The college English major in me can't resist comparing Election 2016 to Dante's Inferno. Just when it seems American politics cannot become stranger or more vulgar, it does.
The poem, written by Italian Dante Alighieri in the 14th century, chronicles the author's imagined journey through a hell depicted as a series of concentric circles. Each sinner experiences a form of poetic justice in the particular realm corresponding to his or her earthly indiscretions: lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery. The levels of wickedness increase from circumference to center. Satan, the penultimate evildoer, resides in the middle.
There's a lot of fire and brimstone here, but so much of our political discourse has become positively medieval.
What does it say about our republic, what we value, and what we hope to become that Donald Trump, a person who seems to have disdain for so many people -- Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, African-Americans, people with disabilities, a Gold Star family and the LGBT community -- is polling at over 40 percent? And the misogyny? Trump humiliates and intimidates women to gain the upper hand. The 2005 tape where Trump boasts about groping women? Don't even get me started.
When is enough finally enough, I ask myself?
Do we care that Donald Trump does not believe in climate change? That he encourages nuclear proliferation? Or that he says he 'loves war'?
He wants to want to Make America Great Again. What form will the greatness take in the midst of such chaos?
And what will we eat when we destroy our environment? Money?
Donald Trump is encouraging America to pave the road to our own destruction. By embracing the angry, violent and xenophobic attitudes he encourages at his rallies, we forsake the higher values --faith in the future, personal responsibility, empathy for others and creative problem-solving-- that would enable us to create jobs at home and work with our allies. Our political discourse has instead devolved into a morass of greed, self-aggrandizement, self-loathing and entitlement.
The white, working class American men who support Trump? His policies will leave them high and dry as well.
At first I didn't want to seem too 'political'. I was like one of those wishy-washy souls at the Dantean vestibule.
I have, in the last year, seen too many people accept Trumpism as a kind of religion and embrace The Donald as a strong man savior to remain silent.
So many seem all too eager to dismiss his verbal barbarity and innuendo as long as it is directed at 'others' (who do not look like them, or worship as they do, or speak the same language) as long as their standard of living does not change. "I've got mine," they seem to say, "and that's all that matters".
I recall Martin Niemöller's 1946 poem: "First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew/...then they came for the Communists.../then they came for the trade unionists.../...then they came for the Catholics.../...Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up."
While Hillary Clinton is not a flawless candidate, I am very much looking forward to voting for her on November 8th.
Her extensive experience on the world stage, coupled with her controlled temperament (Did you see how she kept her composure during those debates?) and empathy for others' experiences make her the obvious choice for the highest office in our land.
I am not voting for Hillary simply because she is a woman, but because I believe she possesses the preparation, commitment and judgment necessary to make difficult decisions at home and abroad and to command respect on the world stage.
In the deeply red area where I live, my views are unpopular, to say the least. There is still a latent (and not-so-latent) misogyny in America. I feel the sideways looks and eye-rolls when I talk about politics; partly, I know, because of my gender. I am surrounded by people proudly wearing 'Life's A Bitch: Don't Vote For One" t-shirts at my local fair.
The glass ceiling should have been shattered long ago. But it hasn't.
We're all aware of the verbal encouragement extended to little girls--you can be anything you want to be!
We're hardly there yet. But we continue to break down sexist barriers.
Many men (and some women) resent and distrust a woman who is intelligent or ambitious.
The current reality: Many women still bear the lion's share of childcare, eldercare and housework, often with little support or acknowledgment. Women receive 80 cents for every dollar a man receives for comparable work. We are often expected to brush off sexual harassment with a smile, to know that the person doing it is 'only kidding'. Even worse, we are supposed to be 'flattered' by the attention. Yeah, right!
And have you ever heard the argument that 'Hillary sounds like my mother when she used to scold me?' (And maybe you needed to be reprimanded! )
I am hoping history will judge our current tumult and division as the sorts of growing pains which precede a new wave of civil rights for all. I wonder if all the fear, anger and division is like a nasty boil somewhere deep in Dantean hell--the poison must be lanced so we might breathe free again.