Horror. Anger. Despair. My world was ending… All of those were feelings I felt when Netherlands eliminated Mexico in the last World Cup competition. Every four years for the longest time, I get my hopes up (way up) and follow Mexico’s qualification toward the World Cup. Every four years I think to myself that this is the year, that this time we’ll win it all. They play a good first round, showing signs that they can hold off even the best teams in the world.
And then, without a doubt, I am disappointed. My heart gets broken. And I lay around the house not wanting to do anything for a while. “Maybe in four years,” I tell myself. “The qualifiers begin again in two.”
Oh, yeah, this is supposed to be about last night’s election, right?
Yes, it was very disappointing to see a man who is endorsed by the KKK and other White Nationalist movements be elected to be our 45th President. It was very disappointing to see so many people scared of a diverse and open society where people of different colors, ethnicities, religions, and sexual preferences are treated as equals. And it was very disappointing to see so many men be scared out of their minds at the thought of a woman in the Oval Office.
But that, dear friends, is the world we live in.
I couldn’t sleep well last night because I’ve been getting over a head cold. In between the times that I was awake, I had a pretty good dream where I was back in Mexico, sitting in the garden at my grandparents’ home. Grandpa was there with me. “You’re just going to have to snap out of it and move on,” he said. “That’s what I did all those years. That’s what you need to do right now. Don’t let this consume you.”
Indeed. Grandpa’s life was all about fighting the perfect dictatorship in Mexico that lasted throughout his life. He didn’t get to see it end in 2000, the first time I ever voted. But it did end, and I’d like to think that he had something to do with it. He was active in local and state politics. He donated time and money to making sure the dictatorship was eroded a little bit at a time until it collapsed in August of 2000 after 71 years of ruling with an iron fist made up of secret organizations, corrupt institutions, and lack of access for the non-political class.
The next two years are going to be interesting for me on a personal level. I’ll be finishing up the DrPH and looking for a job where people won’t look twice when I want to go somewhere dangerous. And, all the while, working hard to support the causes that I believe in. That support will take the form of time, money, or any of my talents. And, in two years, a strong push to help bring balance to our government. Yeah, it’ll be rough. Yeah, there’ll be a lot of disappointments and emboldened fascists will think that they have some sort of mandate. Yeah, it’s going to sting a little bit.
See, when the PRI won elections in Mexico, the following weeks to months were all about “priistas” thinking that they could silence my grandfather, my dad and uncles, and anyone else who opposed them. They thought that they had one some major existential war, and that the opposition would fade into darkness. Today, there are already plenty of signs of people thinking that they have “their country” somehow “given back” to them, as if America was someone being held hostage by all the Blacks, Browns, gays and vaginas. They felt excluded, afraid, worried that their precious babies would not be free while all the while ignoring that the country hasn’t been this free in its history.
Freedom, it seems, has varied definitions.
So like I do with Mexico at the World Cup, let’s take the good with the bad:
- The Senate is going to be 48-52. Republicans won’t have the super-majority they’ll need to shut down filibusters. Democrats will have to pick and choose which battles to filibuster on, and I’m sure one of them will be over Justice Scalia’s replacement.
- Chief Justice Roberts has shown himself to be a wise judge. If someone gets put on the Supreme Court that is far to the right, this will only shift the Chief Justice more toward the middle.
- Several states voted to approve/decriminalize medical or recreational marijuana. That puts a dent on the “war on drugs.” It’s work that needs to continue so that the drug cartels are hit financially and people don’t lose all opportunities in life because they once lit up one at some concert.
- I met dozens of people this week who are absolutely committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of the people of the WORLD, not just the United States. And they refuse to stop working no matter who is at the top.
You — yes, you — might have thought that last night’s election results would have made me, and people like me, cower and go hide. You might think that Muslims will change their tune and become Christians, or something. Or that Mexicans will stop coming over the border legally or illegally. Heck, in that world of yours, you might think that LGBT marriages will be dissolved and that “they” will magically fade away. You might even, illogically, think that “they” are not “us,” and that “us” are not “we.”
We The People, get it?
On the balance of things, last night seems like a very bad thing for our country and the world. It feels almost as if we’re seeing the rise of a new kind of far-right authoritarian, protectionist government that will lead us all into darkness. Well, if we are going into darkness, we are going to need some lights to show the way. And you can choose to be the light, or be the darkness.
I suggest you not be the darkness.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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