It’s election night. I voted on my way home from work. My daughter, who is a freshman away at college, voted for the very first time today. She was pretty excited about it. She now has a speaking role in our democracy. That’s a pretty big deal when you stop to think about it. Her role now is the same as mine and yours. She’s the future. And I trust her judgement.
The polls will be closing in about 30 minutes. Like most I’ll be following the results….taking deep breaths and maybe deeper gulps, hoping that our form of government is elastic enough to bounce back from the barrage of distortions, racism, misogyny, outright lies, and general tomfoolery it’s been subjected to this entire election cycle. I have to believe that it is. I won’t be the guy who thinks a narcissistic asshole with a bad comb-over can destroy a republic. I would, however, forgive you if you thought otherwise.
My polling place was filled up….but quiet. Everybody went about their business. No nonsense. Orderly. Polite. As I deposited my ballot into the machine the volunteer stationed at the door said “thank you”. I smiled at him and said…”right back at you”. I had to park maybe a hundred yards away because of the crowds. I walked on the fallen leaves on purpose, like a kid, kicking them up in the air….the unseasonably warm breeze providing a lift. One could almost forget, in the midst of such serenity, that our nation is teetering on a moral precipice.
I’ll admit that I’m not much of a hater. In times such as these this puts me at a social disadvantage at least. While others are railing about killer immigrants and welfare cheats and kneeling uppity NFL Quarterbacks, I have little to add to the conversation. The only people I don’t like are the ones who treat me shitty…and I take these people as they come at me, one at a time. I do not judge a group or a race as a whole because that would make me a pea-wit. That’s not the way I was raised. And it’s not the way I raise my own children.
I’m not much of a cynic either, because only those who don’t have the balls to strive valiantly into the arena have time for something as vapid and cheap as cynicism. The only people who get rocks thrown at them are the ones who stick their heads above the parapet….which is easy to forget if all you’ve been worrying about is finding the stones with the jagged edges that can do the most damage….and your plan is to toss them from the cowardly safety-net of the mob.
Sometimes the hardest part of my day is listening to the hatred spewed by others and trying not to get lock-jaw.
Where does it come from?
Hate springs from fear. And too often fear is driven by ignorance. And increasingly as a nation the more ignorant we are, the more sure of our own ground we become . It doesn’t matter that more people die falling out of bed every year than die from Islamic terrorism, or that immigrants aren’t taking your jobs away or that nobody is coming for your fucking guns. It doesn’t matter that election fraud is virtually non-existent. The truth has become pesky, like flies at a barbecue. The truth has become a distraction. It gets in the way of the agenda we’ve become slaves to. It’s “us versus them” for a reason. If you can’t blame somebody all you got left is what staring back at you in that mirror. Americans are good at lots of things, but self-reflecting ain’t one of them.
And so it goes. Tonight puts the period at the end of very long sentence. Which way will we go?
I’ll wake up tomorrow and my goals will remain the same. I’ll continue to strive to be a good man. A good friend. A good father. A good neighbor. A good musician. A good songwriter. If somebody falls I’ll help ’em up and if I fall and somebody offers me a hand I’ll take it and say thank you. In short, I’ll do whatever possible to not be a dick. The golden rule, simplified.
I hope to continue to be bad at hating.
I hope my new President strives for the same things. It’s no longer just about America. It’s about the inherent decency, and/or indecency, of Americans. You can’t lead from behind, and I fear we’re in danger of setting the clocks back 50 years.
Think I’m overstatin’?
In a bit..