Most of us, at one time or another, have reminisced about our childhood and said something similar to: It was a simpler time “back then;” People got along better “back then;” Life was easier “back then;” People were safer “back then;” And a countless number of other “back then” memories that are, I’m sure, crystal clear for each and every one of us. But, to slightly twist a philosophical paradigm (that many Big Bang Theory fans will likely recognize), perhaps we’re all dealing with Schrödinger’s Box.
As we get older and begin dealing with the complexities of “real life”, the memories of our youth are silently encased in a box that we pull out from time to time to reassure ourselves that “It wasn’t always ‘this way'”, and “All we have to do is get ‘it’ back to the ‘way it was’.” Right now, that’s the song that Republicans are singing to anyone willing to listen, and one that Donald Trump is regularly shouting at the top of his lungs. They urge you to recollect a simpler time, a safer time, a better time, and they promise that they will help our country become what it ‘used to be.” And when they do, they say, “Everything will be okay again.”
But is this true? Let’s first examine “The Box”.
Our memories are selective – they are often rose-colored – and they nearly always omit the actual truth of the state of the world during those times. For example: History assures us that the diseases and poverty and racism that our country had to deal with “back then” was significant and turbulent and often deadly. We lived in an “Us and Them” society that segregated our population on many levels (race, gender, income) and often violently opposed any deviation from that “Norm”. While we were living our simple lives and blissfully placing our snapshot memories into our personal “Box”, others around us were constantly being persecuted and demeaned and threatened by sections of our government and our society.
Even at my age, yes – I still have my “Box” that I pull out from time to time to remember a simpler existence and to fondly recall a less stressful time ‘for me’, but I no longer believe the false narrative that the time of my youth was the Best of Times or the Perfect Era or a desirable place that our country needs to return to.
I was a Republican for most of my adult life because of the allure of “The Box” and the constant drumbeat of Republican barkers who urged me to join the rally for a return to yesteryear. But along with the era of Trump came the realization of Schrödinger’s Box. And not just from Republicans, but from all political parties. Play back ANY video tape (yes, that’s what they used to call it) from your youth, no matter how old you are, of ANY political campaign speech during that time, and ask yourself: Do they sound familiar? Haven’t we – for decades – listened to an endless parade of politicians constantly and repeatedly promising us – the citizens of America – a Living Wage? To get rid of corruption from government? To provide affordable Health Care? To ensure affordable Education? To protect us from the enemies of Democracy?
It’s my sincere belief that Trump won the presidential election in 2016 NOT because he was the best candidate, but rather, because he was NOT an establishment politician. I know of many who saw his racism and his white privilege point-of-view and misogyny and voted for him anyway solely because the idea of voting for Hilary Clinton was even more repellent. To them, Hilary Clinton represented the Political Status Quo. She represented everything we hate about our government and our political system and our country and, quite plainly, millions were simply unable to vote for ‘that’ again.
Personally, even though I truly believe Trump to be an amoral person, a racist, a habitual liar, and an overall sleaze-bag, I also truly believe that he has been good for the country. Why? Because he’s completely incapable of doing the normal “Politician Move” of keeping his dirty dealings and corruption behind the thick screen of secrecy that Washington has so carefully and consistently built and maintained for so long. The mountain of faults he possesses are on display each and every day. He constantly reminds us of “The Swamp” of current government and constantly reinforces the truth that it still solidly exists.
He reveals to the nation exactly what We – ALL of Us – do NOT want.
True, he has many slavish followers who either can’t or won’t see who he really is, but when you speak with some of these blind disciples and ask them what they really want, the answer is nearly always the same: They want Schrödinger’s Box. They want a simple life where their paycheck is regular and enough; they want to live in a safe neighborhood; they want a fair justice system; they want a life free of racial fear; and most important of all, they want a better world for their children.
And, although Schrödinger’s Box is really a product of our past, perhaps the best thing we can do as a nation is to open The Box, carefully take out all of those cherished memories, and use them to build a vision for a future that we’ve truly never experienced before. We need to clean out our government of all of the yesteryear politicians and fill those seats with dreamers. We need to create laws that punish politicians who lie, not reward them. We need to divorce Big Business from our political system completely because they do not have the Country’s best interest in mind.
And we need to paint visions of our future that every American can believe in: Clean air and water – happy homes – safe neighborhoods – laws and law enforcement that protect everyone equally – a living wage that allows us to actually work to live, not live to work – and a government that deserves our trust and respect and support.
Let’s all open The Box together, shall we?