Is America Great Again Yet?

I woke up this morning with a bad case of the Tuesdays. Listen, yesterday (the day that shall not be named) was a rough day. It usually is around here, but following a week of no school and a holiday, coupled with the fact that Jackson’s school pushed start and end times back about 45 minutes (blah, blah, traffic patterns, blah) it really started out kinda poopy. We were all a bit tired, a bit cranky, and one of us woke his parents by vomiting on their bed because he decided to eat mulch from the garden that never got planted last spring. (Hint: It wasn’t Jackson.) 

Let me start over. 

Sir Duke Barkington puked all over the damn bed yesterday morning and it started my day off on the wrong foot.

But, like a good day that shall not be named goes, it got even worse. 

I came home from the crowded, confusing carline to find that picture, you know which one, with the toddlers being teargassed as their mother tried to run the other way. 

And my first though was: Is America Great Again Yet? 

Then I started to think about how much hate has to be in a heart to want to spray fucking tear gas over people, including children who have been walking with their parents for weeks and have no clothes and no shoes. Then I started to wonder about the kind of person you would have to be to be working at the border, and what kind of person would not put the tear gas down and say, “Fuck this, I’m out.” Then I started to get an image in my head, without having to see a picture of what was happening. This is maybe the hardest part. Because then I started to realize that the stuff we can see in actual images is one thing. But what about the images that are not coming? What is happening when no one is there? What is happening ten miles down the road in either direction? What is happening under the cover of darkness? 

I can’t claim to know how the Border Patrol works. I don’t know anyone who works there. I don’t live anywhere near there. I have never taken the time to Google how they are employed, where they are employed, or what the vetting process looks like. But I am starting to get a clear picture of what it takes to do this job every day, and it makes me sad. 

I’m sad that people want this job. I am sad that for some it is the only decent  paying job they can find. I hope it is decent paying. I know there are good people who work there. There has to be. I know there are people who are suiting up everyday and feel, deep down in their hearts, that they are in some way serving their country. Many of them, I assume, are veterans. Many have served their country in another capacity and now, having little when they return home, little by way of money and little by way of mental health care to deal with the PTSD, continue on a path of service to their country. And I suspect they believe they are helping make America Great Again. But I can’t be sure.

Who are these people? The people who work the border. The people who lack sympathy, empathy, common human decency? Who are these people who spew hatred over the heads of babies being ripped from their parents? Who are these people who believe that a 22-year-old single mom would walk 2,000 miles with a child strapped to her back, and one holding onto her leg, just for fun? Who are these people that think it is okay to throw tear gas at these human beings? Who are they and what are they being led by? Who are they being led by? 

But, it isn’t just the men and women who work the border. They shouldn’t be blamed for all of this. They are doing what they are told. They are doing what the government says. They are “just doing their job”.

I saw a woman, a grandmother, on CNN the other day. She told the reporter, “Stop trying to make me feel bad for those kids.” 

Stop trying to make me feel bad for those kids.

Are we Great Again yet America? 



In fifth grade I went to vote with my mother. It wasn’t the first time she took me to a polling place, and it wasn’t the last. But this time stands out among the others because we were “voting” in school too. We were learning about the government. About checks and balances. We had to take our “ballots” to the polling places with our parents and “cast” them in a box set aside for school children. We had to pick a side. Republican or Democrat. No crazy person wanted to be an Independent. I didn’t know much about much, but I knew that Bill Clinton talked with a funny accent, and that my mom liked him. I remember hearing her complain about George Bush. I remember thinking Ross Perot had giant ears and didn’t like kids. I don’t know why I thought he didn’t like kids. I just thought that. That day I eagerly and easily cast my vote for Bill Clinton. And the next day we found out that he won! I thought I had this all figured out.

On November 7, 2000 I voted in my first real election. I remember walking into the local church with my mother. It was about a mile from our house in Leavenworth. I remember the smell of the musty basement. The fake wooden walls. The senior citizens passing out pamphlets. I remember them asking if I was a Republican or a Democrat. I nervously eyed my mom, who said, “Democrat”, in a low, but prideful voice. I remember showing my id. You had to show your id in Kansas, still do I believe. I remember being afraid they would tell me I couldn’t vote for one reason or another. I remember it all very well. Though at the time, I wasn’t sure why it felt so important.

I remember watching the results come in. Going to sleep that night knowing that Al Gore would be our next president. I was happy and calm.

Then I remember the news the next morning.

The arguing.

The hate from both sides.

The dread.

The recount.

The Court’s decision.

I’m sad and ashamed to say that I didn’t vote again until 2004. I was angry and confused. I had voted. I had done my part and Gore had won the popular vote. I didn’t yet understand the politics in our country. I can’t say I understand why politicians do and say what they do now, but I am better versed at how it all works.

Over the years I’ve seen candidates that I have loved and those that I have despised. They both stick with you. Good and bad. John Kerry was served a disappointing loss. But the happiness and strength I felt holding my newborn son, watching President Obama get sworn in, is one of the most endearing memories of my adult life.

Which brings me to today, in a hurried fashion. I want to say something motivating, something captivating. But again I am at a crossroads of shame and sadness. I am ashamed that we let out country get to this point. I am nervous that the good will not trump the evil. I am ashamed that I have not tried to do more. I am sad that we have all not tried to do more.

But, I march on. We all do. Some with sadness, anxiety, and dread, mixing around in our brains with a peppering of optimism and if we’re lucky, a bit of wine to take the edge off. Some see the significance of today. Others will not. But in the end, we are all in this together, whether we like it or not. And if you’re like me, you’re just trying to make the world a little bit better day by day. And if you’re like me you’re scared and a little sad. A little ashamed and a little anxious. But remember, it will all look better in the morning.