In the midst of the hateful rhetoric coming from both sides of the political aisle, I want to take a moment to pause and reflect on the deep seated issues running rampant through our country, the election process, and the entire globe that have made themselves more plain over the past few years than I care to accept. But I must accept it regardless of how much it pains me, because this is the truth before me.
The farcical nature of politics of late is a mockery of government that makes my spirit ache, breaks my heart, and disgusts my personal value system. As a journalist, I believe in seeking the truth no matter the cost, and no matter how ugly. I believe in calling truth to power, in holding our leaders accountable for their words and deeds and shining a light on the darkness that surrounds us.
As a journalist, I have witnessed rising levels of extremism and hate that I thought were left to the history books. It has been revealed that the woodwork was chock full of racist ideologies and exclusionary attitudes all along. “Of the people, by the people, for the people” is a mantra that has been abandoned by the very leaders who swore an oath to uphold this principle, trading it in for lies, self-aggrandizing practices, and cold-blooded policy.
We have sullied the foundations this country was built upon and regressed all the way back to a state of existence that violates basic human rights, strips us of our dignity, and eviscerates civility. So much progress has been undone in such a short amount of time that it feels as though this must all be a dream. We cannot possibly abide, let alone approve of, this level of corruption, hypocrisy and greed, can we?
I have found myself more afraid of our leaders and those in power than I can bear. I have struggled and sometimes failed to cope, to try to come to terms with our reality, to live in hope. If this is what “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” looks like, then we have not only lost our way, but also our very humanity. My experience has been that of one who watches the lifeforce of a loved one drain away until there is no hope of recovery.
I have been grieving silently, filled with dread about what feels like my own impending doom, preparing myself for the worst while my most fervent hopes for a better outcome seem to fall farther out of reach. It has seemed, for me, like any hopes for a better future have faded into fantasy and been locked up with my forgotten dreams.
I often jokingly state that I voted for Biden because he is the lesser of two evils. The term honest politician is an oxymoron, and I know that no matter who stands at the helm of the nation, we are not going to be able to clean up all of the blood we have spilled. The walls and floor of this nation are drenched in it, and no amount of Clorox is going to fix that.
I have watched everyone I know suffer, even those who stand with Trump and believe his lies. And I use the word lies with confidence, because facts are facts, and the facts are that Trump has spoken over 25,000 objectively false or misleading statements (to use a term he himself has coined, “alternative facts”).
Speaking of oxymorons, fake news has become so embedded in our media that it has become impossible for millions of Americans to discern the difference and, again, as a truth-seeking journalist I am appalled and dumbfounded by its poisonous spread. This nation is diseased with falsehoods and misinformation, spewing like truths from the mouths of those who we should most be able to trust and who dare use phrases like “fair and balanced” and “most trusted” in their slogans. Both our current administration and much of our media are fascist pricks disguised behind democratic obfuscations. Rather than trusting the agenda of those who provide our information, we must take responsibility for digging for the truth and hold these institutions accountable. They can only feed you lies if you choose to swallow them.
It seems clear that Biden has won the election, and the sense of relief that washed over me upon receiving this information was deep and profound. But my relief is in no way connected to any particular affinity for Biden. Rather, my disdain for the Trump administration, what it stands for and what it has managed to do to this country and the globe, is so unadulterated that anything that unseats and blockades him and his compatriots has my vote, no matter how unappealing it may be on its own.
I mentioned hope earlier. For millions of Americans, this is what the Biden-Harris ticket represents. Perhaps not the kind or level of hope that we deserve, but at least a representation of leadership that is not quite as nefarious as the one that is currently seated in the White House. This is only a temporary fix, not a solution, and Biden cannot hope to undo all that Trump has done. He is, at worst, a lesser threat, at best, a momentary boon. He is merely a buffer against buffoonery and tyranny, not the bastion of democracy and decency that we deserve.
I must say that I am thrilled at the prospect of our nation’s first Black and Indian American female Vice President-elect. I have high hopes for Kamala Harris, as she shatters racial and gender barriers and takes her place next to the President-elect in the Oval Office. That in itself is a monumental win for this country and goes a long way toward countering any concerns I have about Biden.
This country, scratch that, the world, needs healing, tolerance, justice and unity. We are at war with each other in a way that should never occur in a free and democratic society. And yet, here we are, pointing fingers and guns at our perceived enemies because we feel that the very fabric of our freedoms and rights are being threatened on our own turf. Is this, too, a lie we have gobbled up as truth? Or have we become so sleepy and apathetic that we will allow our own government to bring about our demise, all the while believing that we are benefiting, only to wonder why things are not getting better?
We have forgotten how to recognize and embrace the commonalities that unite us all as humans, and instead have allowed our differences to violently define our treatment of one another. We have allowed pain to overtake our reasoning and compassion, personal convictions to supersede respect for autonomy, and righteous indignation to overpower thoughtful and open-minded considerations.
This is the power of fear and manipulation, and when there is a lying, fearmongering, orange-faced predator steering the ship, we are bound to turn on each other like animals and bring about our own destruction, too busy rallying with the angry mob to notice that the stones we throw have pierced the hull. We have taken on water and everyone wants to point fingers at someone else. The truth is that we are all responsible for the mess we have made, even if you do not believe that you are directly to blame. It is my deepest hope that we can begin to see these truths and use them as lessons to create something better, rather than weapons to destroy our own home.
Also, I will never be able to enjoy Cheetos, ever again.