Originally posted on my Patreon writing page.
I am Generation X. I was born in 1968 and was raised in-part by 1970-80s television. I can't fucking believe what's happening to my country.
Sesame Street taught me to embrace diversity. Mister Rogers taught me that I'm special and unique and that I can grow anything in the garden of my mind. (Click the source link. You won't be sorry.)
Mary Richards showed me single women can thrive in the workplace and The Bionic Woman made me believe women can be strong and kick some serious ass.
Rhoda Morgenstern helped me understand that the love of your life might end in divorce and if that happens, you'll be okay. Who's The Boss introduced me to the idea that a woman can earn more money than a man and employ one as her housekeeper. (Tony Danza showed me there's no shame in honest work.)
I learned that wealthy white men like Mr. Drummond weren't secretly racist. Moonlighting and Remington Steele showed me that women can run successful detective agencies where they're the ones calling the shots.
The Jefferson's and the Huxtables were proof that white people weren't the only ones who were intelligent, successful and wealthy. (Bill Cosby turned out to be a horrible man, but that doesn't alter the fact that The Cosby Show helped to change the perception of black families in a positive way.)
I could go on. Clearly, I watched a lot of television. Despite the bad rap it often receives, it was one of my more entertaining classrooms and helped to shape my world view. From where I was sitting, it appeared America was progressing.
In the 1980s we got used to seeing women winning in the workplace. They'd wear suits and heels in the office and trade in their pumps for Reeboks as they ventured home. As a young girl, being raised by a single working mother, I felt empowered when I saw strong, independent women holding their own in a fast-paced world.
I was under the impression that gender equality was solidified and that the color of one's skin no longer determined one's level of success.
I was wrong.
America was, and still is, diverse but we've taken a wrong turn and now we're heading in the opposite direction.
Before I go further, I'd like to acknowledge that the Civil Rights Movement did more for people of color than any television show. Planned Parenthood, the right to chose and the ongoing feminist movements provided women the freedom to live the way they wanted without having to rely on men. My point is, that as a young person, I watched the world on TV and I believed it mirrored society. All the equality gains we'd made as nation appeared to be paying off in a big way and I thought it would continue to get even better.
Adding to the idea that American culture was accepting of diversity was my experience living in Soviet Russia during the 1980/81 school year. I got to see communism up-close and personal. Nothing made me feel more patriotic than living in a foreign police state.
In 2012, I spoke at the We Are Woman rally at the Capitol Building and I was approached by documentary filmmaker Kamala Lopez (Equal Means Equal) who asked me if I believed American women enjoyed equality. Despite the Republican war On Women that heated up just after the 2010 midterm elections, I answered, "Yes." She corrected me and explained that there's no gender equality clause in the Constitution. I wrote about it in detail here.
As a Gen Xer, I find it difficult to watch a huge chunk of our society regressing. When I see white people calling the police on law-abiding black people I feel sick. When I see police officers shoot and kill unarmed black people, I feel sick and hopeless.
Watching Trump's cult chant "LOCK HER UP" when they don't like a woman's liberal ideology scares the crap out of me. I'm an outspoken liberal woman. What will that mean for me or other women who aren't afraid to challenge the patriarchy?
Even though I feel sickened, fearful and sometimes hopeless, I refuse to let those emotions to dictate my actions. There's so much wrong with our culture now and there are many who wish to see the American experiment fail.
There are more of us than there are of them. It's easy to believe that because our country was founded on the premise of being a diverse melting pot where citizens can live freely and pursue happiness, we will never become a fascist dictatorship. Believing this is a huge mistake. Anything can happen and when we don't pay attention, bad things do happen. Children are caged, the president is attacking the free press and women's reproductive rights are being rolled back, repealed and extinguished.
I saw, with my own eyes, a nation of citizens who knew if they spoke out against their own government, they'd either go to prison or simply disappear. I saw Russians walking with their heads down as they headed to their dilapidated, tiny, one-bedroom apartments they shared with five or more relatives. I saw the fear in their eyes and I saw the forced-allegiance to a government that treated them like slaves.
If you think it could never happen here, don't forget that in July 1932, the Nazi party gained 37.4% of the vote in the Reichstag elections to become the largest party in Germany. From 1933 to 1934 Adolf Hitler consolidated his power so that by the end of 1934 he held supreme power throughout Germany.
It can happen here and if enough of us get too comfortable or complacent, it will happen here. The effort is in place. Russia attacked the United States, and helped to install Trump, who is dismantling democracy. Perhaps I might have been labeled an alarmist for saying this a year ago, but considering what's unfolded on the world stage since January 2017, more and more people can see this is precisely the direction we're headed.
The great news is people have risen to the occasion and made their voices heard with protests and their votes. Democrats won big last week and because of that, we have a new lifeline.
It won't be smooth sailing. The energy we saw during the midterms must be sustained because 2020 is closer than it appears. Those who want to rob the country of its original intent must know they have to fight and defeat We The People in order to win.
Voters will have a tremendous opportunity in the next presidential election to catapult us forward which will allow us to successfully address the racial and gender inequality that is keeping us from the greatness we're capable of.
Call me a Pollyanna if you wish, but I'm actually begging you to stay strong and keep the faith. We can't lose faith or we will lose everything.
We can change the country with our votes
We can take a shitty Congress, and suddenly make most of them progressive.
It's you voter, and you should know it
With each vote and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have the country, why don't you take it
We can make it after all -- but only if we vote
Okay, I know that play on the Mary Tyler Moore theme song was totally lame and very corny, but I don't care. We do have the power, we just need to use it.