The rest as they say, is history. If the past is what truly sets the context for what will be the present and the future, then America is exactly what it should be. America is as it’s always been, a nation divided. Sadly, it is a nation still divided at its core by race and gender. The appropriately named “exit polls” of the 2016 presidential election are yet another stark and sobering reminder that in these inappropriately named United States of America, what is past is indeed and will forever be prologue. The numbers, the facts, and even more disheartening, the people, have spoken. And they all say what they have always said, “You’re not welcome here!”
This nation has come a long way since the days of “separate but equal”only to find itself firmly entrenched in the days of separate but equal. Coming full circle has never been so dizzyingly vicious. America as a circumference is a pool filled with deep-seeded hate and shallow ideology. The gender and race problem is old hat. But in its current incarnation, the hate and the division that permeates a united stream of consciousness, this time, will keep us separate, but all equally amongst the shit.
White American voters, especially males over the age of 45, made it abundantly clear in the 2016 election that they want “their” country back. “Make America Great Again” for that particular demographic invoked a dangerous nostalgia replete with its own set of punitive and antiquated laws, rules, traditions, and beliefs.
The nostalgia of a not-so-distant America when the non-white, non-male was looked upon--and treated--as a permanent underclass. To a time when fear, hate, and inequality, along with racial and gender discrimination was the mandate. Where the deciding factors between being separate or considered as an equal were based on whether you were man or woman, white or otherwise.
It is almost as if white male voters over forty were casting a vote against the current, and not coincidentally, first African-American president and simply voting for someone who shared in their hate for him.
Even if this meant the more qualified candidate, a candidate whose politics happened to align with the current non-white one, and again coincidentally, was the first woman running for this nation’s highest office, lost. 51 percent of all voters yearning for America to be “great” again have an education at either a high school level or lower.
Could it be that these voters wanted to make sure the African-American president was assured not to win for a third time or were they all just truly that set against a woman running this country? While it is virtually impossible to know what they were all thinking it is practically certain what they believe.
Most if not all exit poll data show a nation still failing to come to grips with its most basic differences.
An overwhelming 58 percent of the over 40, white male who voted chose to “Make America Great Again”. More than double that those who felt this a less than dubious notion. When it came time to shatter the glass ceiling by finally electing a female commander-in-chief, 63 percent of that same demographic emphatically chose not to.
Subtracting the 45 plus years -- average age of the white male Trump voter -- from the year 2016 gives a pretty clear indication of what their idea of a “Great America” entails. In 1971 All in the Family debuted on CBS. The show centered around a white, blue-collar working man who just so happened to be a bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic racist, spewing hate for 30 minutes subversively disguised as comedy to millions of Americans. It was a bonafide hit with white America for its entire run.
How about 47 years back? Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in April of that year which led to devastating race riots nationwide. This was also the year of the revised Civil Rights Act of 1968.
51 years back is right in the middle of the “Great America” that gave us another tragic assassination of a prominent black leader in Malcolm X, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which finally gave minorities their long overdue “equal right” to vote.
This was all one year before the original Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was begrudgingly signed into law by-then white president Lyndon B. Johnson who had taken over office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a champion of minority and women’s rights, less than two years earlier. And lest we forget this was all taking place during the Jim Crow period where white “Great America” ruled with an iron fist over African-Americans.
The more you subtract the years from the current one the more heinous our “Great America” becomes. It is the same “Great America” that the voters who were born in, or who were growing up during that time, so fondly wish and want to harken back to and live within. The winning votes cast in this election were not decided along economic lines. Those numbers show a ten percent or less margin between most, if not all income levels.
They were not votes that were cast along political party lines. The winner of this election is considered more of an independent who ran with the formidable funding and support of one of the major parties than one who is explicitly tied to either Democrat or Republican. This was a vote cast along the lines of gender and color. The old boy network came through again and bought itself a victory. And any non-white person who has lived in America for any considerable amount of time is far from shocked by this outcome. The history of white America’s ideals and beliefs has and always will be woven into its present eye-holed hooded fabric and vice versa.
A perfect example of how historically historic America really is can be found in its new President-elect. At seventy-years-old the soon to sworn in leader of the free world was born and grew up during a time when not just minorities, but women, were afforded next to nothing when it came to matters of equal rights, treatment, or economic and social standing. Forty-two years before the first sexual harassment lawsuit was ever filed on behalf of a woman yet only a mere eighteen years older than the first sexual harassment suit that was ever won or settled in favor a woman plaintiff.
There is no subtraction of years that will place us in a “Great America” again, because one does not exist. America has never been great. America as a nation has been very good at a myriad of things, but greatness is not one of them. The term greatness is, was, and forever will be a term that is thrown about far too loosely, and oftentimes for things and people that are far from it. Greatness implies character, mastery, compassion, understanding, and most important, sacrifice. Above all else greatness requires a strict and unwavering devotion to all those things, even when, and especially, when providing them is at its most inconvenient. Greatness does not take a day off and this so-called “Great America” has taken far too many of them in the face of adversity to ever be labeled as such.
Greatness oftentimes bears repeating. History, if ever, rarely does. If you judge the present and the future through the lens of history; when the difference between being an oppressed or non-oppressed people and having your life play out that way, or when the concept of a mere progression as a people is directly correlated to the identification of one’s gender or the the hue of one’s skin; what hope is there to be gleaned from this spectrum? If America continues to think and act in 2016 as it has throughout history how can it ever move forward as a nation? There is indeed some form of hope in the notion of giving the current president-elect a chance.To believe that the good of the people should and will be the only will and mandate of the forthcoming presidency of the United States. But there is also tremendous skepticism and sadness. The newly elected president did not run on a platform of togetherness, unity and equality for all. It was a campaign ran and based solely on hate and fear-mongering, divisiveness and exclusion. The difference now is modern day separatism threatens to buck conventional segregationist history and put all of America in equal peril.