Delusion and Personal Road Blocks

Antique pen and inkwell

Antique pen and inkwell

I don’t know my own country as well as I thought I did. In some ways we are strangers now, and I’ve been wrestling with the outcome of our national election to understand why I still feel so far away from the way things actually are.

I stayed up watching election returns last night until ten o’clock, when I decided that waking up this morning might feel like Christmas Day. Wow! Was I wrong or what? It was like waking up to find coal in my stocking with no explanation of what I had done to deserve it.

The myriad subterfuges and distractions by both political parties over the past year led me to misread and badly misinterpret the needs and desires of most of my fellow Americans. I saw their outward rage but failed to understand that their chief target was the status quo and its lingering, empty promises. I also neglected to grasp their profound nostalgia for a more stable America, one that existed before this present era of swift and extraordinary changes that, for many Americans, have made the world around them seem to be spinning out of control. Those needs required a revolution.

I omitted the strong factor of fear experienced by the working class, who find that “getting ahead’” is often only for other folks. My rose-colored glasses didn’t really see the terror through racial division and the ever-present, if subliminal, conviction that our Norman Rockwell, 1950’s, white- home, apple pie community was, to many, being sabotaged by a growing inclusion of Blacks, gays, Mexicans, Muslims, etc., (at least in the media), who were becoming a bit too uppity by enjoying more equal status and, therefore, had to be reviled by squinted info sources like Fox News, a media empire that has made The National Enquirer look like The New York Times.

In a subtler way, women themselves had to be punished for the supreme audacity of supposing they could actually be equal. Imagine a female who, instead of staying home to bake biscuits, was brilliant and courageous enough to be the leader of The Western World. This was simply too much for middle America to digest and short-circuited many brains in their monumental efforts to discredit and revile her, ignoring completely the  great things she had done over many years and using nonsensical distractions against her over things only a tenth as dangerous as those done by male presidents of the past sixty years.

I finally reached the conclusion that the election process this time had less to do with actual issues than with fantasy and powerful emotions on the part of voters, who saw what they needed or wanted to see instead of checking facts carefully along the way. Myths are created when people need them and even need to believe them, good or bad. Demonizing with lies and tweaked “truths” became an art form during this election. The Republican candidate went over the top, hurling insults that sounded like a Las Vegas nightclub routine of Don Rickles or Redd Foxx that had nothing whatever to do with improving life in America. Denouncing the opposition reached a new political and moral low. Fear, misogyny, and racism became the ammunition sharpened and aimed carefully at everything and everyone outside Beaver Cleaver’s and Donna Reed’s households.

One of the greatest shocks for me was the cavalier way those calling themselves Christians excused the raw meanness of spirit of the man promising to “make America great again” as though Christ himself had been hijacked and replaced by some golden idol that could do no wrong and must be worshiped instead. I don’t think I was the only one to wear rose-colored specs. In the end, perhaps it’s really just about power and money, not about ideals, which in this election have taken on the nature of double-talk and hypocrisy.

The American philosophy of tolerance, charity, and equality has somehow, perhaps by anger, greed, fear, and ignorance, been packed away as though in some old cedar chest and replaced by things I cannot recognize. All I can do is wait and see what unfolds over the next four years. I’d be happy and grateful to find that even a pompous windbag filled with promises and empty catch-phrases could bring us together as a continuing and prosperous nation, but the word “together” no longer seems to have meaning in the new order, in which I fear we will be splintered and see mostly divisive chaos with only a very painful lesson to be learned before the next election (barring an impeachment process). The people have indeed spoken, but I fail to understand where they believe we’re going now as a country.  JB

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About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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2 Responses to Delusion and Personal Road Blocks

  1. Dennis Zelenke says:

    TERRIFIC ESSAY! Check out Garrison Keillor’s comments on my FB. DZ

  2. ronee luttringer says:

    love this!

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