It was a hot itchy Saturday summer afternoon the kind that makes one sluggish and slow. It was roughly 3:00pm to be exact, early July 2017 while celebrating a 6-year-old birthday party at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, CA when a gold chained party invitee calls out, “haaay, what about Trump.” Before anyone could answer and fumble onto each other trying to catch the question tumbling up in the air, we all looked at one another to see who would dare catch the question. Half of the guests were at the pool cooling off and some of us, about eight adults sat around tables under the shade of a beautiful thick branched tree.
The question turned into a mini cluster explosion, it ignited the space we all sat around. The release of ‘what about trump’ turned the aroma of the surrounding natural greenery into a nauseating irritating smell of sulfur. It must have taken 30 seconds before anyone would answer. Given that there was no immediate reply, the question was followed up by the very same person who tossed it in the air like a Hail Mary during a football game, “well I’m on five different networks and they are saying Trump has Alzheimer’s. Boy, are they saying some nasty things!”
That was the kick off that started a heated debate. I answered soon after, “There are many who identify with him. They feel he is the one that represents them the most —regardless if he is rich and they are poor.” Someone else adds, “oh I can’t stand the man.” The over spill of comments that begin to fly out were far from a big splash. They were loose with no specific concrete argument. In fact, most comments were quite polite. After all, we were all in a child’s birthday party setting. There was no room for an adult discussion on the subject. So, I thought! The subtle responses were nowhere close nor were they too far from a George Orwell’s 1984 scene were upon the shear image of big brother swiped across an audience like a debit card was enough to trigger a series of emotional outbursts of discomfort. The discussion carried on, and sooner than later it had winded enough tension everyone steady like a volley of bullets simultaneously took a shoot at the question. It was a conversation that crisscrossed the green lawn in every direction that burned as if it was on a skillet; it sizzled and smoked.
And there we were adults at a child’s birthday party in the midst of a political catharsis. A school principal adds, “Hillary should have won.” My delayed response was “well, from the beginning everything pointed to Bernie Sanders as the best contender to defeat Donald Trump. Let’s not forget how Bernie and voters were cheated out by the DNC. The same party most here belongs too! Out of the two, Bernie had the strongest arguments and the best interest for just about everyone.”
The immediate rebuttal was, “it was Bernie like Nader’s followers that stole the votes away.” The blame was darted at Bernie Sanders and his ‘messiah followers’ as the culprits for the country’s present fiasco. It made no difference pointing out the unscrupulous foul play by democrats against Bernie. It seemed to bother no one.
I sparred back against the blaming to which everyone in unison seemed to agree with a, “yes, its Bernie’s fault.” I whipped out to answer with, “You are forgetting the hawkishness politics of Hillary and her war mongering agenda as well as being one of the strongest advocates for the arms industry.”
A sticky comment, “How could you say that, isn’t Bernie a socialist” came flying across from the outer circle, near the tree.
The impact I expected to make as I pointed out Hillary’s hawkish politics was sliced in half before it could land and thump out all the flying debris running between us all.
I could feel the steam beginning to whistle and roll out my ears starting to tingle. I dropped an, “And.” It was another cluster that rattled everyone in a state of shock.
The feel of getting nowhere had yet not kicked in, it was all against one. My attempt was to ground the discussion on a series of ethical concerns and away from a distorted dry view of ‘politics as usual.’ With a small pinch of justice, I was appealing to what I thought was commonsense and away from ideological accusations.
The boat was sinking, and the only lifeguard left I tossed it to history, so it could save itself from drowning and bring to evidence past historical patterns. I’d hope it could come to the aide of this sinking to the bottom conversation. To no avail, all adults seem to care less for the sinking boat they were on. They’d rather continue rallying unconsciously for empire and drown like the orchestra band on the Titanic ship that kept playing to no end. The patriotic fervor and class began to sneak its way out and smoke screen some relevant truths. Any deductive argumentation that could hold open the doors of history– was now under the tyranny of loyal patriotic emotions.
Whenever we elect someone to the White House will determine the outcome of either peace or war, or perpetuate Orwell’s famous double talk phrase of ‘Peace is war and war is peace.’ It was either cooperation or perpetual hostility, collaboration or perpetual sanctions and the continuation of unsymmetrical relations with the global south or all the above.
There was no telling what next.
“Look” says an adjunct computer instructor, “I don’t want to save the world. I have my own problems to solve.”My silent reply of “really, as if the rest of the world did not matter” instantly turned into a cartoon speech bubble floating above our heads like a helium balloon between the natural green canopy and us. I ignored his comment and felt it best to let it fly and dissipate somewhere far away and/or inhale the helium and mock his reply with a funny chipmunk voice that comes with a dose of helium in one’s mouth.
It seemed that in their eyes I’d become a thick mustache bandolero with non-illustrate bullets that could not shoot straight. They’d been deflected by a shield of fake news punch lines and drilled colonized views of others. My silver bullets dipped in history were not working. I was sterilized, and they’ve been immunized by a monster of a thousand heads; the western hegemonic media known for sucking the bone marrow out of truths and instantly spitted out a waste of lies.
The search to inch across a better and just country was lost. Instead the elections proved that people were tired and confused of the same political conversations of past previous presidents on both sides of the political spectrum.
Whilst the democrats fought and cheated amongst themselves for the candidacy, the republicans some willingly and others not, their point man had outpaced all candidates. Donald Trump was all geared and ready to full steam straight ahead to become the 45th president of the United States.
Just when dormant folks who’d lost all hope of having one their own conservative selfie’s sitting and manning straight from the white house, Trump steps into the core sentiments of a nation build on prejudices and racism to give them a fresh dose of oxygen. He’d rattled and fiddled a familiar tune that whistled across like an ultra violet ray visible only to those who understood what he meant by “Let’s Make America Great (White) Again.”
The birthday party conversation mangled between barbwire had opened a national Pandora’s Box. It became a quagmire. By now it had cooled off and the tree’s leaves flickered like butterfly wings with the late afternoon incoming wind. There seemed to be no way out. “But” adds a special ed. instructor, “that’s how thing have always been.” She broke the string of the back and forth monotonous quarrel on Trump and took it to a dead end. I reached out again to history for some assistance. Her family was linked to a particular moment in Guatemala’s history. In 1954 the democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz would be ousted by a military coup conspired with the support of United States Government. This incident would shape Guatemala’s outcome for future generations to come.
The movement of history had ebbed across time. I saw this as an opportunity to tie in the discussion with some personal relevance. I said, “Look what happened in Guatemala the overthrow of it democratically government with the U.S. help.” The instructor startled at my remark answered, “That is the past we are in the present.”
I replied: “Then what about Vietnamese who to this very day suffer the injuries of all the chemical weapons dropped on them”.
“You are in the past that is how things are. We can’t do anything about it.” That would be the last oil spill to cause everyone to body language each other ‘it’s time to pick and start heading out.’
To point out incidents that could help bring a global understanding was pointless. I was closed off as arguing with an antiquated conversation. A conversation amongst educated and reasonable group on behalf crucial historical truths and past references had been deemed as outdated. It no longer played a role in a critical discussion. The analysis required to sort out truths and facts away from a western perspective continued to cloud some visible ironies.
As we all started to gather the cups, food and clean the area the school principal ready to leave turns around in my direction lifts her fist up in air and with accentuated humor say, “Viva la Raza.” I thought ok a teasing civil way to end a pleasant and revealing afternoon; safe and respectful. I bit my lips and smiled at her.
Everyone started to their cars and just before I put the boom box in the instructor’s trunk as we said good bye she drops her last punch line, “Ok, no more politics for you.”
Despite it was not I who started the conversation on Trump, my doubts were; this was neither the place nor the time for such a conversation. Good thing the kids were out jumping and playing.
I left in deep thought thinking ‘these are professionals that care, who more than once have shared some discomforting and sad stories, yet were road blocked from taking it any further and beyond.’ It seemed that they were caught in a matrix made of a binary political system were choices were limited to two options in accord to class interest. Any alternative was just out of the question. It was inconceivable and probably frightening. The symbolic gesture of voting in an Athenian democratic style of indirect representation seemed to be enough to satisfy their civil responsibility.
Or was it possible that our sensitivity too had been manufactured, influenced, or shaped by social engineers to fit a framework that prioritizes according to ‘America the Great’ or ‘Let’s Make America Great, Again?’
If anything, the birthday boy besides receiving gifts on that special day undoubtedly had given us the space to have inspired this story. Someday he or the children will read this story as a gift that went unnoticed by all the cheerful children on that special day. When that day comes around, lets us all hope that there still is a habitable planet regressing to a healthier body and that this current nightmare may come to an end with a political poem built on justice, sensitivity and politic that departs from the will of life and no longer from the will of power.