Veterans Are Fair

This was written in 2016. Much of it remains relevant.

My Dad served in the Signal Corps during World War II. Throughout his life, he remarked on how lucky he’d been to never see combat, that he never had to kill, never had to watch in horror as a friend fell in battle. In April of 1945, Dad was among the first to learn that the war in Europe was about to end. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about Germany’s imminent surrender, but he soon discovered that word had gotten out anyway. Celebration. Jubilation. Peace!

Dad was…well, maybe not quite apolitical, but not strictly beholden to one party. I’d guess he was registered as a Democrat; I remember him remarking several times that he’d regretted voting for FDR and JFK, but I believe he voted for Humphrey in ’68. I have no idea whether or not he voted for Reagan in the ’80s. I think he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic Primary (insisting that it shouldn’t be Barack Obama’s turn yet), and then voted for Obama in the general election. He had many Republican friends, and he certainly voted for Republicans whenever he felt it was appropriate. Dad passed away in hospice at the VA Hospital in Syracuse in 2012, grateful for the long life he’d lived. I don’t miss him in exactly the sense you’d think, because he is with me every day, in everything I do. Dad was just one hell of a guy, and he taught me long ago to cherish family, friends, and love. Everything that’s ever been any damned good about me comes from my family.

Dad cherished fairness. After Bill Clinton’s election in 1992, Dad was appalled to hear idiots on the radio crowing in anticipation of all the things that were sure to go wrong during this new Clinton Administration, wetting themselves over the chance to tell us I told you so! Dad was furious with that. They want the country to fail!, he said. He couldn’t believe that any American, on the right or the left, could actively root against the country’s well-being.

And I’m not going to do what my Dad hated; not even as Donald Trump prepares to become the President.

Dad would never have voted for Trump. He would have rejected the hateful elements of Trump’s campaign, and he would have voted for Hillary Clinton. But that’s not the point. Trump won the election. He will be our 45th President. And I hope the republic stands. I hope the republic thrives.

None of this is meant to dismiss the anger, disappointment, and even fear that many of us feel this week. Trump’s rhetoric has been divisive and scary. There is ample reason to be nervous about President Trump.

But I think as Dad would have. We need to support this land we love. We need to hope. This doesn’t mean we can just go along with any crazy notion foisted upon us; we still stand fast with our core beliefs, our belief in justice, our belief in racial equality, women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and our belief in protecting this planet from the devastation of climate change. We don’t surrender these values any more than Republicans surrendered their values during the Obama Administration. We fight. But we fight within the system, and we seek to find common ground with our friends on the right. They love this country, too. We can work together to save social security, to rebuild infrastructure, protect our citizens, and preserve our future. We can take care of our veterans, for God’s sake. And I hope we can figure out some way to salvage affordable health care, and improve upon it.

Time is on our side. A majority of Americans support progressive ideals, the results of this election notwithstanding. We will continue to work toward a more perfect union–a fairer union. Just like Dad would have wanted.

Not my President. That’s become a popular phrase this week, as we deal with the sick feeling in our guts as we contemplate Donald Trump’s electoral victory. But, come January 20th, Donald Trump will be our President, like it or not. I don’t like it. I hate it. And I’m not going to suddenly start liking it, either, Nonetheless, I’m going to hope. I’m going to call on the President-Elect to publicly renounce hatred, to remind us once again that we can be–we are–one country, in spite of our differences, and, in fact, stronger because of them. Race, creed, gender, sexual identity, party affiliation, even musical taste–these are categories. These are adjectives, and we are nouns. People. Americans. We fight. We unite. We prevail.

Don’t argue with my Dad.

My niece and my Dad, when they were still with us. A long time ago.