Elections, opinions, and Tom Hanks said we’d be OK

I accidentally got voted into presidency once.

True story.

6th grade student council president to be exact.

Conspiracy at the hands of a vindictive teacher maybe a better set of words than “accidental” to describe the process that found me in my short stint in politics.

Backstory:

2nd through 6th grade was a period in my life that is best described as “aspiring stand up comedian”. I was a class clown. I was notorious for standing on my desk and telling jokes when the teacher left the room and pulling pranks and just annoyingly questioning the concept of homework. Needless to say, I wrote most of my material in Time Out (my elementary school’s equivalent of in-school detention). 

I loved to make people laugh… not so much because I enjoyed bringing joy to people as much as I loved elevating my own status as “the funny kid”.  I loved attention.

I needed that title to have any high social standing in the cutthroat world that was Washington Irving Elementary.

I was about a foot short for my age so sports wasn’t a realistic option. I have never possessed an academic mind of any kind  so being a “smart kid” was out. Besides, those kids were dorks… that is until you get to college and realize the dorks totally had it right all along and you start reading for fun and playing “intellect catch up”. 

If I may boast, I was an adorably cute kid but not exactly cute to girls so I couldn’t really ride the coat tails of a girl to popularity either.

I was a competitive archer back then but this hobby was really under-appreciated for some reason.

No. Being the funny kid was my only plausible path to the top.

Being the funny kid is a really sweet gig by the way. The prerequisites are pretty minimum. You don’t have to be good looking. Lacking any sense of fashion really just works more for you rather than against you. It’s almost expected of you to have bad grades.  

The only real requirement was to be funnier than everyone else. And that wasn’t even hard so long as you simply repeated the stolen jokes you heard from TV and movies. Ace Ventura was always an ace in the hole if you came up dry. Plagiarism is okay when your 9 years old and talking out of your butt… literally.

Not a lot is expected from the class clown so you can imagine my surprise when, one fateful day in 6th grade, I came back from the bathroom to find that my class had voted me to Student Council in my absence.

Total conspiracy job I tell you.

A) I didn’t run or campaign or sign up or announce any desire to be in Student Council. Apparently the process was write any random one of your classmates name on a piece of paper and pass it to the front.

B) I had a… shall we say… turbulent relationship with my 6th grade home room teacher. She was every class clown’s worst nightmare of a teacher, overly serious. She assigned seated the class in alphabetical order which left me (Williams) in the back. And there weren’t even enough desks for everyone so I had to sit at a long table next to my best friend at the time (Young). 

Back of class? Check. Next to my friend? Check. Hilarious reputation to protect? Check. I was totally set up to fail.

This teacher was notorious for making known troublemakers sit in the classroom closet with lights off for the whole class period. I think the last 3 months of school found me and my friend on an every other day rotation to sit in the darkness of the den of disciplinary doom.

All that said, I think my teacher set me up so I’d have to be on student council as punishment. Obviously, meeting once a week after school with our principal was not on my list of things I wanted to do. Another word for this is “detention”.  Besides, “Rocko’s Modern Life” came on Nickelodeon at 3:30pm sharp… I had no time for this.

Things only got worse when I showed up late to the first meeting and my fellow StuCo members had elected me president by the time I got there.

This was stressful. 

This terrified me to no end because I had NO IDEA what I was supposed to do.

Would I be resposible for a lot of things? How much work would this entail? If I do a bad job will everyone fail the 6th grade? How much power do I have? Can I abuse it? Can I abolish homework? Can I fire my home room teacher who got me into this mess?

The anxiety was terrible… for a whole hour.

Turns out that I really had no authority or power and our student council meetings were mostly just listening to the principal talk about how much cooler the next year was going to be because the school was going to get a gym and new playground equipment and a better library … when we were gone… to middle school.

Student Council sucked. 

I have been apolitical ever since.

It’s been a little over a week since the infamous 2016 presidential election…

Let me say this, everything is going to be okay. Tom Hanks recently said it in a pretty sweet speech. 

“We are going to be alright. America has been in worse places than we are at right now.” – Tom “Woody” Hanks

At least that is more than likely the case. I think our country has been in worse spots… we had a civil war once. 

We won.

HA!

Get it?
Anyway…

This blog, so far, has never been one for the “what’s happening in the world at this moment-kind of-current events”. I take way too long to properly process my thoughts on anything that is relevant for them to still be relevant by the time my brain settles down.

Anyone who’s known me for the majority of my life knows that my fashion sense and taste in music are usually about 3 years behind everyone else. I just saw my first episode of “The Walking Dead” a few weeks ago(you people are sick by the way) and you’ll find most of my Top 10 favorite movies reside in the 80’s. I’ll probably get around to watching the Netflix show “Stranger Things” in 2018. 

I am not ahead of the curve.

However, despite living in the past most of the time, I was indeed aware that there was an election going down last week.

I don’t know if the election went your way or not. If it did, congrats. If it didn’t, I feel you.

The first thing I will say is this… I did not vote. I went back and forth on it. 

And I didn’t vote for reasons. 

Some of which are: feeling that both candidates talked more trash than policy, that I was ignorant of knowledge in the policies they did actually speak of, I couldn’t morally justify voting for either, some passivity and indifference of the whole thing, and a minor paranoid distrust of media and the possibly biased information produced by the mass of it.

Feel free to roll your eyes. It is your right to lecture me on my freedom that was bought by blood on battlefields and the moral and civic duty that it is to vote. You’d be justified to do so. But I am equally justified in standing firm in the same freedom that allows me to stand by my decision not to.

I am aware that I could have voted 3rd party. But I didn’t. It would have been OK if I did though. And if you did, awesome. Seriously. Don’t let people criticize you. You’re not a waste of a vote despite what most would say. I know a few people who voted 3rd party completely sober minded in the knowledge that their candidate stood no chance of victory but, were confident in their conviction and desire to see a 3rd party make enough noise in this election to challenge a bi-partisan system they don’t agree with in future elections.

Besides, you did better than the people who wrote in “Harambe the gorilla”. This is an an example that better fits the definition of people who should have just stayed home.

Now, seeing “President-elect Trump” with his picture next to it is pretty surreal. Like a deleted scene from “Back to the Future 2” because it just seems so camp. A joke based in the “wouldn’t this be crazy if it happened” variety. Totally not real. 

Apparently this reality was actually absurd and funny enough for an episode of “The Simpsons” many years ago.

And I am not going to write much about this because as I’ve already stated:

1) I’m rather apolitical. Call it privilege if you want. You wouldn’t be wrong.

2) I haven’t processed my thoughts completely enough to speak confidently from a stance of a frustrated man or a silver-lining seeking enthusiast. 

I do think it’s okay to be fearful and nervous. I refuse to undermine anyone who is feeling hopeless and scared. Trump has no political experience or military background of any kind yet he will have to make big decisions in those particular fields. People love to make the argument that he is an extremely good business man and that qualifies him from an economic standpoint. However, I can tell you that running a business has very little to do with concern for what is best for people and everything to do with the the dollar sign on the bottom line. A level of greed exists or eventually exists at the heart of any successful business. Personally, I think running a country like a business is what creates mass poverty.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about it all myself.

Researching all this has been nothing short of mind bottling…” you know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle.” – Chazz Michael Michaels, election coverage correspondent/fictional pro figure skater.

You only have to look at a votes-by-county map of the United States to see that the election wasn’t about liberal v. conservative or even Democrat v. Republican really. It simply came down to rural v. city. 

America has been run like a business and unfortunately that has benefited only some. The rest wanted change.

And I think that is why middle America came out to vote. Because middle America has been thrashed. The recession kicked the butt of small town USA and most recovery aid went to cities. I think that is the main reason. NOT because half the country are racists and agree with all the borederline sociopathic verbiage of the President-elect. That’s an unhealthy outlook that creates a false reality.

The USA has become one massive, bad episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies”. Only the stereotypes aren’t funny anymore. We have painted this picture where city folk are too pampered, militantly pretentious, and caught up in trivial narcissism while enjoying the smell of their own farts and country folk are all uneducated, gay-bashing cultists of some evil death cult called Christianity, only useful for supplying farm-to-table food and unable to grasp the concept of hygiene; and the only thing both sides seem to agree on is drugs. 

And these things are just not true. Sure there is sprinkling of tiny truths. All stereotypes and cliches are based in a shallow pool of truth. But we take minor things and make them into blanket statements and we swear by them.

We can’t just live in labels. Maybe instead of late night television making fun of small town USA for being meth addicted, incestuous, trailer dwelling, Westboro Baptist Trump supporters for the last year…. there should have been more conversations being had. I should have been having more conversations instead of laughing along. We probably would have been less shocked by the election result if we’d just been willing to leave our pretentious circles, stop making fun and just listened to people. 

Yes. Again, I say it is okay to be fearful. It is not my attempt to undermine the many people who are justified in fear and anger about this election. Trump winning gives a voice to SOME (read some, not all) people in this country who are totally unpleasant. Actual racists, actual hate groups, actual sexists… but this is not the majority of Trump supporters. To believe that is to perpetuate and increase the divide between rural and city cultures that needs to be rectified.

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts: I am a liberal, logic based, Christian, student pastor who resides on the Oklahoma/Texas border. My belief in God is often strengthened by the real miracle that is me actually having friends at all.

It’s easy to live in these bubbles of like-mindedness. Even for a guy like me that is usually the polar opposite of the people and culture that is around him any given time. I am naturally drawn to books and articles that support my beliefs but you can’t really  learn anything if you just want to know half of the information. Social Media is designed to fill our timelines with things that interest us and agree with us; not things and ideas and opinions that might challenge our mindset. And trust me… challenge is the best thing for anyone. 

And pretty much every celebrity was on the Democratic side and that is all we millenials need to feel justified, comfortable and confident in our stance. 

I mean Robert DeNiro threatened to beat up Donald Trump. We all thought this was awesome. But maybe that wasn’t what we should have gotten behind.

There are anti-Trump protests happening and there are a lot of hateful people using Trump as a pedestal for their hatred and sure, those are both free speech. But it all just seems like noise. Neither is a solution to anything. People are so much more complicated and complex than whatever box they checked on a piece of paper. Free Speech is often bastardized into this definition that is only about edgy signs and megaphones and controversy. Free Speech can equally and maybe more often it should mean a right to sit down with someone who opposes you and talk. AND LISTEN. Learn why they stand where they do instead of just slinging rocks at them.

Conversations are so much louder than megaphones.

And my house has been full of conversations in attempts to understand and encourage all that is happening. 

It has been refreshing to have these talks with my roommates.

But it has also been challenging to have these conversations with my dad.

My dad and I  have been battling each other for total supremacy in the realm of intelligence for years. I studied law for fun in high school and I am pretty good at presenting a strong case built around evidence to support anything but, between you and me, my father is way more intelligent than I am. And that’s why this last week has been hard for me. My dad is the coolest guy alive. My dad is my hero. But this election has found us on separate sides and ready to fight. Most boys fortunate enough to have their father in their life grow up thinking their dad is invincible and perfect but, inevitably, one day every boy figures out their dad is a flawed mortal man. And even though this is nowhere near the first thing my dad and I have disagreed on but, as old as I am, I think this is the first time where the hero status of my dad in my own mind is being really challenged. He has some stances on things that I find to be unbecoming of the heroic, god-man image of him I have built in my head. He loves Fox News for crying out loud.

But as I said. Challenge is great. Conversations are great. For the first time in my life, instead of going in my room to research and come back with some truth bombs to hurl at him, I am sitting with him and talking and watching Fox News with him and learning why he stands where he does.

It’s been hard but great. Flying daggers will quickly close minds but conversations have left me and my dad more open to understanding. 

All this is to simply advocate for conversation with people. Social media has made it too easy to label people. People shouldn’t be defined by 140 characters or less.

You can feel free to challenge me in anything I’ve said. I am totally not huge on politics or debating/discussing them  but I am open to the conversation and hearing what you have to say.

P.S.  I found myself heavily disenchanted with Christians during this election. I still don’t know if that is OK or not. I would like to say that Christianity and the Republican party are not the same thing and it is totally OK to vote democrat or 3rd party if you are a Christian. I heard the comment, “Well, I am voting Trump because I am a Christian.” That is illogical and makes almost no sense as a sound reason. It insinuates there is a Christian duty to the Republican party. I think that is a flawed mindset. There is this weird symbiotic relationship that seems to exist between Christianity and the Republican party that is built almost entirely on the mountain called abortion. 

1) I sway in the direction of pro-life, HOWEVER, I don’t think it is wise to make abortion the end all be all of one’s decision in voting for a President. I don’t believe a Republican candidate automatically means they hold a pro-life stance personally as much as we associate conservativism to one party more than the other. But it’s safe to say that I don’t currently believe our President-elect to be much of a conservative. Neither am I though.

2) Pro-life has been tagged as anti-abortion and I think it is so much more complicated than that. Pro-life has to mean pro-adoption and that means being pro-active in it. Anyone can picket an abortion clinic. But that isn’t love. Anyone can go to abortion clinics and approach people with the Gospel and conversations. But that isn’t enough to most people. It’s easy to choose a pro-life stance… but I doubt anyone who has ever gone to a clinic to abort their pregnancy found their decision to be one that came easy. We have to realize that. You can chant “adoption’s an option” until your vocal cords tear but it doesn’t make it necessarily true. Oklahoma and Texas both rank way low in number of abortion clinics but rank super high in number of children in need of adoption. If we aren’t willing to adopt and love the children we want to see saved from abortion than we are only solving half of a whole problem.

P.S.S. This is for you ladies. This election doesn’t define your gender. This isn’t a loss for your gender. I have had a lot of conversations with girls who are broken-hearted to see a man who made a lot of misogynistic remarks in his campaign win over the woman who could have been our history making first female president. And that stings a little. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I am sure every one you women heard some remark in the realm of, “I don’t want a woman leading our country.” And that’s unfortunate, unkind and outdated. But this isn’t a loss for womankind. It’s still a long journey towards total equaility and, in my opinion, a bunch of progressive pop culture moves masked as faux victories isn’t the right path there. A female Ghostbusters movie isn’t the way to get there. I think I will live to see the first female President. I really hope it is Michelle Obama but it sure as hell isn’t going to be Wonder Woman. The truth of the matter is we are closer than ever to that day. We can either choose to concentrate on the fact that a woman ran for president and lost or that a woman ran for president, was chosen as the primary Democratic presidential candidate and BARELY lost. 

I mean only to be encouraging. There is nothing wrong with feeling defeat but there is much positive to experience in this  and to look towards.

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