A Long Day

Yesterday was a long day. I worked late yesterday to give a tour to a group of cadets. However, I was ready to go home at lunchtime. I was having pain in my hip, and my tooth was bothering me quite a bit. I was also exhausted from staying up late the night before. I had planned to go into work at 9 am instead of at my usual time of 7:30, which I did but not because I slept late. I had wanted to sleep a little late. On the days I go into the museum, I usually get up at 6 am, so technically, I did sleep a bit later, but only until 6:30. When I woke and looked at the news and saw (expectedly) that no winner had been declared in the presidential race, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. It also didn’t help that it looked like Democrats would not take the Senate. If the South actually cared about integrity and being a decent person, then Republican Senate candidates in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky would have lost.

When I was in college, I came up with a theory that if you were taking an English class and you wrote about sex or religion in an essay, you were almost guaranteed a B on the essay. If you could discuss sex and religion in the same paper, you were pretty well guaranteed an A. After this election, it seems apparent that in the South, if you are homophobic or racist, you will win your election. If you are homophobic and racist, you will win by a landslide in the South. The wildcard appears to be that if you are a southern politician and a crooked asshole, you’ll also win. 

The sheer fact that nearly 50 percent of American voters would rather have a misogynistic, racist, homophobic, lying, cheating, science-denying, criminal as president is alarming. It shows just how awful many people in America are. I believe that Trump did better than expected because Biden’s running mate is a woman of color. Racism in the United States is so inherent that it showed in the results of the 2020 election. The election of Barack Obama led to the racism in the South bubbling to the surface again. Southerners would mostly keep their bigotry to themselves and only talk about it around people they felt “safe” to make racist comments around. People, though, became more brazen about their racism during the Obama presidency. When Trump was elected, it gave voice to racists across the country. It encouraged and emboldened them to be “politically incorrect” and revel in their public displays of hatred.

Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy — that through demagoguery, he has laid waste to all the aspirations (even if unfulfilled) that we as a country hold dear: e pluribus unum, the American creed, the equality of all people who call this country home. Trump, a selfish autocrat, has thumbed his nose at all of that. Worse, he has emboldened millions of Americans to follow suit. To believe that Americans ignited and exploited by Trump don’t regard their fellow Americans as enemies, that they don’t hate other Americans, and that, after the final results, we won’t end up mad at each other? That is imagining an America that doesn’t exist. Trump has encouraged Americans to offend each other. He has brought out the worst in us to satisfy his own twisted interests. The outcome of the 2020 election will not settle any of this. Trump’s character defects, his disgusting behavior beneath the dignity of the presidency, his contempt for honesty and ethical governance have been on display since he entered the White House in 2017. And millions of Americans love what they see. What should be viewed with alarm is pointed to with pride by his followers. Donald Trump was, is now, and forever will be — along with his disciples — a threat to the nation he does not deserve to lead.

The pandemic had already shown just how selfish and hateful many Americans are. They ignored the science that wearing masks helps protect those around you, and they complained about every effort to battle the pandemic. Americans who voted for Donald Trump cannot call themselves Christian, as they voted to repudiate everything Christ advocated. The racism, misogyny, homophobia, and lack of empathy in the United States is an embarrassment. It also won’t magically go away if Joe Biden wins the election. Those who voted for Trump will not renounce their support for Trump, nor will they suddenly become decent human beings. For the American character to change, it will take at least a generation if it ever happens. 

I still believe that Joe Biden will do a lot to heal this country, but I know many people back in Alabama that will never support a Democrat. Even the miracle that was Doug Jones’ election to the Senate in 2017 was just an anomaly. There were just enough people who voted against a child molester for him to win, but everyone knew it would be short-lived. He would never win reelection as long as the Republican nominee was not a child molester. It was perfectly all right for Jones’ opponent to be a lazy, homophobic crook. I do not see the South changing anytime soon. Yes, there might be inroads in Atlanta, but Atlanta is not the entirety of the South.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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