Aftermath

Here are a couple of thoughts, one written by my son Woodrow, the other written by a friend, a white guy with an adopted son.

A Political Revolution

It was a cool Thursday evening in Carson as Mom and I got out of the car outside the LA Galaxy Stadium. We were surrounded by a sea of cars, and had to do a little bit of maneuvering to get to the gargantuan line that stretched from one end of the stadium around to the other end. But soon enough, we managed to pass security and take a seat in a small stadium within the Galaxy Stadium. There, my mother and I had the opportunity to listen to man named Bernard Sanders rant away at the establishment, demand a higher minimum wage, and call people to action for a more progressive agenda. This is what he dubbed the political revolution, and the invigorated crowd cheered him on, hoping to see him catapulted to the office of the presidency.

But when July came and the final results of the primaries were tallied up, it was clear that ol’ Bernie wasn’t going to make it to the White House. For many people who had supported him, it was over; the political revolution was in its death throes.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not just over whether the political revolution was still alive, but also over what the political revolution actually is.

For a lot of people, the political revolution was voting for Bernie and then putting him in the White House. After that, everyone and the country would live happily ever after.

Wrong.

The political revolution that Bernie was calling for was more than about free healthcare, free tuition, and a habitable environment. It was more than just electing Bernie to the presidency. At its core, it was, and still is, about getting those who are young to go out and be engaged in the political process. Not just reading the news and voting, but actually getting up off their butts and going outside to register others to vote or to canvass neighborhoods. Not just holding opinions, but also sharing those views with others and participating in meaningful discussions with people that you don’t know. Not just being political, but being politically active.

So when I came to UCSB just a couple of months ago, I found myself in an environment devoid of anyone telling me what to do (except for the R.A.s telling people not to drink or smoke) and with a bunch of time on my hands.

During Welcome Week, I visited a lot of the booths and looked at nearby events and happened to receive a flyer about a group called Campus Democrats and also information about an event at their headquarters; I was further emboldened to go after talking to a person named Ethan at one of the tables. So I did.

And next thing I knew, I was walking throughout Isla Vista with a clipboard and a bunch of literature in my hand, asking people if they’ve registered to vote and if they know anything about the local measures and local races.

So that’s what I did for more than a month: I went from house to house and talked with people. Some days I only worked for two hours; on election day I worked from 5AM to 8PM. It was by this time that I figure out for myself the meaning of Bernie’s political revolution: I was taking in part of it, along with the other dedicated volunteers that I worked alongside with. It was empowering, not just to me, but to others as well because so many people just don’t know how to fill out a voter registration form or where their polling location is. I took solace in knowing that I helped someone’s life out and ensured that their voice was heard.

In hindsight, it was the most rewarding thing that I have ever done in and with my life. Sure, I had a couple of foul people slam the door in my face or argue to me about their proud views of Trump, but for the most part, people were kind, attentive, and most importantly, open. It helped reaffirm my Rousseauist belief that people are born good, and that there was plenty of hope for the future of this country.

Now that belief may have been shaken from the election, in the same way that the political structure of this nation have been shaken, but just like my faith in the republic, I still continue to believe that people are inherently good.

To put it bluntly, a lot of bad shit happened: The GOP has maintained their majority in Congress, the amount of Republican governorships increased, and most frighteningly, we have elected a reality TV star to the office of arguably the most powerful office in the world.

Will this country survive? Yes, but not before having to fight some battles. Despite the unpredictability of Donald Trump and his capability of causing damage to America, I still think and believe that this republic and its institutions are more than sufficient enough to survive the onslaught of problems that will be associated with a Trump presidency.

So now what? Well, I simply invite and encourage anyone to become more politically active than they were this year. If you didn’t vote this year, vote in 2018. If you did vote this year, then volunteer with an organization that does voter registration; even giving up a couple hours of your life will help others cast their ballots and aid in the fight against right-wing extremism. Go out there and talk with people. If there is an issue or issues that you really care about, fight for it. Get up and stand up for your rights. Because this revolution is sure as hell not over.

And for those who think that none of this really matters …

My son and I spent this past weekend camping. We had a nice campfire. We slept in a tent. We explored the woods. We chatted about all kinds of things. Conversations with a 9 year old little boy are wandering paths of questions, non sequiturs, farting, and laughter.

Weekends.

Adventure!

His sisters used to join us. My oldest daughter is gone to college. His other sister is in 8th Grade and is way too cool for us now.

Weekdays during the school year are essentially sequences of uninterrupted routine.  Get up.  Get them up. Make sure they stay up. Make sure they’re dressed and fed. Brush teeth. Comb hair. Find back pack. Go to school. Pick up from school. Run around to activities. Eat. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Repeat x 5.

With kids, though, this routine is noisy. They fight each other. They fight me. They grouse and complain and sigh. Sprinkled in are question, non sequiturs, farting (mostly me), and laughter.

The morning after this election was different. There wasn’t much laughter. My family is very much Democrats. We were all down. I was particularly glum, lost in thoughts for my friends who just lost elections and would be out of a job.

“Dad” I heard my son say. His voice was soft and wavering. I thought he was going to try to console me. He’s a very good, sweet human. He worries about people.

“Dad, do I get to stay in the family?” he asked. I looked at him. I didn’t really understand the question. “Dad” he continued and beginning to cry asked, “Do I have to go back to Guatemala?”

I’ve never experienced a moment like this. The convergence of love, concern, despair, fear, confusion and more love made expression beyond a tight hug impossible.

“Juan, you are my son, tou are Mommy’s son, you are Susan’s brother, you are Ellen’s brother, nobody can pull us apart, we are a family and we will always be a family.”    We repeated these statements together in various ways repeatedly.

“Nobody can send you away.”

Ever.

Somehow my son has managed to pick up the messages I’d hoped he wouldn’t. This election, the news media, this horrible orange human, has broadcast messages that I hoped he’d be oblivious to. No such luck. The message is that Americans are white. They’re angry. They want brown people to “go back.”

Americans want to build a wall to keep brown people out. Brown people are rapists and drug dealers. They’re bad.  My son has been bombarded with this. I love him so much and I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.

My son knows he is loved by his family. He’s scared for the rest of the world.  It seems for good reason, too.

Adopting a child is possibly the most soul expanding endeavor. You learn that you have capacity for love that seemed impossible. You realize that any human, literally anyone, can be your child. The only boundaries that separate us are boundaries we build in our heads. They aren’t real.

But here I am. I’m worried about my little boy. As I worry about my little boy, I worry about all the little boys and girls. I worry about the people whose families can be torn apart by unfeeling immigration policies, by poverty, by violence. Families destroyed, humans rubbed out by the misfortune of being born a shade too dark. These little boys and girls are our kids.

All of them.

All at once.

My boy lives in a mean world. I can’t protect him all by myself. He doesn’t look like me. He was born a beautiful brown hue. He is going to become an adult. He is going to carry as much love into adulthood as I can give him. I’m not sure it will be enough to overcome the hate and suspicion of others, though.

Maybe if you pitch in, too?  Can you help me?  Please?

The guy you see pushing a broom, raking a garden, picking your fruit didn’t steal your job. He’s feeding his family. The woman who cleans your motel room? She’s not stealing anything. She’s trying to live. They’re my children. They’re your children..

I hope you never feel the fear that you will be pulled away from your mom and dad. I hope you never have to console your child who thinks he or she has to leave the only world he’s ever known simply because of where he was born and the color of his skin.

The little boy sleeping under the table at a restaurant while his parents work? Can you please see him as a little guy who loves Legos and Pokemon?  The little “Mexican” you see might be my son. In fact, he is.

And I’m your son, too.

END

14 thoughts on “Aftermath”

  1. From a young woman I have the pleasure of knowing

    I know we’re all tired of politics, but there are some thoughts that I really need to share. Be warned, it’s a little long.

    When I woke up on the morning of the election I honestly thought I would be a part of electing the first woman President of the United States. I was excited. I am currently just very sad and very scared. I’ve been walking around with a thousand-yard stare all day. I, apparently, had a lot of misplaced faith in the people of my country, and it’ll probably take a long time and a lot of thought for me to come to terms with that. But there’s nothing I or anyone else can do about the outcome of the election now. What we can do is keep fighting.We are currently standing on the precipice of what may be four very difficult years for the women, immigrants, Latinos/Latinas, Muslims, African Americans, and LGBTQ people of America. Every single prejudiced, hateful person in America just had their most negative beliefs validated by someone who will soon be the most powerful person in the country. Don’t let the discrimination increase. If you see something, speak up. Don’t just let it happen. If you aren’t going to be hugely affected by the election, then use that privilege to help the people who will be.
    Personally, I am going to keep fighting. It’s tempting to let yourself tune out politics once the election is over or joke about running away to Canada, but if we do that we are setting ourselves up for disaster. Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to think about what matters to you and put your whole heart into it. I can’t help but think that if I had done more than just tweeting and talking about the issues I care about, maybe I could have made a difference, no matter how minuscule. Next time around, I don’t want there to be any doubt in my mind that I did all I could to produce the best outcome for my country.
    I’m going to have to reflect on what it means that almost sixty million people supported the hateful, intolerant platform that he ran on. Because even if you didn’t wholeheartedly agree with his bigotry, a vote for him indicates that it was of so little consequence to you that you could prioritize whatever policy agenda you had over the rights and happiness of your fellow Americans. This is serious. People are terrified and for good reason.
    A week ago none of us could have imagined that someone that hateful could have so much support. But for right now, I’m going to try very hard to focus on the issues that I care about and take whatever small steps I can to make sure that all of the incredible progress we’ve made over the last eight years isn’t destroyed. The rights of so many people that I care about are at risk, so I have to. I’m trying to keep hope in my heart.

    1. I hope that this blog is not an echo chamber. From what I have read of Seth to date, he does not like groupthink,

      I sit here in Canada, you know that place all your Hollywood stars will escape to ANY DAY NOW, but can look at what transpired as an outsider. People are going through the 5 stages of grief right now, so denial and anger at the moment. However, no one or very few are asking the real questions as to why this happened and it has very little to do with Trump,.

      No one is asking why 50 million people held their nose and voted for Trump. To claim that they are all racists is in itself racist. I am pretty sure that there are plenty of black, asian, hispanic, gay, transgender people and everything in between in the Red States,.

      The New York Times finally issued a somewhat lukewarm mea culpa, They were so busy being Team Hillary and painting Trump as a bogeyman, that they were not paying attention to the voters. The old arrogance of the Coastal Elites brushed them off as a bunch of yahoos.

      http://nypost.com/2016/11/11/new-york-times-we-blew-it-on-trump/

      CNN was just as bad. I was watching on Election night. They had a picture of Clinton vs Trump showing the “Showdown” She had a calm look with a half smile on her face, he looked angry. Their results were delayed relative to other sites, so as to hope that it could still be saved in the last hours. Pundits galore on CNN swore it was a Clinton landslide about to happen because who cares what the Red States want and Trump is a bogeyman because we say so.

      Let me be clear, I am no fan of Trump and would never vote for him. Same goes for Clinton though, she was tainted and had too many skeletons.

      Even after the results, Paul Krugman in the New York Times called the Trump voters “white rural” that is redneck farmers. The more they painted the Republican candidate as Hitler, the more those people said, screw you. (I am the son of a survivor of Auschwitz and Mauthausen, I know what Hitler is)

      Some issues I can see that led so many people to demand change even if the candidate was so unfit.

      1) Their economic situation that no one cared about
      2) They see academics that hate America spouting off on what they should think and say, Schools have become a alternate universe of political correctness.)
      3) They see Democrats burning American flags DURING the election, and now they seem them burning flags, destroying property and injuring police because the election did not go their way. The see people calling them racists, nazis, and so on.

      You can’t sneer at a huge percentage of your population and expect them to say thank you.

      All this talk of Trump deporting kids to Guatemala is just fear-mongering. Making your opponent to be a bogeyman is the oldest trick in the book.

      This issue of the arrogance of the elites of the NYT, Washington Post, CNN, Salon etc, has always galled me. These are people who claim to be liberal, open-minded, tolerant, accepting, yet they are as biased as the ones they denigrate.

      So instead of throwing all kinds of labels and accusations that drive the wedge further, people that really want to fix this need to ask why it happened.

      1. Well, it is an echo chamber! But sometimes the echoes don’t agree.

        I can call people racist who voted for Trump. And I am calling them exactly that.

        And I can call this an election decided on race. Because it was.

      2. Not sure why you picked my post to reply to as my post was post of hope in our young people.

        If you would like some facts, some of the facts are that fewer people voted for Trump than previously voted for both McCain, and Romney, so clearly many “Republican” voters either didn’t vote, or voted for 3rd party rather than vote for Trump.

        The sad fact is that many people seemed to stay home, because there was a large fraction of the population that turned out and voted during the previous two election cycles that did not participate this time around, and the results of that are devastating.

        Call it the disenfranchised Bernie voters, or call it what you want, but unfortunately their choice to not participate allowed Trump to win, and his win has made being a racist, bigot, misogynist, intolerant xenophobe acceptable, which it is not. Never was, never will be.

        It will be a long four years, and it will take a generation to recover, from what will go down, but it won’t go down without a fight. We have strong institutions here, and this is still a country where the rule of law prevails regardless of the recent fractures, and we will use the rule of law to protect what can be protected.

  2. Hit home. Not wanting to return to Guatemala… I can relate. Split families… I can relate. Adopted son… I can relate. Family members crying the day after… I can relate. The pleasures – and sometimes fears – of being an activist… I can relate.
    But supporting a machinery like the one party with two names, one beast with two heads, where one gets a choice of getting sweet things whispered in your ear by one of the heads, or a bunch of expletives by the other head, while you get violently raped in the ass… that I don’t understand. That is not revolution.

    1. But supporting a machinery like the one party with two names,

      That isn’t going to be any different this time. Trump can’t fill 1000+ positions with outsiders. And the published economic policies are deflationary. (look up the Kansas experiment)

      The worry is what does the Trump voter do next?

      Meanwhile, the Democratic party would have to burn all their Hollywood/Silicon Valley/Big Money backers. They’ve got 24 short months to do SOMETHING entirely different. I’m not optimistic.

  3. This was a good morning read. In high school, I read John Steinbeck’s “Log from the Sea of Cortez”. A paragraph stuck with me after all these years and I have referred back to it when elections have not gone as I have hoped. It was written in 1951 and for me, still rings true and gives some comfort.

    “Consider the blundering anarchic system of the United States, the stupidity of some of its lawmakers, the violent reaction, the slowness of its ability to change. Twenty-five key men destroyed could make the Soviet Union stagger, but we could lose our congress, our president, and our general staff and nothing much would have happened. We would go right on. In fact we might be better for it.”

  4. We had a chance to vote for the First Woman Black President in 2008 in Cynthia McKinney. Shoulda coulda saved us from 8 years of far right policies masked in centrist, pragmatic, progressive rhetoric. While it could get worse — I don’t see how. After the dust settles, I think Trump will backtrack on a lot of stuff — lilke, “And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.’

  5. As the father of a little girl with special needs, Trump has insulted my life in ways that have cut deep.

    On Jan 20th does she become less human? A second class citizen?

    Or is she safe because she’s white?

    These aren’t questions citizens of a democracy should have to ask themselves.

  6. Let me ask those of you who come to this country and do not take the right path – “who is more equal”? My family came via Ellis island, do you shame and tell them they cannot come? Do you tell them it is your right to do as you please and come as you may? We all want to make it better for our kids but, do we explain the entitlement as an excuse to circumvent law? How do we justify our behavior? Just asking.

    1. 1. You are not more equal than anyone. 2. Once you’re here you will be treated with dignity and justice, no matter how you arrived. 3. No one in any country can “do as they please.” 4. Laws and justice are not entitlements. 5. What behavior?

      Just answering.

  7. “Trump has no filter”….”some people say stupid shit, doesn’t mean they act on it”. These comments along with many others are part of the discussions I’ve had with my wife & her family post-election. My wife and her entire family are from Central Mexico. All came to our United States illegally. Some of them now have full citizenship, some are still here illegally. Regardless of the laws they broke to come here, they have never been treated unfairly by our government. In fact, many years ago when my wife made a poor decision, got in trouble & spent a couple of days in jail, she was not deported, although our government had every legal right to do so. The consequences of her actions & price she paid was the exact same as those of a US citizen, regardless of her being undocumented. Travel is part of my life. When I travel oversea’s or to Mexico I am very much aware of the rules & the laws of the country I am in. I am a visitor with my “visitor visa”, therefore I act accordingly. I do not complain about their rules or protest for change. I integrate. If I overstay my visa in Thailand they will physically remove me from their country. It’s not an if, it’s a certainty. Same in Mexico. If I do not abide by their rules I will go to jail & then will be forced to leave, hopefully. It is not grey, it is very much black & white. Yes our United States has rules, like every Country, but it is how they are enforced that is different. The point is that even those here illegally are afforded great amounts of freedom. I have seen it first hand. I have great faith that this culture does not change based on who leads our country. I guess it could, anything is possible.

    Born in San Diego, raised in Santa Barbara I’m about as “white” as they come. I am the only white person in my wife’s very large, very Mexican family. They love me, I love them regardless of skin color. I will do everything I can to protect them. I will stand by their sides & fight for their rights, as American’s, as Mexican’s, as humans. They would do the same for me. My extended family know’s that I voted for Trump. I told them I will gladly go & help build the wall. I will do anything I can to keep those fucking crazy Americans out of Mexico!

  8. Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion, too
    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace… You…

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one

  9. Listen up, people. WE fucked this up. This mess is OUR fault. Hubris, comfortable lives and the internet (I guess) led to the demise of this luxurious freedom we have been enjoying.

    It is gone. IT”S GONE! Dad, if you want to protect your kid, get a fucking gun. Get a lot of fucking guns. Learn how to use them.

    Seth-boy, Isla Vista is a wonderland. They will eat you for lunch out in the World.

    Skinny, I (semi) apologize for the vehemence of this comment. I have been following you for quite awhile, more for your writering talents than anything else. But this is all our fault. We took for granted that Americans are not unbelievably stupid.

    We were wrong. Time to get our shit together and make sure it doesn’t happen again four years from now.

    I’m looking at you, Son of Seth. Google democratic convention ’68. Enroll in a poly-sci course.

    Activism starts on campus. Form a coalition. Give it a sexy name. Get some guns. I mean it. Arm yourselves! Wake up the Panthers.

    Shake off this hubris, liberals!

    Tim Joe Comstock

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: