The big Pacific Storm is raging as I write this column. I live on a sailboat at Shilshole Bay Marina in Ballard, so the storm is quite literally swirling around me. When the big gusts hit, the boat lurches and shudders. The wind whistles and whirs loudly through the halyards, a dramatic sound track to the storm, letting us know that we are definitely not in control.
On Wednesday, anticipating the storm, our neighbors were busy lashing down lines and securing loose items on boat decks and on the dock. We worked together to be sure we were all prepared. By the time we finished, our boat looked like a bug caught in a giant spider web. And now all that remains is to watch the storm and marvel at the power of nature. And, eventually, it will end.
I wish I could say the same for another storm that has been raging around us for months.
He who shall not be named is a walking, talking typhoon of racism, misogyny, xenophobia and narcissism. And unlike the weather turbulence that will abate, it seems he can’t be shaken. Despite revelations of behavior unfitting a human being, never mind a U.S. Presidential candidate, and regardless of his former supporters flying away like leaves in the wind, he continues to hold his place in the polls. His attitude towards half of the people in this country — women and girls — is unacceptable. Would anyone want his or her mother, daughters or sisters viewed, discussed and treated in the manner that we have been witnessing? Would you trust him — potentially President of the United States — to give your daughter a ride home from school? I wouldn’t.
Racial and religious intolerance have no place in our country either. But this man has been a poster boy for both and has done some real damage. Damage that will continue to stick around long after the election, regardless of whom we elect. The Southern Poverty Law Center conducted a survey of educators in which one third of teachers said that they have noticed a rise in anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment among their students. Even more disturbing are reports of “…openly racist and vicious bullying of minorities, and more fear and anxiety among immigrants and minorities about what would happen to them if certain candidates for president are elected.” Two thirds of teachers surveyed for this report said that their students, mainly Muslims and children of immigrants, had expressed worry about what would happen to them and their families after the election.
This is damage that a lot of brave and good people have been trying to repair for a very long time. To name a few: women’s right to vote (1920); the 1965 voting rights act allowing people of color to vote; the end of school segregation and the desegregation of public places. The fight for civil rights has been going on since long before “he” was born. Society, I ask you, do you really want to go back that far?
I understand that people are unhappy with our current system. And with our current choices. I am, too. But this guy is definitely not the answer.
Unlike nature’s storms over which we have no control, we do have control over the man-made storms currently affecting our lives. It may not feel that we do, but we do. We are more powerful than we are led to believe.
We must reject the message and attitude of this ridiculous and frightening candidate. And then, come January, when hopefully anyone but him is in office, we have to fight for a transparent, honest government that is working on behalf of the people — all the people — of our country.
That way, working together, we can protect our future, tie it down securely and make sure there is something left to hand off to the folks coming up behind us once the storm has passed.
IRENE PANKE HOPKINS (irenehopkins.com) is a freelance writer and essayist.