Who Are We, America?

In just over one week, America’s 2020 election will come to an end. We will either elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice-president, or, we will re-elect Donald Trump and Mike Pence. This election will reveal America’s heart. It will show the world who we are. It will also reveal who we are, to us, the American people. This is one of those ‘Look in the mirror” elections.

The Trump Administration is no longer a possibility. It is a vicious reality. We have watched four years of policies, chaos, and cruelty. He abandoned our allies and emboldened dictators. He has given voice to white supremacy. He has encouraged racists and radical right-wing militias. His administration deliberately put children in cages, separating them from their families. Then, his administration has been unable and unwilling to reunite these broken families. We have seen this president ignore Black people murdered by police, while he praises the need for “law and order.” He has degraded women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people in both language and policies. He has refused to see any minorities as part of the American family.

He has lied to us constantly.

He totally botched the American response to the Covid-19 pandemic because he has no idea how to organize, listen, or empower others. His incompetence has resulted in the deaths of 225,061 Americans as of this writing. He refused to coordinate a national response to the virus and as a result of his refusal, we had fifty governors fighting each other for ventilators, personal protective equipment, and hospital beds. His administration has gutted environmental regulations and degraded the objectivity of Justice Department. Unfortunately, the list of damage could go on and on.

Is this who we are? I hope it isn’t. But it might be.

Is America as racist, sexist, and cruel as Donald Trump? It might be.

No one can act like they don’t know what four more years of his administration will mean. Everyone who voted for him in 2016 might not have been a racist, but they didn’t mind handing the country over to one. He has consistently shown us who he is. He is not subtle.

If, after these last four years, people can still vote for him, then they are deliberately choosing his cruelties. If America re-elects this man, there is no avoiding that this is simply who we are as a country.

On the other hand, there is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. They are decent, empathetic, intelligent people. They are competent leaders and we have a good sense of what their priorities will be if they are elected. They are not perfect, as no one is.

We will either reveal ourselves to be a country of compassion, a nation of competence and civility, or we will show ourselves to be a vicious people, who do not care how our manner in the world affects others.

I know who I think we are. I certainly know who I want us to be.

But either way, we will find out who we are. Who are you, America?

Photo Credit: The photograph above was taken in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C. by J. Ross

Published by www.JosephRoss.net

Poet & Teacher. Author of four books of poetry: Raising King (2020) Ache (2017) Gospel of Dust (2013) Meeting Bone Man (2012)

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