Thursday, May 12, 2016

Scariest Election of My Lifetime

As I've watched the Presidential election primary season over the past several months, I have repeatedly said to myself, "This is the scariest election of my lifetime."  I don't consider myself to be a political person, however I have become increasingly more political, as I feel this is the most important election in my lifetime, not to mention our nation's history.

I just read a very powerful piece - An Open Letter To My Children About Donald Trump.  Please take the seven minutes to read this.

"One final thing to remember my children is that we must never hate the people who are becoming Donald Trump. We must remember that they have names and that they have stories of their own. And that perhaps the reason that they are becoming Donald Trump is because of their stories. Perhaps they are afraid that people will come and take what is theirs, or what they believe is theirs. And we must remember that no matter if it is true or not, that is a very scary thought indeed. And perhaps if we can listen and we can hear the people who are becoming Donald Trump we can learn something for ourselves and we can learn something about the place where you live and are growing. Something that will make our world bigger. And this place better. And perhaps, if these people have not yet fully become Donald Trump, they may be able to hear us and read this letter and they might know, like you now know, why I do not want you to become Donald Trump."

In a sense, it reminds me of a book I read by Lee Iacocca some years ago titled Where Have All The Leaders Gone.  Iacocca somewhat attached George W. Bush's cavalier attitude towards muslims and terrorists - "Bring it on."  This is not what our country was founded on; it is not what we are about.  As Americans, aren't we supposed to be above that?  

We have all heard the saying, "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it."  How true this statement is; it reminds me of a lesson from my 11th grade US History teacher, Rod Liner.  Rod actually knew somebody (Ron Jones) from his teaching credential program at Stanford during the 60's.  Jones went to work at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto (now closed) - when he was teaching World History, his students could not understand how the average German followed Hitler and the Nazi regime.  So Jones tried an experiment - essentially he created his own version of Fascism - using propaganda and other techniques used by the Third Reich.  And guess what?  Much like many Nazi's, students who were "indoctrinated" tried to deny their history.   The experiment, though frowned upon at the time by many, created quite a stir - a book, a movie, and a stage play / movement in Germany, among other countries.  The lesson made its point - "Fascism isn't something those other people did; it's something in all of us.  If we aren't careful, we can repeat history."  Ron Jones is still a forward-thinking educator who impacts the lives of many (I have never met him, but we are connected on Facebook and have common friends.)

Have you ever seen the film, The American President?  Michael Douglas played the President - a bachelor running for re-election who began a relationship with Annette Bening - and the press, as well as his opponent, were all over him.   The film was a bit corny, but made a strong point. As American living in a democratic society, we have many rights and points of view.  We have to find a way to understand each other and tolerate each other, even if there are opposing viewpoints.  This is far easier said than done, but it is possible through education, patience, and LISTENING.

The rhetoric spewing from Donald Trump's mouth is offensive and disgusting.  We couldn't have a worse person represent us as our President.  As the "Open Letter" states, we need to learn about each other - why many of the Trump supporters are so frustrated and disenfranchised.  Building walls and "bombing the shit" out of countries is not the answer.  Singling out a specific race or ethnicity is not the answer.  Look where that got Nazi Germany.  America is huge; there are complex issues that need to be worked on and resolved.  Right now, much of the governing we experience is about special interests and flat-out discrimination (yes, I'm referring to the way Congress has treated Obama - who very well can go down as the best President ever.)

This is the scariest election of my lifetime, but I'm going to VOTE.  I encourage everybody to vote - it is our right, but more importantly, our obligation.  Remember:  If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  And the challenges we are having are not going to go away on their own.

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