By Jeeni Criscenzo / OB Rag
Last month the OB Rag had a survey asking what people would do if Trump is elected president. Since my husband’s parents were from Mexico, and we have friends in Baja, we have had conversations about moving across the border, even before the possibility that Trump could become our next president was considered anything but ludicrous. Now, that possibility is neither far-fetched nor funny.
A year ago our reason to consider leaving San Diego was more for financial reasons and for now, at least, we have under control. Mexico might be more affordable, but are plenty of other issues that convinced us to take a move there off the table. Now, it’s back.
There is a conversation in JRR Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”, in the second chapter (The Shadow of the Past) where Gandalf explains that The Shadow has returned and this time it is Frodo who must confront it:
“Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I.” said Gandalf, “And so do all who live to see such times. But it is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Despite the fact that Tolkein’s classic good vs evil trilogy excludes females, I’ve read his stories over and over. A beautifully illustrated version of The Hobbit was my favorite to read to my children when they were young.
One doesn’t need to read classic fantasy to understand what is happening in the “time that is given us”.
We only need to look back at history to see that evil perpetually takes another shape and grows again. Many comparisons have been made with Trump and Hitler, but we can look at any time in recorded history, up to and including the present, to see what happens when The Shadow comes into power.
I recently watched the movie, Child 44, about Moscow under Stalin. What a terrible time and place to have been alive, when you could trust no one, not even your closest friends or spouse. It was every person for themselves. The landscape was bleak and misery was a way of life for the masses. Similar scenarios are being played out under evil despots around the world today.
The specter of something similar happening here, if Trump is elected, haunts many of the people who responded to the OB Rag survey.
I am not alone in feeling that The Shadow has risen again in the form of a United States presidential candidate. And while, like many who had great hope in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, I am not pleased with Hillary Clinton’s cozy relationship with banksters and war mongers, she at least gives lip service to common decency. Trump on the other hand, like Sauron, is nurturing the festering hordes who have been just waiting for someone to give them permission to be hateful, violent, racist, misogynist bullies.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the nation’s largest police union, has recently endorsed Trump. Not unlike other dictators, he now has his personal army in place. One only has to look at the rash of police shootings of unarmed black men, including the recent one here in El Cajon, to know that there are police who see themselves above the law and seem unable to differentiate between “serve and protect” and suppress the masses. What will stop them from taking out any citizen they think is preventing Trump’s directive to “Make America Great Again?”
No matter who wins this election, we are in for terrible times. Trump’s newly awakened minions will not go quietly if he cannot take power by election. We have dumbed down the masses and fed them a diet of fear. It’s a proven mind-control technique to make people receptive to propaganda and it’s working for both candidates. Hillary Clinton is using it to convince even the most die-hard Bernie supporter that our survival as a democracy depends on Trump NOT being elected President. After watching the first debate and seeing the enthusiastic response of his supporters following it, I’m convinced that fear, while convenient for her candidacy, is also well founded.
Trump is also playing on the deepest fears of those who are feeling helpless and forgotten by our government. The Neoliberal policies supported by Clinton are, at least in part, responsible for pushing these folks to the edge. But Trump offers them no alternative. Instead he has made scapegoats of populations that are already marginalized and turned bravado and meanness into an art form. Following the recent bombing in New York and New Jersey, I was horrified to see a post on Facebook by a friend from my childhood who said she is voting for Trump. People are buying his lies and that scares the hell out of me.
And all of this is happening while humanity is facing the urgent crisis of global climate change. We may have already run out the clock on opportunities to turn things around. At best, if we could all work together, we could figure out how to get through the challenges to survival of our species that are already set in motion. There couldn’t be a worse time for a divisive leader to take the reins of the most powerful nation on the planet.
So here we are, with only this to decide, “What will we do with the time that is given us?” no matter who is elected.
If you choose to crawl into a hole, whether that is a home in Canada, a farm in Mexico or the cave of your own despair, who can blame you? If you think nothing will change, you are in for a rude awakening. If Hillary Clinton is elected, we could be facing a future of perpetual war and increasing economic inequity? Even so, she is still the lesser of two evils by a long shot and I’ve resigned myself to voting for her. The alternative is too terrifying to contemplate.
But contemplate we must. What will we do if the worst of two evils is elected?
I will be grateful for the time I was given: that I had a safe and loving childhood; a life where I had the freedom to choose to be independent and creative, and to accept the financial consequences of those choices. I have known the joy of family and friends, whom I can trust. But I also see that even while I was enjoying these privileges, all around me more and more people were being denied them. And the growing number of people, particularly people of color, who are being denied even the most basic rights – a place to sit and sleep and defecate, is a terrifying harbinger of things to come.
The fact that half of the people in this country are gleefully embracing Trump’s mean-spirited bullyism is demoralizing. But we cannot afford to wallow in despair or run away. There is no “away.” So what will we do?
To each person who is pondering what they will do if Trump is elected, I hand you this ring, this cargo, this burden, this seed of goodness.
My answer to what I will do if Trump is elected: I will help to plant the seeds of Our Revolution, and invite you to help me tend the garden, share in the harvest and save the seeds. I’ve got your back and I have to believe, when the dust settles from this nightmare of an election, you’ve got mine.