Once Every 16 Years

I don’t write much about politics, as I’m not particularly political. However, this piece about Bernie Sanders’s die-hard supporters brought back disconcerting memories, like this piece on Nader backers before the 2000 election, the first time I could vote in a presidential election. The similarities between the two stories are eerie: the disgruntlement, the casual dismissal of the damage the other party’s candidate could do, the false notion that the two major-party nominees are interchangeable.

2016:

As for Trump: “I think he’s a terrible person, a terrible human being, I don’t support him at all,” he said. But he’s probably not that dangerous. “It has no legs, it’s just nonsense,” Villasenor said of Trump’s xenophobic anti-Mexican rhetoric and policy proposals. “He’s using that as a platform to get all those racist folks behind him.”

2000:

”I’m not afraid of Bush,” said Mr. Davis, who didn’t vote in 1996 because he did not like any of the choices. ”I’m just a disgruntled citizen.”

 

2016:

“The other two are shit and shinola, you can’t tell the difference,”

2000:

”My life is not going to change very much if either Bush or Gore are elected,”

 

Do we really need to relearn the same lessons the hard way every 16 years?

Muslims, Arabs Need Not Apply?

I rarely write about politics, but I thought I would pass along this video commentary from CNN’s Campbell Brown, in which she raises the question: So what if Obama, or even McCain for that matter, was an Arab or a Muslim? In my opinion, she correctly blasts the notion that somehow being a Muslim or an Arab is an undesirable quality that makes one a less ideal candidate for government office.

In a country that claims to embrace diversity, that purports to be a melting pot of cultures and ideas, its hypocrisy has bubbled to the surface in this election. Hey, remember when being part black was considered in a similar light? Remember when people who were discovered or rumored to have an African-American ancestry weren’t allowed to play professional sports or hold public office? A century later, and America is still trapped in the same kind of bigotry.

Truth be told, America has never been really comfortable with the high-minded ideals it claims as part of its moral fabric. It has never embraced diversity so much as merely tolerated it better than most other countries that might have such a mixture of races and cultures. At its founding, America declared that it believed that “all men are created equal” while keeping an entire race subjugated to slavery. It took a bloody civil war to finally abolish slavery, yet another hundred years passed before the government took action to officially recognize that race’s right to equal treatment. It’s been more than 40 years since then, and relations between whites and blacks are still making slow progress. What’s more, in that time they’ve both found other races and cultures to fear, to act as scapegoats for the country’s woes, to scorn as “outsiders”. And that’s just the most obvious instance of America’s discomfort with its diverse racial and cultural makeup. Throughout its history, one group after another has been scorned as “not one of us”, until they slowly integrate into society and begin to contribute to the disdain for other races and cultures. I’ve always thought that the best way to unite all races is to create a fictional race that presents a common threat and common target toward which all people’s hatred can be directed.