I was raised a Republican in the Midwest— beautiful, flat, soybean-and-corn-laden Central Illinois, to be exact. I was the All-American, stereotypically sheltered sandy-haired kid roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with her cousins on Grandma’s farm as the cicadas chirped, the mosquitoes bit, and the mild air smelled of sweet green things. My childhood was wonderful: loving and supportive parents, a big brother and a little sister, a Scottish Terrier named Tuffy, private music lessons, access to a good education, church every Sunday, and the occasional snow day with my siblings, when our mom would take us sledding on the hills of a nearby golf course. I’m 37 now, and I still reflect on those days with instantaneous warmth, gratitude, and a smile across my face. I’m raising a family of my own now, and I’ve already failed at providing my children with what I had always assumed was the American Dream: a perfect nuclear family with not a care in the world. Of course, growing up, I never saw the “backstage” proceedings—the times my young parents quietly sacrificed tremendously to provide for us and make ends meet, the worry they experienced during times of national turmoil, and the stress my father dealt with daily as a law enforcement officer.
It’s been twenty years since I lived in the Heartland and, though things have changed considerably in two decades, I understand and can usually empathize with and appreciate a conservative point of view. I believe in a regulatory environment that mitigates risk while still encouraging innovation, creativity, and prosperity. I believe we Americans have indeed displayed a tendency to proficiently tap dance around tough issues in the name of political correctness. I enjoy target-shooting with my dad, and I believe in responsible gun ownership. I’m intensely patriotic and proud to be an American. I’m a registered Independent and social moderate but, still, I know that I probably lean farther right (ok, farther center) than the majority of HuffPost’s readership.
That was a long preface, but I wanted to set the stage for those who will accuse me of being a “snowflake” when I finish writing what I’m going to write. (A ridiculous caveat to even feel the need to include, but such is the state of things.)
“History has its eyes on you.” For me, that line of Hamilton, an ingenious musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, absolutely filled my heart with its poignancy. Never before have I felt such an intense awareness that history has its eyes on me— on all of us. I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recently for the second time. The first time through, I had been confronted with the horror of the Jewish experience and left with a profound sadness that humanity could commit such evil—and not so long ago. The second time through, I was moved to tears upon contemplating the complicity of those who did nothing. One exhibit showed a black and white silent video of Germans touring a liberated concentration camp, their faces registering the atrocity of what they had allowed to happen virtually next door. These were neighbors, friends, coworkers, teachers, and former business patrons. These people looked just like me— the great granddaughter of German immigrants. The USHMM website asks, “What motives and pressures led so many individuals to abandon their fellow human beings?”
History has its eyes on us. I still want to understand how half of the nation could have voted for this man in the first place, having indisputable evidence of his overt misogyny (bragging about sexual assault, for starters, in his infamous “grab them” quote), his racism (too many examples to fit into parentheses), his bumbling and nonsensical debate performances, his prepubescent infatuation with Twitter, his wildly inconsistent positions on key issues, and his proclivity for blatantly lying or masking the truth. His answer for nearly everything is the “corrupt media” or people out to get him— the perfect way to sow, nurture, and reap fear, distrust, and confusion for the public. No matter what else is going on, the fact is that the election is over, and about half of America, including most of my cherished Midwest, spoke loudly and clearly: they want change. I’ve read countless articles justifying those votes and that fervent desire for change, ranging from the Supreme Court justices to the “outsider” appeal for shaking Washington awake. Whether I like it or not (I don’t), I— resembling so many others— resigned myself in November to accept the will of the People, to assume it will be for four years max, to hope for the best, and to do everything in my power to make a positive difference in my own community.
History has its eyes on us. Though it’s been a mere ten days since the inauguration, the United States has ventured down a dangerous and destructive path. I would venture further and say that this isn’t a path; rather, it is a destructive spiral down a bottomless drain. This is no longer about accepting the election results. It’s not. And I beg your pardon, but this isn’t “politics.” This is personal. This is not a question of borders or legalities or executive privilege or fulfilling campaign promises. What is happening today, right now, is a question of our HUMANITY.
Do not tell me you are pro-life while you simultaneously shove innocent children out the door in the name of protecting Americans from terrorism. There have been zero… ZERO… fatal attacks in the U.S. by refugees since 1980. Look it up.
Do not tell me you are patriotic while you simultaneously dismiss our beloved Statue of Liberty’s famous words,
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Do not tell me this is politics while you simultaneously hand terrorists free recruitment material.
Do not expect me to nod my head and empathize when you say you’re just trying to uphold our conservative values. You are shutting the door on your fellow man as he flees from persecution and unspeakable horrors that our privileged American kids cannot even begin to fathom.
Do not tell me this is politics when HEROES who have put themselves in harm’s way to assist OUR military are being turned away at our borders after they risked everything for the promise of refuge.
I can’t expect everyone to agree with me. I have to live with that, just as you have to live with the fact that half the nation disagrees. Such diverse ideologies are what make this country free. But do not. Do NOT ... tell me again that this isn’t personal. What is happening right now isn’t ok. It isn’t politics. It is personal. We are human.
History has its eyes on us. The trajectory we have embarked upon will be something our descendants reflect upon with great shame. There will always be evil seeking to do evil. Count on it. It is the very nature of evil to sneak its tentacles in through any means possible. It is the very nature of evil to disguise itself with excuses that will vaporize under the harsh glare of history. No number of walls or executive orders will eliminate evil. Turning away those in desperate need is not protecting us from evil.
It only makes us a part of its terrible legacy.