A year ago, my country failed.
The failure started quite early. Rather than reject a man who began his campaign with these fateful words:
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
The media went out of its way to cover every belch and every fart this man uttered for a year and a half. The media failed to highlight who he was and what he really stood for and for that matter why he ran in the first place. (Hint: To undo everything the black dude did.)
MSNBC had a diverse lineup of on-air talent that slowly, over the course of a year, became more white and more male. Those who did not disappear outright (Melissa Harris-Perry, Touré) appeared much less frequently (Rev. Sharpton, et al.).
Comedy Central had one of the most diverse shows on television: The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Mr. Wilmore populated his show not only with a diverse cast, but also a diverse writing staff. It pushed envelopes. Unfortunately, Comedy Central seemed to have wanted a second Jon Stewart and instead it got a new Dick Cavett. Laughs, yes, but also thoughtful discussions on a variety of topics. A few months after Mr. Wilmore introduced the Unblackening as a means to describe the 2016 election, he himself was unblackened off the air.
Rather than embrace the diversity heralded by the Obama administration and keep it going, the media and society at large ran from it as fast as it could. Freaks with tiki torches took to the streets to “take back their country.” Hate crimes skyrocketed. Vile speech became the norm. An ugly, ugly id emerged. A grotesque manifestation of molten hatred oozed into the White House. It emboldened the freaks and their tiki torches and clubs and boots.
Nothing this administration has advocated or tried to carry out in any way benefits the people who voted for it. Trump hates poor people and disdains the middle class. He is a horrible president who has made the country less strong and less secure. He won their votes, far more likely than not, because he wasn’t the black guy or the woman.
So we failed. Instead of building upon a more diverse America, a more real America, an America that reflects the many faces that make up the country, we fell backwards into a land of make-believe, where everyone is white, straight, cis, and Christian. It’s a world that does not exist nor has ever existed. It can only be maintained with a great deal of effort—gerrymandering, voter suppression, foreign influence.
The ballot got us into this mess. And ultimately, the ballot will have to get us out. People have to vote these kooks out of office. This year’s elections seem to bring some hope. Hoboken, New Jersey elected its first Sikh mayor, Ravi Bhalla. Both New Jersey and Virginia elected black lieutenant governors, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax, respectively. Danica Roem, a Democratic transgender activist, defeated Republican Delegate Bob Marshall, a vile man who tried to legislate discrimination against the transgender community. I love instant karma.
Real America, the one with lots of different people coexisting, came back with a vengeance in this year’s off-year election. Let’s hope that this trend continues into 2018. Otherwise, our failure of 2016 will compound, with interest.
© 2017, gar. All rights reserved.