Oh Say, Does that Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

The past 48 hours have taken a toll on our nation.

Yesterday we woke up without a declared president. I personally woke up and ran through a slew of emotions: relief, anxiety, paralysis, disappointment.

How could the election be THIS close again? How could so many of my fellow citizens choose this president AGAIN?

I feel you. As the daughter and granddaughter of women I love, women that voted for Trump twice, I have felt that same pain and disappointment over the last 4 years. I woke up one day and my family seemingly stopped holding the values I grew up with and embraced Trump with fervor. I remember my mom holding her nose while voting for Trump in 2016. “I don’t waaaant to vote for him, but it’s better than Hillary.” Over the past four years, she has stopped pinching her nose and instead uses her hands to wave a Trump flag.

How could the people I know and love have changed so much? I experience this on a micro-level with my mom and on a macro-level with our country.

But then I remember the 2000 election. Vaguely. I am 8 years old.
I remember my mom telling me that if Bush doesn’t win this election, this country is going to be lost forever. This was terrifying to my 8 year old brain, but Bush won and I relaxed (despite not knowing, or understanding why).

It’s the 2004 election and I am 12. Once again I am told, if Kerry wins this election, this country is going to be destroyed by democrats. I am scared. In 7th grade civics class, we take quizzes to find out which political party we are aligned with. I align as democrat. I am dumbfounded and I am angry. How could I be a democrat? I vote for Bush in our school mock election anyway. Bush wins the school and the national election. My mom and I go on to watch The Apprentice that year.

It’s 2008 and Barack Obama is running for president. My mom is thankful he is at least running with Joe Biden, at least he knows what he is doing. For once, I don’t remember her saying that the country would be destroyed if a democrat won, but she doesn’t like Obama. He is too young and inexperienced. She votes for John McCain. He loses. My mom becomes a Tea Party member.

It’s 2012, I don’t vote because I figure, Obama’s got this and he barely manages to win over Romney. I notice my mom has started to hate Obama with a fervor while I have been away at college. She tells me he is the most divisive president we have ever had. She tells me her life under Obama was lived in fear.

It’s 2016 and she is saying the same thing she said in 2000 and 2004, 2012. The candidate she embraces isn’t McCain or Romney, it’s Trump.

Trump from The Apprentice who says what no one else will. Trump that is willing to advance the agenda of the white Christian Right without seeking compromise. Trump who will fix the US and bring it back to how it was before 9/11 but after Clinton. Trump will do the things that the Christian Right cannot dirty their hands with and they embrace him as a tool for God’s work.

So, when did things change?
The truth is, if my mom is an allegory for the nation, they haven’t.

This is how the majority of our countrymen are. They aren’t working for the advancement of the country as a whole and they have stopped seeking compromise because the alternative is “to lose the country to the democrat/devil/immigrant.”

This is what we are up against. I have spoken to my mom so many times over the past four years about policy, personal feelings and pain. She still voted for Trump this past election.

I don’t have an answer for how to move forward, other than to keep having hard conversations. Keep being curious about the world and keep learning. Share that excitement for knowledge with others. I was scared until someone told me not to be. I was ignorant until someone showed me I didn’t have to be. We can change minds if we engage thoughtfully.

As I grieve for the nation, I will be turning to my own community and starting the work of shaping the nation from my own back yard.

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