When we were in South Carolina working on the primaries I was assigned to Marco Rubio, a candidate that has since then dropped out the race. While I was never a Marco supporter myself the experience and time I had there made me rather sad when Rubio announced the end of his campaign. I had worked alongside dedicated students, men and women of all ages, who had sacrificed jobs, school, and time to come and work on this campaign. They all believed in the Rubio campaign with a certain light and geniality that I found refreshing. Getting to meet Marco and Nikki Haley added another layer of excitement too. But what saddens me now is not that Marco Rubio is no longer a contender, but rather the contenders we have left in the race.
It’s no surprise really that this years election has left us voters grappling at the idea of a Trump or Cruz presidency or a Clinton presidency. None of the candidates this year really has me bolting out my seat anymore, and it’s because all the candidates left don’t come across to me as individuals that will make this nation “better”. And when I say better, I mean a nation that is committed to address fundamental issues of inequality; systemic racisms and sexisms that perversely construct our institutions need to be addressed on a level that adequately commits our nation to solving them. And our presidential candidates right now just don’t seem to be doing that.
So I had a terrible thought: what if the candidates we’ve chosen are just brutal predictors of where our society is headed? Or just as worse, are products of where our society already has arrived.
North Carolina recently just passed HB2, a bill that prohibits cities and counties from writing non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBTQ+ people and veterans. This bill particularly targets the trans community, as people are now required to only enter the bathroom of their assigned biological sex.
I won’t even bother to get into all the layers and atrocities that this bill represents, but the fact that this bill has passed in my home state is not only disheartening but also infuriating. What kind of community, state, or nation, are we if we believe it is just to implement practices that are not just discriminatory but explicitly harmful. What kind of a society elects representatives that fundamentally do not understand the underlying realties of gender identity and would go back on decades of progress and inclusivity under the guise of “privacy” and “protection”? A society that would rather marginalize an already marginalized community even more for the sake of “protecting women” than take the steps necessary to teach our society to not rape or assault. How radical of an idea would it be to have a society that understood sexual assault was not okay? To understand that to truly “protect women” that includes our trans- community.
When I work on these presidential campaigns I can’t help but think “what will they do to make our future better?” and the resounding answer I’ve had these past few weeks is “nothing”. I’m not particularly the cynical or pessimistic type, in fact I try my hardest to be optimistic. But in light of recent events and the nature of this year’s election I am worried and afraid for our future generations and for the future that I will be entering into. We have entered a territory of politics that is so divisive that it hurting people’s lives. Have we become a society that really believes in these types of practices? Is that where were headed? Is that where we already are?
It’s a deafening thought. I am so sheltered by my academic books and rhetoric that I have forgotten the realities of where we are. Perhaps we have always been here and I am just now really seeing how intense the opposition is.
I am afraid and yet resolute. I will not accept it. If there’s anything else I learned from South Carolina and all the work we’ve done since, it’s that if we come together we can make change.
We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.