"PCH Sunset" Gaviota, California 2017
Since the Presidential election on November 8th, I’ve wanted to express my thoughts on what went down, but I’ve had so many different feelings about the outcome, it’s been hard for me to distill into one post what I should articulate. To begin with, I think what happened was devastating in the sense that Donald Trump’s values, and in fact, the values of the GOP do not represent the values of the majority of Americans. Most Americans are not liars and don’t condone lying as a way of doing business or politics. We are not racists. We aren’t homophobes or sexists or xenophobes. Still, Trump won because of the power of the electoral college via rural areas across America.
Now, let me just say, I’m glad rural areas are thoroughly represented in the United States. I grew up in an extremely rural area in Missouri. Any vote there should count as much as any vote I cast here in Los Angeles. Many people in rural areas, especially where I’m from, claimed they voted for Trump despite his severe character flaws because they were suffering, and they didn’t believe Democrats would ease this pain. From the rust belt to the sun belt industry (and thusly jobs) seem to be fleeing small towns and cities at an alarming rate. This economic condition has left folks in Middle America scrambling for work and feeling like an afterthought in a world that has passed them by. Well, I hate to see anyone suffer, but I also believe these small towns must take a good, hard look at what they themselves have done to their towns before blaming anyone in Washington. First and foremost, so many of these municipalities have cut education to within an inch of its life. They fight diversity. They despise environmental protections. They champion unregulated gun rights. They've slowly hacked away at women’s rights and access to healthcare. They've demanded their taxes be lowered until they have no money to fund their own local governments, police, and infrastructure. They push Christianity and shun all other religious beliefs. They do all of this and then they wonder why no companies want to build a plant in what’s now become their decrepit midwestern slums or why no educated young people want to bring in new business ideas or technical skills to grow their crumbling economies. Well, it’s not that educated young people don’t want to live in the middle of bucolic forests and rustic town squares instead of cluster-fucked big cities, it’s that educated young people all over America voted unanimously for Hillary Clinton and by extension BETTER funding for education, MORE diversity, TOUGHER REGULATION on our environment. BY A MASSIVE MARGIN the educated, young people of America voted for COMMON SENSE gun control and EQUAL rights for women and ALL minorities. We voted for tax CUTS on the middle class and tax HIKES on the wealthy. ONLY Democrats voted ENTHUSIASTICALLY for raising the minimum wage. Republicans voted to abolish it entirely. I do not understand the logic of anyone who would abolish the minimum wage and then wonder why no one wants to come work in their small town or city. And if a person from a rural area says to me they don’t have the money to raise the minimum wage, well let me make a suggestion to all you rural voters, start voting for candidates who want to make your area a haven of social justice, a welcome place for gay and transgendered individuals, a sanctuary for every ethnicity and religious belief. Make your cities beacons of well-funded education and safeguard your forests, fields, and rivers with tough environmental protections. Assure young families that common sense gun control is a priority for you, and I assure you young, educated folks will want to come back to their old hometowns, and money will start to flow to your businesses and bank accounts again. Abandon these ideals, and I assure you, things will only get worse for you, no matter what promises people in power make.
When I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago and realized at some point I wanted to marry him, I had dreams of coming back to Missouri and getting hitched up on some hill overlooking some beautiful lake. Even before that I spent hours of my free time looking at real-estate back in the Midwest, thinking about how one day soon, I would buy a place back there, a writer’s retreat, and I would spend a few months each year amongst the beauty and grace that I remember growing up surrounded by. However, with this last election I was awoken to the true viciousness of the place I grew up in, I was suddenly confronted by how deliberately ignorant and hateful so many people back home have become. Every moral that I had grown up believing in was tossed aside by some of the very people I grew up next to. Never had I seen white supremacy, sexism, and homophobia on such clear and proud display. The biggest kicker for me was the passage of a conceal and carry law in Missouri. Instead of passing common sense gun control measures akin to what we use to regulate cars, Missouri decided the more guns on the street, the better. Now, being a gay man who’s sexuality is pretty much despised all over my hometown, why on earth would I ever have a wedding there or decide to buy a cabin retreat anywhere near there? It’s a devastating realization to understand how truly backwards the backwoods of my home state have become. Most recently a man I haven’t seen or spoken to in over 23 years decided to copy pictures of me and my boyfriend and post them on his Facebook wall to slam me with vitriol for who I am. This man is a gun toting, “Christian" from a suffering small town. And he’s not the only one to lash out at me.
My initial response right after the election was that many people will die because of Donald Trump being elected. I feared for the life of myself and my boyfriend. After only a month into Trump’s America, much of my dread has turned to hope, however. People are being exposed for who they really are and what they really believe. Truth is being defined and defended in a way it never has before. And I pray that four years from now, even if things get worse for all of us, we are all better for it. There’s no gain without pain, right? And I pray America finds its moral center again, especially the small, rural towns like the one I grew up in that taught me morality was caring for your neighbor as you care for yourself, walking the extra mile even for a stranger, and using your God given mind to educate yourself about the wonderful, diverse, and beautiful planet around you, so in the end we all leave the world in a better place than how we found it.