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I’m Thankful There Aren’t Any Tanks

The last four years have been hard for women, minorities, the gay community, immigrants, anyone that’s worked for Trump and had a different opinion from the president, anyone that doesn’t think it’s ok to bully others or collude with a foreign government. Ok, well the last four years have been hard for most of us. Waiting for the election, planning for the election, managing concerns about the validity of the process and waiting on the results was unimaginably hard.

It’s no wonder that I, like many Americans, feel fatigued. I also feel like I’ve been pranked. I still walk around unconsciously holding my breath in anticipation of receiving news that the election is not final, and the prank continues. As I think about the weariness in my soul, I reflect on the various failures of our established system which had no way to immediately rectify the debacle of the Trump presidency. While none of us could have predicted how low we would sink, we had a pretty good idea we were heading on a downward spiral right after Trump was elected.

After the 2016 election, Trump showed great interest in stalking and denigrating former President Barak Obama by solely focusing on weakening or dismantling the Affordable Care Act. He was adept at tweeting but lacked the necessary attention required to draft policy and instead set his sights on building the wall. Trump publicly said over and over that Mexico would pay for the wall. He said it so much that I, who really should have known better, began to question if he was right and maybe he did have some unknown power to compel Mexico to do so. President Trump's power was in repeating false statements in ways that made you question reality. Sadly, this was just the beginning. Most of us walked around like deer caught in headlights all day, every day. For four years.

There was no legal way to end our despair any sooner. When others around me would frequently say, well he's not my president, I would be quiet because while I certainly understood this sentiment, throughout Trump's term I have always thought he was my president. Why? Because he in fact became just that four years ago. Like it or not, in 2016, Donald Trump was duly elected and rightly sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Some Americans might have been misled or duped by foreign interference; however, the Russians didn’t vote, we did.

To end the Trump presidency, we couldn’t circumvent our own process. We had to follow the rules of democracy which is our voting method. When we endure what we have endured for the last four years, you may think it’s terribly flawed. Now that I can exhale a bit, I say that actually it continues to work, even against all odds.

As hard as it was, America has a tried and true method to end aspiring dictatorships. However, our method is not immediate, requires considerable input from the citizenry, and has many cumbersome built-in safeguards to protect its sanctity. When it’s followed, we largely can’t undo what’s been done until the next scheduled time. However, let us not forget that while our system doesn’t allow for immediate do-overs it also doesn’t result in military tanks rolling down occupied streets with heavily armed men perched atop, with guns blaring as visible and threatening signs of an insurrection or revolt. I actually witnessed such a scene firsthand in Africa 33 years ago. You don’t know fear until you see this up close and realize you are in a place that amazingly feels like home but isn’t because you don’t know the rules of engagement and consequently find yourself at a significant disadvantage. As I recall this event, I remember my eyes wideninig in disbelief and fear pulsing through every part of my body. My whole body felt as if it was on fire.

Flawed as America is, agree with it or not, I know the rules and I know I am far from powerless. I’m not rich and yet my vote carries the same weight as a billionaire. When I join with fellow Americans on a Tuesday in November, I exercise power beyond guns and tanks, power which holds for a minimum of four years. The power has always been our vote. I am incredibly thankful that, notwithstanding the tantrums of a loser, that right remains true. May it ever be so, and may God bless America.

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