Reflections on the election- roses among the ruins
By Susan Eleuterio
For the last four days, I went door to door in Hammond, Indiana, canvassing for the Democratic Party, specifically the working class wing of the Democratic Party. Hammond is a somewhat gritty, industrial city on the shores of Lake Michigan-it has a long history of serving as a home to immigrants and migrants looking for the American dream- a home, a job, a chance for their children to have a better life. I was stunned at the number of boarded up buildings, because I bike through Hammond regularly, but until you go off the main roads/bike paths, you can miss the evidence which echoes the stories told by the press relentlessly in their coverage of Donald Trump’s supporters (not sworn in yet, so I don’t have to use the honorific) the mute witness of homes and apartments which no longer provide housing, and lives which have crashed. Unlike the wealthy subdivision outside Crown Point, where I also canvassed, there were no Trump signs in these neighborhoods, just roses blooming in the climate changed November warmth. (Yes, Trump has promised to roll back the climate accords, but he can’t change the weather which tells the truth in spite of all the lies he chants.)
There are lives blooming in Hammond as well; the young Hispanic girl in her neat school uniform who smiled as I wearily climbed one more set of steps, the African American woman who clasped my hands and told me she was praying for a Clinton victory (and while her prayers weren’t answered, her faith is something we all need at this dark time), the older Mexican American couple who proudly told me they always vote Democratic, and the graying white hippie in a tie dyed shirt who told me he had already voted.
Like many of my friends and family, I am terrified at the misogyny, the hatred of the “other,” and the willingness to pretend that everything was fine in the past in America of Trump and his supporters-and I am angry at the Democratic Party and the press, ironically the same folks who Trump railed at, who enabled him by picking and focusing on candidates (Evan Bayh in Indiana and yes, Hilary Clinton) who smugly assumed that it would be business as usual, and who ignored the call of Bernie Sanders and his supporters (including me) for governance which acknowledges that everything is not fine outside the gated communities and wealthy homes of the affluent.
I am particularly angry at the so called liberal wing of the media (National Public Radio, I’m talking to you!) which amplified not only the message, but the ranting raving voice of Donald Trump every single day, in every single show while giving 20 seconds here and there to Hilary Clinton’s campaign. It’s always interesting when you actually “live” in someone’s experience, and for the last month, I lived as a Clinton supporter, in spite of my misgivings. When you live in someone else’s shoes, you see and hear things in a different way then just being an ally-and what I saw and heard was blatant sexism and perhaps some ageism as well. We women of a certain age know all too well how easy it is to be invisible -and when Clinton wasn’t being pilloried, she was invisible to the press.
So back to those roses- we can look at our country this morning and see only the destruction, the hate, the anger, and hear only the justified fear of those who have and will be targeted by Trump, Pence and their allies- or we can hug those who are likely to be most affected (people of color, working class people, immigrants who aren’t models, gay and transgender people, Muslims, and yes, women), link hands, and say-” we shall overcome,” not one day, but this day, moving forward, right now.
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