An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Who am I? (One key question can help us recognize our role in the political arena)

By: Maria Novajosky, Guest Columnist
*published in The Augusta Chronicle (Sunday, March 6, 2016)

In the world of politics, who am I?

I vote, but I don’t campaign; I have opinions, but I don’t force them on anyone; I listen to talk radio while driving, but I don’t use bumper stickers to promote a candidate; I watch political debates, but I don’t enter into one.

In the world of politics, I am not particularly well-versed, or savvy, or even influential because, after all, in the vast political arena I am but a grain of sand.

So who, then, am I?

I am an ordinary person whose vocation in life is to be a wife to a wonderful husband and a mother to three sons, two in college and one in middle school. I work both at home and from home – doing all the things that moms everywhere do while also working as a freelance writer. My world is uncomplicated. You might even call it simple.

And yet, it is from my world of carpools, basketball practices, spelling words, college applications, school uniforms and writing deadlines that I can look at someone like Donald Trump, listen to his speeches and watch his debates and, from my simple, uncomplicated world, see him for what he is.

I look at Trump, and I recognize the playground bully who pushes, ridicules, belittles, and thinks that he is smarter, faster, and better looking than anyone else; who, like a child, pokes fun at people’s appearances – their big ears, or propensity for sweating, or way of talking; who resorts to pettiness by name calling and labeling and hurling clever insults which incite others to be just like him; and who, with a bully’s ruthlessness, will do anything – threaten, sweet talk, fight – to make sure his reign on the playground is unchallenged.

I watch Trump and see a spoiled child who pitches a fit when he doesn’t get his way; who says I want and, incredibly, people rush to do his bidding; who, when caught with his hand in the cookie jar, blames everyone and everything else; and who never, ever says I’m sorry which, in my simple world, shows lack of conscience because if you believe you are always right and can do no wrong, then  apologies are not only weak, but unnecessary, and  . . . well, do you see how dangerous this can be?

I hear the things he says about women, how he justifies his rudeness, trash talk, and total lack of respect by saying that, man or woman, it doesn’t matter. He'll go after anyone. But in my world, men don’t talk to women like that and get away with it because every woman is someone's mother, sister, grandmother or auntie and no man in his right mind wants anyone to speak to his mother, sister, grandmother or auntie like that. In my world, how a man treats a woman is the litmus test of his character.

I listen to him planning to build a wall to keep out immigrants and close borders to keep out Muslims and I go back to history and read of those who thought similarly and who, after wars and unspeakable atrocities, are today vilified for their actions.

I see how this non-politician is perhaps the most political one of all. He takes people’s frustrations and anger and –very cleverly, I’ll give him that – uses them as mortar to build a platform on which to stand. He gives people what they want and says what they want to hear, and so they come to civic centers, auditoriums, and school gyms where he is speaking to be swept up in a wave that says it’s okay to think, say, and believe as he does no matter how outrageous or offensive; he panders to ideas which, under normal circumstances, you would never tolerate because conscience, morality and all that is decent and good would have prevented you from going there in the first place.

And in Trump I recognize someone who sees life as one big business deal in which the bottom line for everything is money. Every move is a negotiation; every handshake is a financial transaction. People are numbers on spread sheets, and success is measured in dollar bills. He is a businessman to the core, and for the life of me I can’t imagine how he can serve as our president and not make decisions that wouldn’t somehow line his own pockets.

Alas, no candidate is perfect. They all have flaws because they are all human. But from the ordinariness of my life, I recognize in Trump a man in whom I don’t want my sons to emulate simply because we have raised them to be better than he is. And in an election year, in which two of our sons will be voting for the first time, they call us with their political insights and text their political commentaries and we have wonderful, mature discussions which reassure me they will never place their loyalty at the feet of someone who would just as soon step on them. They get it.

In the end, where do I fit into the grand scheme of things? Because in the political arena of candidates, pundits and pollsters, in this time of speeches, rallies, caucuses and primaries, on the political map of which I am but a speck, who am I, really?

Well, if this election has taught me anything, who I am is more important now than ever. I am a wife, a mother, a writer. I drive for field trips, bandage skinned knees, and prepare dinner for my family. But I am so much more.
Who I am is a voice.

And from the extraordinary ordinariness of my life, I choose not to be silent.

1 comment:

Cathy Keller said...

Well said! I, too, feel the same way. [sigh] Wishing you well!