from being the president and having the best healthcare options at a time in the pandemic when we have learned much more (though we still have much to learn). The same pandemic that he has consistently downplayed as a threat to society.

But back to my point, American civil society and its foundations were already in trouble before 2016. However, under Trump’s leadership, that very same society has become even more polarized, more paranoid, and angrier and mean. He has been openly contemptuous of expert opinion (data and science) and prefers his own ideas. There is much to digest, and I cannot dictate four years of mayhem into one editorial.

Donald Trump is not the only American President to make catastrophic decisions; we have witnessed them previously. Nixon and Watergate, Reagan and his ignorance of the AIDS epidemic, Clinton and his impeachment, and Bush went to war under false pretense. However, in a few short years, Donald Trump has managed to outstrip all of those blunders and done the one most unconscionable thing; he has continually violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the UNITED States by protecting its citizens.

The presidency of Andrew Jackson comes to light, and F Douglass’s quote is most applicable, “we ought to have our government so shaped that even when in the hands of a bad man, we shall be safe.”

In this moment in our country, we are not safe.

We are not safe from each other, we have never been more divided.

We are not safe from other countries because, during times of (country) unrest, we are at our most vulnerable to terrorism.

We are not safe from nature. Science tells us that we need to proceed with caution and heed expert opinion to safeguard each other from a foe that does not care about our political affiliation. COVID-19 is here to stay, and on its heels will be another supervirus, along with normal virus and bacterial infections. I feel as though Mother Nature is telling us to get our act together, and I am thinking we should listen.

American democracy dictates that the health of the republic rests on its people, the voters. We are in the midst of our most desperate hour. I believe that is not being dramatic; it is simply realistic. We need to calm this American storm that is engulfing this country to negative effects. The American people are ONE, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, or belief. We were meant to be a country that welcomed those that were persecuted, exiled, or immigrated for a better life. That IS the American dream.

This election is not about being a Democrat or a Republican; it is about being American and voting for the safety of all!

My last thought ends with my dad, Darryl O Anderson. I have tried hard to not allow my personal distaste for Trump cloud my discussions about politics, but I often find myself defending why I dislike him so much….and here is why.

What would dad do? I believe with all my heart that he never would have voted for Donald Trump, not ever….and for one simple reason. In 2016, his derogatory view of women would have turned away my dad. You see, dad was far from perfect, something that nearly drove him mad at the end of his life because he realized that he was out of time to (Re)do the things that he viewed he failed at. The one thing he never failed at was instilling in me and my 3 sisters, Rox, Dawn, and Ally the idea that we were strong, beautiful women who could do ANYTHING! In truth, and this is no exaggeration, I never heard my dad speak badly of anyone, even those that he had reason to speak badly about, at least not to his children. The way that Trump talked to and about women prior to even becoming elected would have been an insult to everything that my dad did to build up his own daughters. Even though the ideas that Trump touted would have been intriguing to my independent-minded dad, he was set in a few firm beliefs.

One, he was pro-earth before it was cool to be so. He knew that the herbicides, pesticides, and such that he used on his crops were not good for the soil, seed, and food. I remember the day he showed me the difference in “virgin” dirt (in our forest) compared to the dirt in our fields routinely used for crop growth. It was eye-opening. He lamented that he was trying to use “natural” products, but they were more expensive than the artificial weed control products that he could already barely afford. Yet, he would buy them when he could. He also knew that one day he would pay the ultimate price for his farming and the chemicals that he was routinely subjected to, and he was right.

Two. He believed that everyone should have access to healthcare because people wouldn’t go to the doctor without it. My dad was one of them. People can judge and say that he should’ve had a job with benefits (he did for a time), but being an independent small farmer left him with only vastly expensive options decades ago, which meant we had medical assistance. Also, back then, that carried a certain amount of embarrassment. Dad never went to the doctor because he was always working to make ends meet, and because he could not afford otherwise, maybe his fault and maybe not, but regardless, it most likely cost him his life at the young age of 63.

Third, Trump would never understand the working man because he never came from it; sure, some ancestor built the empire that he would inherit somewhere in Trump’s lineage. However, he would never know what it meant to create such a legacy, one that he will destroy because he lacks one important foundation, understanding. Many politicians are most likely in this same genre, but Trump is even more naive to the plight of those he made promises to but never kept.

Fourth. Taxes. They killed my dad financially. He spent YEARS paying the government back after his catastrophic farming situation, years! We were already desperately poor and yet, he paid his taxes! Then there is the Donald who does everything he can to avoid paying his….I will just end that thought here.

And the last one, and the most important. My dad understood loss. The kind of loss that would destroy most men. First, a wife to a chronic illness, and his first-born premature infant son. Then economic loss, a profitable farming business that saw catastrophic losses that he could not recover from—finally, a challenging second marriage but a love for his children kept him engaged in the failed marriage. And finally, the untimely, sudden, and devastating loss of his 22-year-old son in a car accident, that was, in many ways, something he could never process and never overcome. Donald Trump understands NONE of this. He could never relate to my dad.

I imagine my dad having a conversation with these two candidates: Trump and Biden. For my dad and Trump, there would be no common ground, none. I imagine the word awkward coming to mind as they would struggle for conversation.

However, if Joe Biden were to sit with my dad I envision them around the kitchen table, drinking coffee in my grandma’s kitchen, discussing the land, life, and loss, together as two old boys would do.

That barometer is the one I will use to cast my vote in a few short weeks.

I know Ole Joe isn’t perfect, nether was my dad but I can imagine very vividly that in different times and circumstances they could have been friends.

I acknowledge that those that read this will have varying opinions and I accept that. Even within my own family we are divided (as we have never been before)! BUT always we LOVE each other, even though we may want to also punch one another (ever siblings ya’ know!) 🙂

I write this to ask that each of us put aside pride and look to the heart of our country and our current state of being. The current racial division, economic inequity, derogatory communication, ineptitude for science, and sporadic government leadership are crippling our great country. Trump had his chance to “make America great again,” he has failed. It’s not great. We are in big trouble that we may not overcome if this country is not brought back together again, even while we work to fix the fractures that are now evident within our society!

America is far from great and let that be your barometer in this next election.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.