Only Anecdotal

No numbers, just stories

He Wants the Real American

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The election is, at last, over.

I am relatively happy with the way things turned, out. Relieved may be a better word. But not everyone feels this way, a fact that came crashing down on my idealistic soul in a bar on election night.

Now, you would think that event planners would have better sense than to schedule a singles mixer as we awaited the turnout from such hotly contested races. But schedule they did, and I signed up. I thought it would be interesting–and it was.

For one thing, it was an icebreaker for the nervous mingler to look up at the screens and comment as states turned either red or blue. That was a somewhat entertaining, but as a person with strong feelings about the issues brought up in the campaigns, I could not help but voice my overwhelming concern during the last year (several years, actually) about access to healthcare.

A man tried to convince me that he was justified in his stance against universal coverage, because his company is looking at penalties of over $5 million because the company does not offer health insurance to all of its employees. I was shocked: shocked that rather than offer insurance, the company had decided to swallow the penalties. Shocked also at his reasoning. He told me that the people have jobs, and fewer people would be employed if the penalties ate that deeply into the profit margin.

Problem is, I see people die from lack of access to timely and affordable healthcare. I see the stress and the ultimate, unwilling non-compliance to medical plans because people cannot afford medications or outpatient visits. The man claimed, as Romney did, that people go to emergency departments for care; they do not go without. I told him that if he could walk one day in my shoes, see the people I see, he would change his mind.

He was pale when I told him good evening, and I was not sure in the end if he was just angry, or if he really considered what I had said.

I walked to the far end of the bar, where a man, and another man who turned out to be the cousin, introduced themselves. The first man had not voted. The second had, but up to that moment had refused to share with his family which way he had voted.

What he said upset me more than any other thing I have heard this entire election cycle. It upset me, perhaps, because it was real. It was tangible. And they were his deepest feelings, he said.

“I voted for the real American,” he said.

I am terrible at disguising my feelings. And true to this, the first man looked at me, and said only, “Uh oh.”

Truth is, I was sure I had misheard the cousin. I was sure that I had misunderstood. I was sure that in downtown Boston, in 2012, I could not be hearing the racism I had heard from a few people when I was a kid in Missouri. I was sure that despite the hate and fear that comes into our homes via Fox News and much of talk radio, no one could utter such a sentiment to a stranger, in a social setting.

But deep down, as we have been seeing with sentiments against women’s rights, I know that hatred has a voice, and therefore, a space. Power.

It shook me, glad as I was the next morning to find a new senator in Elizabeth Warren, and the same president with Barack Obama. The people spoke, and most of them do want a real American–one of the real Americans… the one who best represents the nation that we are right now.

No luck for me in the singles mixer. I had planned to stay for only an hour, and I did. I went home to spend the remaining hours with my kids, albeit it with a new realization of the sincere need we have in our land to unite, to reach across, to love.

And in this, I also want to thank the veterans who have served our country. I meet many of them, many who are getting older now, many who have stories they never told, others who have stories they never stopped telling.

In an ideal world, I wish we could all serve, if not in the military, in a volunteer capacity, serving the needs of our people throughout the country, uniting us all in earnest, as we see, up close, who we all really are.

Written by Only Anecdotal

12 Nov 2012 at 2:48am

Posted in advocacy, community

Tagged with , , , ,

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