This Is Why Elections Matter

This Is Why Elections Matter November 27, 2018

I feel like I need to say something about this weekend’s gassing of the migrant caravan. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m not sure what this country is anymore.

The Right is making it damned hard to feel patriotic. Certainly, patriotism is overrated in general—and pride in one’s country, when it comes at the expense of others, contributes to major global problems like war. Still, the Right complains about a supposed lack of patriotism—they want Americans to waive flags and sing odes to America—and then they go about creating a country that no compassionate American can be proud of. How does that make sense?

An America I could be proud of wouldn’t reject immigrants and refugees. An America I could be proud of wouldn’t leave people to raise money for a heart transplant on GoFundMe. An America I could be proud of wouldn’t have years-long waiting lists for affordable housing. An America I could be proud of wouldn’t stigmatize people based on their religion, their skin color, or their ethnicity. An America I could be proud of would recognize that there is strength in pluralism.

An America I could be proud of wouldn’t throw tear gas at toddlers. Or lock them in cages. Or take them from their parents.

Kim, the photographer who took this photo later tracked down this mother to hear her story.

Kim said Mesa “was travelling with five children.”

“Their father lives in Louisiana and they are trying to reach him,” he said.

Those on the Right often ask why migrants from Honduras don’t stop in Mexico. This is one reason—many of them have family already in the U.S. And you know what? It was like this for my ancestors. And, if you’re caucasian and live in the U.S., for your ancestors as well. People followed people they knew. They created new lives. They thrived. They contributed to society. Their children grew up, and had children, and their children had children, and hello, there’s you.

These days, it feels like everything I actually liked about America is being destroyed. And you know what? It’s because elections have consequences. Oh, I voted, and I know you probably did too. Even if everyone had voted, of course, it’s still quite possible that xenophobic white supremacists have us outnumbered—and that’s without even getting into voting suppression efforts, which typically target Democratic voters. Still—elections have consequences.

I suppose I’ve always assumed that most people are good, and compassionate, and kind. I’m having to rethink this. And it hurts. How do you work toward positive change in a country of people who cheer the gassing of toddlers? It can’t just be about getting people to the polls. It also has to be about changing minds. And when people are cheering the gassing of toddlers, that’s hard. What do you even have to start with? What common foundation do you have to work from?

And, that’s where I am today. We need change, we need resistance, but some days, I just don’t know how. So let’s use the comments on this thread, here today, to share and to brainstorm. What actions are you taking? What nonprofits are you supporting? What can we do—practically do—to become a country that doesn’t gas toddlers?

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