Us vs. Them
Trump vs. Clinton
Republicans vs. Democrats
Blacks vs. Whites
Mexico vs. America
Capitalism vs. Socialism
Koch vs. Gates
Teachers vs. Students
Fossil Fuels vs. Renewables
I could go on, but you get the point. Hopefully.
Great final presidential skit on SNL this week. Both candidates break the fourth wall, embrace and run around Times Square hugging supporters and opponents (best one is Hillary’s tentative hug of a guy with “Trump that Bitch” on his t-shirt. Really!?! Was your “Misogynistic Asshole” t-shirt in the wash?)
Ah, if life was only as easy as a SNL skit.
This election has been astounding. Not just because of the candidates but how it has brought out the country’s polarization. There are two distinct Americas, choose your side, black or white, there is no grey.
I call my school the Island of Misfit Toys from the Christmas special, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”; nobody fits in so everybody fits in. That’s how we roll; we are a safe environment for difference. We support a strict, “Don’t Yuck my Yum” philosophy. We aggressively discourage bullying, racism and separation. We teach that there is no Us vs. Them in education because we are all just doing our best to get through life together. It takes work and vigilance and support but it is the right way to learn.
But this election is all about separation. Pulling America apart, saying there is a right and a wrong, black and white only and you have to choose because grey is for the weak. Grey is for the stupid.
Democracy should be grey. Democracy is compromise. Democracy is understanding others views and listening and debating why your views are better. And sometimes changing your views or accepting others. Democracy is like a marriage where if you don’t compromise, you’re sunk. Have strong opinions and know who you are but listen to your wife because she also has strong opinions and knows who she is (remember, that’s why you married her).
My hope is that in the weeks following the election we realize separation is not the answer and set a new course together. Think about why this polarization happened and what the other side is so damn angry about. Change what we can then move forward to solve some of the universal issues (quality of life, homelessness, climate change, financial corruption, equality).
It’s time for society to stop swimming in the excrement pool and realize that we are all living on the Island of Misfit Toys.