Monday, February 29, 2016

Talking Politics

I can't believe I'm about to say this but I have to thank Donald Trump. Yup, that's right, I'm thanking Donald Trump.  

Let me explain:

I like to say I was born a Democrat. I just kind of always knew it. When I was a little kid, I remember sitting next to my mom watching the election returns to find out if Carter or Reagan would be our next President. My mother was hoping Carter and my father in the other room was hoping for Reagan. I remember crossing my fingers for a Carter win and then well, we know how that turned out.

Years later I was on a vacation in Disney World with my father and I saw a very perky, preppy family wearing matching Bush for President buttons. I remember feeling annoyed as we got on the monorail.

I can't even really tell you why I naturally felt like a Democrat. Aside from watching the news every now and then about elections, neither of my parents were very political or even talked about politics.  But I was always fascinated with politicians, the process and social service and people who fought for justice and change.

Here's a pretty cool Republican, and a hero of mine.

I loved reading about politics and watching movies and shows about politics.  The first time I voted in a presidential election was thrilling. It was 1992 and I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska and going to college at University of Nebraska. I voted for Bill Clinton and wore my "I Voted" sticker with great pride.

Back then I enjoyed talking to people with all different opinions. College campuses are great for that stuff. We were all trying to figure out who we were and what we believed and debating wasn't personal it was about learning and growing and finding what fit.  I continued to be a proud Democrat and enjoyed politics. I even used to pop popcorn and get special snacks for the State of the Union like it was an Oscar Party.

I never stopped being interested and fascinated by politics, and different opinions. I fell in love with and married a man with many opposing political views. We had, and still have, lively, passionate conversations about our beliefs. We disagree, we agree, we laugh about it, sometimes we get a little annoyed about it, but mostly we appreciate it. We appreciate the fact that we can have different opinions and still respect each other and love each other.

Becoming a mother didn't stop my interest in politics, it intensified it. Ever since my children were babies I was bringing them to political rallies and fundraisers and committee meetings and phone banks. 

A couple summers ago I took JT and Lucy to Washington D.C. with a bipartisan group who was protesting for cleaner air and fighting for emission regulations. We got a chance to protest on the steps of the Capital and meet with Representatives and members of Congress. During one meeting, a State Representative Dan Kildee from Michigan, showed JT pictures and told stories about the annual baseball game between Republicans and Democrats. He laughed about how they all fought hard to win but also had a lot of fun together. It was pretty amazing and gave me hope that even people in Washington could have different opinions and still respect each other and have fun with each other.

Kildee showing pictures of the D.C. baseball/softball game they played.

Lucy never seemed all that interested in the rallies, fundraisers, D.C. or even meeting Melissa Gilbert who is running for the senate in my district. Nope, she seemed more annoyed than inspired; more over it than into it. 

Lucy so over me being so excited to meet Melissa Gilbert.

Until the other night, when she announced at dinner that "Donald Trump is sexist and racist." She was angry when she spoke. "What are we going to do if he is elected President?," she asked.

She cares. She is angry. She is passionate. She wants to get involved. She wants to know more. She wants to do something. 

It's awesome, it's my dream come true. Except it's not. Because I hate that my daughter has to try to figure out what she believes in such a volatile, hateful political climate. 

I mean we're talking about Donald Trump and building real walls and sending Muslim people out of the country and sexist bullshit and making fun of people and rallies and tweets full of hate. It's all spinning out of control 

The only thing I can think and hope for is that all of this hatred and negativity will shine a light on the racists and the people that don't want women to have equal rights. If there are white people that think racism and hatred isn't a thing, they know better now, right? I mean they have to be appalled by Donald Trump's politics and rallies and tweets. Right? Maybe the Republican Party will adjust and be better. Maybe Hillary or Bernie will get elected and work hard to create real change. Maybe people will be inspired to get involved in their own communities and run for office and contact their representatives and educate themselves and organize and have healthy political debates and discussions.

I am mostly hopeful that all of this hatred and negativity and all of this Donald Trump craziness will make people say ENOUGH! Maybe we will all be thanking Donald Trump for making us care and get up and do more to create change and get involved and be more compassionate and stand up to the haters and bullies. Maybe? Hopefully.

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