My kids are teens — a 17-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — who have asked repeatedly, and earnestly, if we can move to Canada or Europe if Trump becomes president. And they have both expressed the desire to live in another country when they’re adults. I recognize that there’s some teenage naiveté behind their request. I remember as a high school student worrying that a Reagan presidency meant the sky might fall at any moment. But this is different — Trump is no Reagan. Neither is Cruz. The more I think about it, and the more I hear other children and adults express the same sentiment, the less crazy the idea sounds.
What great irony if it actually happened — if a portion of liberal Americans packed up and moved to Canada, or back to Europe from whence so many of us came — to escape an authoritarian Trump presidency and the repressive, regressive conservative movement in this country. Trump supporters might say good riddance. Some of you are already expressing that feeling, gleefully, on Facebook. But as my liberal friends joke about moving, there are those for whom this election looms even larger, and scarier.
Let’s face it. Underneath all the vitriol aimed at Muslims and immigrants, and our first black president, there’s a desire among a shockingly hefty portion of the U.S. population to return America to its whiter, Christian roots. Most will deny it at every turn, but it’s there all right. Behind every “Make America Great Poster” lurks an invisible “WASPS Unite” banner.
If anyone has a claim to that long-gone white Anglo-Saxon America, it would be someone like me. But why on earth would anyone aspire to that?
I’m a direct descendant of William Sabin, an Englishman who sailed to New England shortly after the arrival of the Mayflower, settled in Rehoboth, MA had business dealings with Miles Standish, and founded a prosperous mill. He was also the foreman of the jury in an infamous trial that convicted three Native Americans for killing an Indian translator. The verdicts and subsequent hangings ignited King Philips War. It was this war between the settlers and the Native Americans that acted as one of the major catalysts for the irreconcilable differences between the two groups. And we all know the rest of that story.
Yes, my family was part of that very first wave of immigration, the one that barreled through New England killing and manipulating the so-called savages and barbarians whose crimes were darker skin and different beliefs — and getting there first. But over time, I’d like to think we evolved a bit. We watched New England accept wave after wave of immigrants who became vital to the economies and cultures of the area. We moved around the country settling in California, Ohio and Missouri. We lived in diverse cities and changing suburbs. My family happily settled in the melting pot of the world, New York.
America and Americans have always evolved, and it’s precisely that evolution that has made us powerful and compassionate, dynamic and entrepreneurial, and ahead of the cultural and technological curves.
Trump can blabber on about immigrants and walls. Conservatives can talk all they want about the loss of American values, the problem with gay marriage, the evils of abortion and birth control. They can try to return us to another era — to treat the Constitution as an absolute in its original state, rather than as a living document, to squash personal freedoms in the name of another historic document, the Bible. But even if we lose this round, I believe my children will make sure we win the bigger battle.
Maybe you don’t give a damn about my kids, but here’s another thing to consider. Their generation isn’t buying into your hate. This generation believes strongly in equality for all, is sensitive to the plight of those who desire a better life on our shores, cares deeply about the rights of the LGBT community, and is highly invested in preserving and improving women’s reproductive rights. And this generation believes in an idea lost on America’s conservatives.
What happened to the separation of church and state? my son has asked repeatedly since this election season began. Why are the candidates always talking about God, and bringing their religion and personal beliefs into politics? How dare men tell me what to do with my body, my daughter says. All this talk about the Constitution and the right to bear arms, but what about my right to be shielded from your religious beliefs?
My kids aren’t alone — they’re the future of this country. Maybe Trump will win the nomination, and maybe he’ll even become the next president. But I have to believe that a different vision for the future will win this election. And as my kids and their peers across the country grow up, many conservative ideas will become obsolete and the Republican Party will die a quick death. Right now it’s dying a slow, tortured death, with Trump leading the charge to turn it into something utterly repugnant. But as the population ages, that death will accelerate and the party will cease to exist — unless the party evolves.
If Americans young and old, powerful and disenfranchised, black, white, Asian and Latino, Christian and Muslim, Jewish and Atheist don’t rise up in great numbers and vote for the Democratic nominee, it’s not just the GOP that will have died during this election cycle – it’s our way of life. Our daughters could be denied the right to an abortion, our neighbors might be hauled away and sent back to their native countries, and our country will be a terrible joke before the world. Worst of all, we might find ourselves at war with much of that world if the bombastic, authoritarian narcissist that is Donald Trump is allowed to prevail. And then I wonder if my children will have a future in this country they call home.
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