Tomorrow September begins. During September, my older brother will celebrate his birthday, my son will celebrate his birthday, and my oldest grandson will also celebrate his birthday. Should be a nice month for family happiness, and it will be.
However, in today’s world, it also means that the Iowa Caucus’ are just a few months away, and the New Hampshire primary is right behind. That means while we are attempting to celebrate birthdays, we will be inundated with political advertisements. It seems that every election cycle begins earlier, and earlier. This one is no exception.
Unfortunately, this election cycle appears to be heading in a very ugly direction. Since I am considered “old” that is bad enough. But for my children and grandchildren, that puts a chill down my spine. And, if you were to look at what is being said and look at history, you will find frightening parallels as well.
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. World War II was still a fresh memory in our parents minds. Our father served in the Navy during the war and was recalled during the Korean War. Additionally, the “red scare” was really ramping up. There were real fears that there could be another world war. In 1962, that nearly came to be with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember seeing the fear in my parents faces. I remember the somber mood of the country. We were sure that a full-out nuclear exchange was just around the corner.
This was also a time when “white America” still ruled with an iron fist in many parts of the country. The Jim Crow laws were in full force. I remember, while vacationing in Florida and other southern states seeing the signs that read “colored restroom” and “colored drinking fountain.” I really didn’t understand at the time what that was about, but I do recall wondering why they were there.
Women were expected to “stay home” and take care of the kids. Men were the “bread winners.” And, it must be said that wages were sufficient that one-income households were actually viable in those days.
Today, we face different circumstances. Things have gotten better, or so we are expected to believe. The Civil Rights Law and the Voter’s Rights Law took care of Jim Crow once and for all. Civil rights were the law of the land. No more “blaming” others for our problems.
But, have things really gotten better? Today, the “stay at home” mom is almost non-existent. One-income families have a much harder time making ends meet because wages are so much lower when compared to spending power back when I was a kid.
More and more states have passed Voter ID laws that mimic the Jim Crow laws of the past. Meaning their true intention is to prevent people from voting. At least “certain” people.
Our police have become more militarized. I actually remember the “beat cop,” though it was being phased out at the time. Police did not seem as “trigger happy” as they are today. Even we “white delinquents” could have a “conversation” with the police. That wasn’t the case in black neighborhoods, though. I remember seeing blacks being hounded by police in my neighborhood. Neighborhoods were more segregated then.
One of my friends, who was black, dropped me off at the house and was pulled over by a cop just two blocks away who just “wanted to know what you are doing in this neighborhood.” Sound familiar?
As I listen to our Republican candidates, I cannot help but remember those days. I listen to people like Donald Trump talk about “deporting” all of the “illegal” immigrants, along with their children who were born here and thus citizens, and I remember a small lesson in history. Back in the 1930s when the depression was high, many states, counties, and cities in the Southwest and Midwest, deported millions of Mexican immigrants, even if they were here legally or citizens.
The excuse was to make sure they didn’t take “whites” jobs away from them. In places like Houston, whole neighborhoods were vacated. And, I wonder if that is where Donald Trump got his idea.
I listen to both candidates and conservative talking heads talk about the so-called “war on Christians” and wonder what the hell are they talking about? Then I remember seeing on TV the KKK rallies of the past talking about how they were of sound “White Christian” stock and better understand the “War on Christian” meme.
I hear Chris Christie talking about “tracking immigrants” like FedEx packages, and I remember watching movies of Nazi German police saying to someone “papers please.”
I hear Ben Carson comparing slaves being brought into the country “in the bottom of slave ships” to other immigrants and saying those slaves had the same immigrant dreams, and I wonder who is he trying to impress with such stupidity.
He then goes on to say there is “no war on women. There may be a war on what is inside a woman.” Say What????? With which part inside of women are we supposed to be at war?
But, the reality of all of this is the same thing. Talking heads say the Republican Party is becoming more racist. They are claiming that Trump is a “flash in the pan.” That is a very dangerous narrative. It is obvious to see that Trump is setting the Republican Agenda. That is why everyone else is trying to “out-Trump Trump.”
It also conjures other bad memories. It brings us back to the Jim Crow days. It brings up how Mussolini and Hitler rose to power by blaming those lousy “others” for all of Italy’s and Germany’s problems. It brings back memories of lynchings of black people. It brings back memories of the Japanese-American internment during World War II in this country. It brings back the “great repatriation” of Mexicans in the 1930s.
I have been saying for some time that the current Republican Party wants to take us back in time. At first I thought they wanted to take us back to the “Robber Baron” days. But, now I am not so sure. Now, I am beginning to believe their intention is much more sinister than that.
It is possible that Trump represents the last battle of the “old white men” who are afraid “their” country is gone. Where they had it good, and everyone else were simply “moochers.” Or, it could be the beginning of new era in American Politics. One that is a rehash of past, similar politics of hate.
In either case, don’t expect the rhetoric to be toned down anytime soon. It may not tone down at all. That is why we all better keep close tabs on what is being said. And, don’t lose sight of history. Too many things sound all too familiar from a not so friendly past.