The Audacity of Hope

captain-america-hydra-agent

Wow…saw that coming, huh?

Yesterday, I had an interaction on the bus with a couple of guys. They boarded talking loudly about their candidate winning. It was smugness and I was in no mood to listen to them so I turned up my techno and lulled off to sleep like I usually do. It wasn’t until a few stops from my house when I was packing up that one of them asked if I was gay. Even typing that is very disorienting for me but I’ve been bullied before and been told I was gay since I was ten. This felt very much like bullying but I am a grown man so I laughed it off and told them “No, sorry. Not my bag, man.” I was getting ready to get off the bus when one of them yelled “Techno is for fags. Get off the bus, faggot.”

I just stood there stunned. Nobody said a word. With everything happening in the world, nobody said a damned thing. And these guys thought I was gay.

I tried to brush it off until this morning, when my little girl asked for me to read to her “The Mighty Avengers” Golden Book that she calls “Captain.” The book describes IronMan and the Hulk and Thor and Captain America. Steve really is her favorite. She’ll stare at him for seconds at time saying “captain.” Today, I went to read this line:

“With his unbreakable shield, Captain America leads the Avengers in their never-ending fight to defend truth, justice, and freedom.”

I broke down. After 2 days and having predetermined and suppressed prejudices thrown my way, I lost it for about 10 seconds. I had tears and my little girl looked up and giggled. She doesn’t know why I cried but I told her: “Our country is really angry at itself. Maybe Captain America can help.” In response, she said, “captain?”

Recognizing that the USA, my home, my country, is going through a tumultuous time of hand-wringing, finger-pointing, name-calling, and worst of all, denouncing your fellow man is agonizing. The emotions, especially for one that cares so strongly, electrify the air, static bouncing off of words and stares flashing with bolts of “your fault.” The Ghost Forest isn’t weeping today. Merely it is disheartened by the direction the country chose to go in.

The arm-chair punditry is prevalent now. Nate Silver was right, and if anyone listened, would not be shocked by this outcome. Jon Favreau at “Keepin’ It 1600” on the other hand, he and his multitude of liberal cohosts need to chill out, take some time to do some retrospection and keep their eye on the ball. The DNC and their base dug their own grave but the President-Elect picked the date and time and called them to the gallows. The election was messy, lazy, and mean-spirited. It was for lack of a better analogy “third world.”

I stand in solidarity for those who voted for Hillary and Trump. I am a registered Republican but Trump is way off the mark on representing me, my ideals, and the party I initially signed on to represent in my community. My rage and wrath have been tempered by resilience and empathy. My surprise is that the echo chamber in which the Democrats lived in during this campaign cycle (and past 8 years) was so pervasive that it really is no wonder why the Rust Belt flocked to someone who listened to them, spoke their language, and touted their cause.

Their cause being hatred of the system and disillusionment of their standing. Of being outsiders. Of not feeling a part of the conversation at large. Of not being recognized for who they were and what they represent. Hillary, with all her experience, just had no chance when an anger that great finally gets a lightning rod that is willing to buck the system. The system of emails, of backdoor deals, of the illusion of equality.

But being a white straight male (I say this for demographics sake) that voted for Hillary (but stood with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) because he did not agree with Trump’s lack of policies, economic stances, racism, xenophobic rhetoric, his homophobic Vice-President, his spin doctors, I understood the significance of shock and awe. I lived through the past 16 years with the shock of 9/11 and the lessons that event brought with it. I championed the how widespread the notion of progressive politics was seeping into our culture. I did not know one person that truly believed in Trump’s words. I look back now on conversations with certain people and I know they did. They were the shadow voters, never admitting their ego-bruising but ready to cast a ballot to be heard again. It makes my stomach sick to think that they 1) could justify Trump’s controversial stances and 2) felt that they were no longer needed in the USA.

Everyone needs a captain. Hopefully the USA finds its own soon.

 

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