Ok, I wrote this after the Women’s March and didn’t post it then because, well, buzzkill. But now it’s Presidents’ Day and it feels… still relevant, so I’m going to share my possibly unpopular (what’s new) viewpoint.
So I attended the Women’s March in Denver. It was amazing. 200,000 people in attendance was what I heard. And such an uplifting energy! I’m a shy introvert who doesn’t much strike up conversations with random strangers, but even I found it utterly delightful to connect with the people I found myself next to throughout the day. The speakers were so powerful, and delivered inspiring and energizing messages about the work that’s needed to build a nation in which everyone’s needs are cared for, and all truly have access to the resources they need to reach their best human potential. Yes!
I chanted, This is what democracy looks like! I hollered, My body, my choice! I sang, Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around… and This land is your land…
But you know what I didn’t say?
“Can’t build a wall with hands too small.”
I didn’t say,
“Not my president!”
And I couldn’t make myself yell,
“Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!”
And it’s not necessarily because I do prefer to be FOR something than AGAINST something.
It’s because I am very invested in America recognizing that this IS our president.
He got enough votes to win. Whether you agree with the methods of counting that are used in presidential elections or not – he had the energy that carried the day.
Because the energy was THERE. It’s been there for a long, long time. I’d venture to guess it’s been there since the first Europeans stuck a flag on this continent in 1492. Trump is just the first person in recent memory who’s been willing to be seen publicly tapping into that energy and using it to fuel a very successful campaign. He’s not particularly ashamed of how he got where he got, from what I can see – unlike most politicians, who don’t want to be seen as pandering to hate (even if that’s what they’re knowingly doing). Indeed, most Americans do not even want to acknowledge that this energy exists.
Because it’s our shadow.
And what’s a shadow if not those things about ourselves that we repress and disown because we can’t bear to face them?
I’m talking about our nation’s shadow.
Our nation that was founded on genocide and funded by chattel slavery.
Until it got well enough established to keep rollin’ forward without those tactics being explicitly part of its day to day practice.
These methods are not accepted in what you could call polite international company, so we finally let them go. But not until they had gotten the nation to a position of economic and military strength.
And even then, we made certain practices illegal – without touching the underlying values that had produced those practices in the first place. Chiefly, the value of “coming in first by hoarding as much as possible” – as much money, land, cheap labor, minerals, munitions, or whatever is seen as most valuable in a given context.
It’s the main unspoken principle on which our country is based.
And here we still are, folks.
Donald Trump made that shadow visible. Because, well, I guess he doesn’t give a shit what people think of him when it comes to morality – and in that way, yes, he differs from most establishment politicians.
Do I think his policies are good? Fuck no. You bet I’ll be taking a stand issue by issue.
Do I think he’s THE problem? I do not.
I think he’s part of our healing.
Kind of like how a tooth can be infected and dumping diseased cells into the bloodstream for a long time before it suddenly starts to hurt enough to make you go to the dentist. At which point, you get a root canal – but you better change your habits, too, unless you want to be back in exactly the same seat next year, cringing under the drill, going “I hate dentists.”
Is the dentist really the problem here? Is it the tooth? Or is it the years of haphazard self-care that led to this moment?
To be clear: I’m not saying the nice revolutionary women wearing pussy hats and chanting “Not My President” are secretly racists in denial.
I’m saying that if we want a different nation, we need to own up to this powerful underground current of energy that flows under everything we do as a collective entity.
Donald Trump IS my president in the sense that I am an American and this is a truth about my country. He represents something that’s really part of this nation. A pretty strong part, too, seemingly. Is denying that it exists going to help us change it? I don’t think so.
Luckily, it’s only part of who we are. We have other values, too: faith in a better future; respect for individual freedom; appreciation for invention and creativity. It’s also written into our national consciousness that humans are creatures who can find better ways.
That, too, is who we are and what we do.
At church today I heard the minister say that acceptance defines our map through any challenging territory.
If we are unwilling to acknowledge that something exists (even if there are reasonable reasons for that unwillingness), we’ll be mightily hampered in our ability to change it or to navigate through it.