The election is over. I voted, and I hope you did, too.
I'd like to think you voted for the same men and women I did. But that's not the way it works, and that's a good thing in a democracy. We vote our consciences, hopefully not the way husbands, bosses, dictators or thugs intimidating campaign buses tell us to vote.
I don't recall ever failing to vote in a major election, and I've lived through and worked on more than a few.
As I write this, it's too early to say who won this year's presidential election.
But no matter who won, America lost.
It will take more than one president, maybe more than two, to heal our country, to renew the respect we Americans once had for each other, much less for the Statue of Liberty and the immigrants she welcomed. After all, she didn't just welcome the Albert Einsteins, the wealthy, the talented. She greeted the tired, the poor and the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
In a war of hate, lies, racism and a pandemic, this country has been fighting over everything from whether it's OK to expose others to a deadly virus to whether it's OK for boot-strapped men armed with assault rifles but no police badges to invade a state capitol and patrol our streets.
We Americans can't even agree on whether it's OK to cage small children, to take breast-feeding babies from their mothers, or to demean our dead soldiers as "losers" and "suckers."
Domestic terrorists plot to kidnap a governor, and some people didn't seem to think it mattered because she was, after all, a Democrat, not to mention a powerful woman.
Americans fret over abortion--not whether we're going to be forced to have one but whether another woman can choose to have one if she's raped, facing death or other horrible circumstances. But we never hear a word about the fate of that pregnant woman once she's delivered the baby. Too many Americans frankly don't care about her once she's no longer pregnant. Some are instead too busy worrying that she might get food stamps to pay for baby food and her food.
Let truly concerned leaders suggest that both the mother and the baby would be far better off if we'd provide them with access to birth control and affordable health care, and the naysayers respond with cries of "Socialism!" They sometimes also cry "Communism!"--a clue that they haven't checked a dictionary in recent years.
The current president who says he's pro-life and other politicians, including at least one from Arkansas, have repeatedly endangered the lives of Asian Americans with racist references to the coronavirus. Yet the pro-life forces are silent, just as many of them also are when politicians tempt the unhinged by saying it's OK to bring guns onto college campuses, into stores and churches--just don't make anyone wear a mask.
Yes, China handled the virus badly at first but, unlike our own government, later took control. The White House instead stays busy pretending the virus is "rounding the curve" and mocking cautious Americans who wear masks to protect others. After all, narcissists apparently value the economy, as in their wallets, more than they care about the lives of the elderly and others. Don't they realize that the economy will rebound only after we control the virus?
We elect politicians, even in Arkansas, who assert that you can't be a Democrat and a Christian. I would love to compare those politicians' lives with that of my late father's, a lifelong Democrat and a Christian. He didn't belittle others because of their political views even when he disagreed with them. He didn't hate anyone--not Blacks, not Asians, not poor people, not atheists, not Muslims, not Baptists, not Republicans. And he'd certainly have never dumped his wife of 70 years for another woman, then asked so-called evangelical Christians to support him.
I cannot conceive of the America in 2020 seeing fit to pass meaningful civil-rights legislation or health-care programs. I hope I'm wrong, for we need both. If anything, I fear the America of 2020 will do the reverse, given the hate and greed that are so rampant in this country.
I don't understand how people can honestly think that the compassionate and the brave among us are the suckers. Still, if I had to choose, I'd rather be a compassionate sucker than a rich woman leaving my crumbs for the beggar at the gate.
Too many of us seem to have forgotten that the Bible so many profess to believe says we are to love our neighbor, and that doesn't mean just the wealthy white family in the two-story, four-bedroom brick house next door. That neighbor may be a Mexican immigrant, a Syrian refugee, a Pentecost, a Mormon, an American, an African, a Democrat, a Republican.
We are to love him or her if we believe the Bible. And frankly the commandment is wise advice even for those who consider the Bible to be nothing more than great literature.
The problem in America in 2020 is not conservatism or liberalism. The problem isn't immigrants. The problem isn't socialism, guns or abortion. The problem is narcissism, greed, hate.
We are the problem.
Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.