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(Half) a nation grieves

 (Half) a nation grieves

Sophie in Santa Cruz

Is there anything else I could have written about this week? Walking to class on Wednesday morning, the regular crowd of flip-flop-wearing students carrying binders and water bottles is dotted with black. Many people on campus are treating this day as a day of mourning. The dining hall, usually abuzz and a-clatter with hungry voices and tinkling silverware is muted as if someone had smothered everything and everyone in cotton (today it’s angry orange cotton).

The professor of my seminar class asks us how we are doing and a wave of subdued sniffles goes around the room. A girl puts her hand up and barely manages to string her words together: “My nine-year-old sister is scared. Our parents are undocumented and there are people out there who think they are horrible criminals.” For UCSC students, today feels like we have all lost something.

“Our country is more deeply divided than we thought” says Hillary Clinton in her concession speech. Everyone on campus, from students to the university chancellor in his official e-mail entitled “Moving forward” express surprise that the election could have gone this way. But the devil is in the detail: it is the students on college campuses, even those who have overcome intense racialized and financial obstacles to come here, who are surprised by this outcome. It is the residents of both coasts, of urban areas generally more affluent than what Americans often dismiss as empty space, the flyover states, who had no real vested interest in changing the status quo.

Not to make apologies for racism or misogyny and Europe is, of course, not guiltless in overlooking and attacking those worst off. But this election has taught us something (or it has taught those of my generation something that others may have already known): not only is the American Dream fiction, but it is a fiction that is strategically in place to subdue the working class. It is intricately interwoven with consoling the white working class for their lot in life by ensuring that Americans of color will remain a step worse off at every stage. As long as people of color are being shot in the streets, the white working class can sustain a sense of superiority that has real-life emotional and lethal consequences.

There is a reason that those of us on the coasts (who are white) generally do not see this. While poverty and racism exist here, nobody on this campus has experienced the same abject hopelessness, and the racism it fuels, that rules Middle America. 

Sophie Silverstein



2016-11-16: Sharon
Amen, Sophie. Welcome to the smoke and mirrors behind the American dream. Your understanding of US politics is already much more sophisticated than the average millennial. Hope you got a chance to watch Van Jones' videos where he interviewed families supporting Trump. I am so sorry that so much of America was angry enough or despairing enough that they were willing to vote for someone this unfit in order to make the rest of us hear them.

Much of the blame can be laid at the feet of the MSM, who preferred (and were well-paid) to give us "gladiator games" instead of real discussion of the issues by America's citizens. The Romans honed that technique in order to divert the attention and anger of the masses away from the ruling power. It worked quite well.

But now that the Trump voters know America is listening, couldn't we have a do over? If we continue like this, the marches in the streets are going to turn into civil disobedience, and even martial law. What we need is a way for the Electoral College to call for a new (open) election; perhaps even with ranked voting. And of course, Bernie has to be allowed to be on the candidate list. The other alternative is to watch Trump and his minions make a total mess of it, try as best we can to block everything they try to do over the next two years and then impeach and vote out whoever we can; to be replaced by Berniecrats!

Unfortunately, that could leave a very conservative Supreme Court in place. Personally, I would like to see a strong campaign to support Obama in placing the Justice of his choice in place before he leaves. He does have the law on his side.

Meantime, I find myself doing strange things like buying canned food for the homeless and doing little random acts of kindness at the post office, and wearing a safety pin. But I am also committed to calling out the media every time I see them continue to play their disempowering games. I also am composing a letter to my local Congressman, who of course committed his Super Delegate vote to a candidate before she was officially nominated by public vote. Now I demand he do all in his power to support getting rid of that corrupt practice.

We do what we can. Let me know if you want one of the "Our Revolution" shirts I had made (union-made of course).

Much love and solidarity,

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