Hope

Warning: This is a post about the election. If you’re sick of reading about it, stop now.

You’re still reading. You’ve been warned.

This is your last chance to turn back.

Still here? Well okay then. Here we go.

 

After teaching AP US History for a little over a decade, I’ve come to realize that we are destined (or doomed…however you want to look at it) to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It is too easy to forget events that happened decades ago or to think that we won’t make the same mistakes because we are somehow smarter or more enlightened. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I, like many other Americans, was confused, disillusioned, and more than a little upset. As a nation, we repeated one of our mistakes.

When Andrew Jackson was elected in 1828, he was a populist candidate who felt like the government was corrupt and had forgotten about the “Common Man.” What he meant by “Common Man” was white males like him. It helped that those were the only people allowed to vote at the time anyway. He was shunned by the establishment, even within his own party In fact, a new party, the Whigs, formed as an opposition party to President Jackson. As president, he forcefully removed thousands of Native Americans from their ancestral lands despite a Supreme Court decision that said the Natives could keep their land; started a Spoils System that would actually lead to more government ineptitude; shut down the Second Bank of the United States that was responsible for regulating other banks and stabilizing the currency; he issued a “Specie Circular” that required all land payments made to the US government be paid in actual gold or silver coin instead of paper money; and as a slave owner himself, Jackson made it very difficult for abolitionists to use the US Postal Service to deliver anti-slavery pamphlets in South Carolina, referring to the abolitionists who were sending the pamphlets as monsters. Andrew Jackson’s economic policies would be a major factor that led to the Panic of 1837, the worst recession in US History up to that point. We’ve elected an obstinate bully with bad economic policies before. Now we’ve done it again.

To reiterate a point that has been made more eloquently than I’m about to now, how am I, or any other adult for that matter, supposed to explain the outcome of this election to the kids…not just my own kids, but my students too? How do I tell kids not to be bullies when we just elected one? How do I tell the boys to be respectful to women when our newly elected president is a known misogynist ? How can I teach the kids to be respectful of others’ viewpoints when the new leader of the free world vows revenge on anyone who disagrees with him?

I’m not about to sit here and defend Clinton. She has issues of her own, and I wasn’t overly thrilled with having her as my only other true option, but taking a historical view, most (if not all) of her transgressions can be categorized as “typical politician.” That may have been the problem. Given the choice between a misogynist bigot or a typical politician, far too many people chose the misogynist bigot. Only they will ever know why they made that decision, though it appears that many of them wanted a populist, anti-establishment candidate instead of another typical politician. Put another way, did you want a president who was going to (probably) continue the same policies as Obama, or did you want someone radically different? Many (but not most) chose someone radically different.

Some people who know me well may laugh at this, but I consider myself reluctantly optimistic. I suppose that’s a good thing. Why reluctantly? Because sometimes it’s hard to take a positive outlook on life…like right now. But I have one thing that will always help.

HOPE.

I hope the people who voted for Trump realize what they just elected so they don’t make the same mistake again.

I hope that most of what Trump the candidate said was just the bluster of a man who was saying and doing everything he could think of to get elected since most of what he said is not actually logistically feasible anyway. (Unfortunately some of his ideas are feasible. Those are the ones I’m worried about.)

I hope that if Trump actually is as divisive as his rhetoric, Democrats and Republicans may actually come together to work against a president who is abusing his power.

I hope that the ALL of us can rest easy tonight knowing that no matter how bad things may get in the next four years, we will make it through this…and there will be another election.

And, most of all, I hope that I’m wrong about Trump. I hope he ends up being a decent president because if he is, it will be good for all of us. If he isn’t, well…

That said, I’m willing to give president Trump a chance to show me he can lead. We can’t judge his presidency fairly until it has actually begun. We should follow the model of our current president and be gracious…until Trump shows us that he really doesn’t deserve it. Then, We The People can respond in the appropriate manner.

Music has always been comforting to me. It’s like in the movies when there is music playing in the background and it changes with each scene. I have my own personal soundtrack that changes as the situation demands. The past few days, I’ve had the chorus to a Foo Fighters song repeating in my head. It seems really appropriate right now.

It’s times like these you learn to live again
It’s times like these you give and give again
It’s times like these you learn to love again
It’s times like these time and time again