Thursday, January 19, 2017

Troubled Times

November 8, 2016 was a busy day for me. In addition to the Presidential election, it was also the local elections for the three mayors and town council offices in Page County, my home for the last year-plus. As a reporter at the county's newspaper, it was my job to cover all of that. 

The elections were on a Tuesday and the newspaper is printed on a Wednesday. So, my Tuesday night was spent trying to figure out who was the mayor of Luray, and whether or not the woman who had been a town employee in Stanley since 1969 would get another four years on the town council, among other issues.

I wound up not getting done with everything until around 1 a.m. and as I was walking down the street from the newspaper office to my apartment, I finally got my phone out and began checking up on the Presidential election. All I knew at that point was that we still didn't have a 45th President.

I'm not as liberal as people think I am. But, I believe in common sense and equal rights. For years, I would make the point to anybody who would listen that gay marriage would be our generation's civil right's movement. Our grandchildren will literally be shocked and dumbfounded that a man wasn't able to marry a man. I don't give myself a political label, but I will say that off the top of my head, I don't know if there has ever been a Republican candidate for any office that I've ever supported.

I remember the first political debate I ever got into. It was in the ninth grade and it was in the lead up to the 2000 Election. This kid named Andrew said in his thick southern accent, "Al Gore's gonna take our guns away." Right away, despite only being 14, I knew that was the stupidest thing I had ever heard in my life. The only thing stupider than that comment was the fact that in the nearly 17 years since, I have heard that exact statement repeated ad nauseum but only with a different Democratic candidate's name in place.

The first presidential election I voted in was 2004. I had been in high school for September 11, 2001 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The idea of a war was scary for somebody my age in a different way than somebody older or younger -- my peers were going to Iraq and Afghanistan. I voted for John Kerry for two reasons: he wanted to end the war, and he was not opposed to stem cell research.

To look ahead, I see why "Make America Great Again" worked for a lot of people. Back in 2008, I was looking for "Hope" and "Change." And I got that. A lot of people did. 

I remember the feeling of January 20, 2009. It was the first day of the spring semester of my fifth year of college. And it was such a feeling of positive vibes. I remember walking around campus with my girlfriend and every television was on the inauguration and everybody seemed so happy. 

I remember feeling opposite of that in 2016 as I stared at my phone in disbelief after learning that Donald Trump had acquired enough electoral votes to become the 45th President.

I think now about the young college kids who won't have that feeling of optimism as they see the new leader of America sworn in. 

Healthcare. Women's rights. LGBTQ rights. All of these and more are in trouble. There's a feeling of uncertainty in America. I hope that the new President isn't as much of a train wreck as all signs are pointing that it will be. I'm also hopeful that Trump can inspire a nation of young people to grow up and be the opposite of him and his beliefs.

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