I had to go home from work yesterday because I started crying during Hillary’s (and then Obama’s) speech. In a government office where CNN is constantly on, I couldn’t escape it. I cried for my sister, who (due to pre-exisiting conditions) will probably lose her health care in the coming months, if Obamacare is repealed. My boyfriend (a mechanic turned student) would also lose his. Like many Millenial couples, we’re not married so he can’t be added to my health plan.
I know many, many people in our country are unhappy with the state of their lives. We all had to face harsh realities in the past 8 years. But the key word was REALITY: the USA had a mess to clean up, serious economic, environmental and social issues we had to address. And we were, but the growing pains were VERY apparent. I understand that Obama was asking A LOT of from a country that was entrenched in the way things were.
But I really believe this country was moving forward. Thousands of people finally were able to get insurance. Love was no longer being discriminated against, and my own sister (plus many other friends) was able to finally get married to her partner. We had a president who was actually addressing the fact that our environment was collapsing, and for our kids to literally have a viable PLACE TO LIVE in the future, a major overhaul of the current dependence on fossil fuel was not only necessary but MANDATORY.
And yes, these things changes were extremely difficult for a lot of people. Jobs based on oil, coal and gas were going away, insurance premiums were going up, and people were suffering the brunt of that. I know this. I’m not ignoring this. I see my friends struggling with this everyday. I wish insurance companies and oil corporations had stepped up to offer a cushion for their employees, giving them incentives for being healthy, and ways to transition to green energy careers. But they weren’t willing to take the financial hit the government was forced to hand out, and it ended up falling on the people. I don’t blame the government for trying to make us healthier and our environment cleaner. These are things that will benefit us in the longer run. But for half of our country, the immediacy of these decisions felt like an assault on their very livelihood. It was like a punch in the gut, which triggered a lot of anger.
For me, when faced with this reality, I had to ask myself “What’s more important? My personal finances or the viability of our planet? My bills, or a very sick person’s health?” I suppose it all comes down to “me vs. them.” Are we willing to sacrifice parts of our lives in order for others to have a better one? I think that those 2 schools of thought are really the driving force behind what happened during this election. Are we able to look beyond our own struggles, or is the pain, loss, anger and hardship too much for us to bear? I think that when we are in a state of panic over the thought of eviction, bankruptcy, default and poverty (of our children!) we are unable to see beyond those psychological blinders. And as many Trump supporters might say “Why should we?”
But some of us really believe that if we pay our due then the government will return the favor. I am evidence of that. When the housing market crashed, and the economy was so bad I couldn’t afford my own rent, I moved in with my mom and saved until I could find a place (with government assistance). I relied on Head Start (a government funded child care), I lived off food stamps and did what I could (including donating my own DNA to a childless couple) to finally get where I could support myself. It was a combination of hard work, luck (or the planets :P), government help and support from family and friends. I used government programs the way they were intended. I watched my mother in her job as a Social Worker, and saw how our taxes went to work to help people. I saw the struggles, the defeats, the cheaters, but also the success stories (me).
I am not an island. I would not be living a reasonably comfortable life without the help of my family and friends and YES the GOVERNMENT. As a head of household and primary breadwinner, I know I cannot do it alone. I too have a family relying on me to support them. I have bills to pay like everyone else. I think both sides of the divide can understand this! However, I do not blame my struggles on minorities or “illegals taking our jobs” or those who abuse the system. I don’t blame Obama for having to face almost a decade of problems to fix and making some of the most difficult decisions a president can make.
I don’t care that if taxes are high if that means a better education, health care and community resources for our kids. Some people do. I think racism, sexism, classism, and bigotry are behind a great many American’s decision making, but I know that good people voted for Trump too. People who’s lives were thrown into total chaos because of the changes Obama was making. I feel for all who suffered.
But I’m scared. I see people unwilling to be understanding and compassionate. The IDGAF attitude that elected Trump wanted to set a bomb off in our country’s face. OK, but how are we going to deal with the fallout? Who’s going to clean up (if possible) the mess? I feel like lines will be drawn, and innocent people like our children will suffer. There doesn’t need to be a war, but it’s almost as if people would rather see our country become an episode of the Walking Dead than continue the way it was going. And that scares the shit out of me.