This election has been an unending source of pain and confusion for me. I have tried to find a comfortable place between my inherent conservative beliefs and those of my friends who are dear to me.
I have been equally horrified by the behavior elicited in the campaign from both sides of the political aisle. I think the media have ceased to be the messenger of facts and information with which we each can make our decisions, and have become a propaganda machine for either party.
The problem for me is: Where do I fit? Donald Trump’s rhetoric and behavior did not match my view of a presidential candidate any more than Hillary Clinton’s seeming inability to speak the truth.
Clinton described a party line which we have followed for years, and it has not brought us any closer to feeling secure within our own borders, nor has it elevated those who are struggling to survive financially and socially in our country.
For the first time in my life, I have been called a “deplorable.” I very much took that to heart. I have tried to see myself through the eyes of my friends. Is that what they really think?
I am the grandchild of immigrants, a baby boomer who was raised in a military family. Being Jewish, we were a bit of an anomaly. It’s rare to find a Jewish Air Force pilot and rarer to find one who served in three wars.
As a little girl, I remember watching my father board a ship to Korea to fly B-26 bombers. I remember watching him in his flight suit, kissing my mother, before going off to his B-47 bomber awaiting instructions from President John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember flying home from South America so that I could hug my Dad before he went off to Vietnam to fly KC-135s to provide midair refueling for fighter jets.
Each of these experiences cut deeper and deeper into my psyche.
My lesson in all of this was sacrifice and safety. As a family we sacrificed years lost with my father, but we understood it was for the safety of our country. We honored our flag and our government, even though we disagreed with certain policies or people. Our elected officials deserved our respect whether we agreed with them or not. I am tearful and proud each time our flag is presented. So, does this make me a “deplorable”?
I own a small business and employ 27 people of all ethnicities and lifestyles. I have provided benefits for them long before the Affordable Care Act became law. I didn’t lay them off during the downturn of 2008. I sponsored the parents of one of my employees so they could come to the United States from Croatia. I belong to a synagogue. I donate to charitable organizations. And yet, I am still a “deplorable” because I do not support the new worldview that elevates political correctness above each individual.
All of us come from a unique life experience. We are shaped by those experiences. Despite the fact we may not espouse a liberal view we are empathetic to those who suffer and struggle. We do not carry placards and rage at cameras. We live our lives, raise our children and work at our jobs. We want to feel safe in our own homes and in our country. We are simple people. Does this make us “deplorable”?
I recently read a message from a Facebook “friend” suggesting that any of us who supported the new administration should remove her from our friend list since it was obvious to her that we are “bigots and racists.” In my life I have never been called by either term. I still haven’t recovered. “Deplorable.”
Tectonic shifts occur due to extraordinary pressure from within. It appears that our government has not been listening to the bedrock of this country. It is my sincere hope that we will start seeing each other as individuals, remove the labels and acknowledge that our survival as a country depends upon our ability to unite despite our differences.
Judy Kahler is president and CEO of CLAS Information Services in Sacramento. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org